Hockey is a sport that’s teaching healthy competition off the ice as well as on it.
Hockey players today are all looking for the edge, the unfair advantage that will push them over the top.
This is part 5 in the ten-part series, the Minor Hockey Player’s Guide to In-Season Nutrition, Health & Wellness.
The days of showing up a half hour before game time, strapping on the wheels and heading out for a leisurely warmup before playing hockey are long gone. These days, there are so many supplements, teaching tools and magic potions available that it can be hard to choose the right combination.
Like my dad used to say, if it’s too good to be true, then it usually is. The best way to find extra energy is to maintain a healthy balance at the dinner table.
Here are the 5 ways that hockey players are gearing up for games and practices.
Hockey players need to make sure that they have energy to burn. Storing energy in the form of glucose and carbohydrates gives the body something to use early in games when they need a spark and late in games when they need a boost.
Neglecting a meal, or even an important part of a meal (like vegetables), means that energy has to come from somewhere else. Eating healthy snacks in between meals will also keep the metabolism burning efficiently as well, which will keep the body burning new fuels quickly and efficiently.
Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel for optimal athletic performance. 55% of a young athlete’s total daily calories come from carbs. Unfortunately, carbohydrates are a common nutrient deficiency in young athletes (so paying close attention to carb intake might give you that unfair advantage).
Healthy carbohydrates are found in bread, pasta, whole grain cereals and in fruit.
When an athletes lift weights their muscle experiencing increased tension. The muscle stretches and actually experience micro-tears that eventually rebuild into a larger, more powerful mass,
The key to this process? Protein.
Protein is the muscle-builder, the muscle doctor and the energy provider. When the muscles are larger and more efficient, less energy is required by the body to perform. Protein repairs tissue and maintains muscles fibres after workouts, games and practices.
Healthy fats are an important source of the body’s stored energy. Good fats are needed to help the body access stored carbohydrates, which is important for stamina and endurance. In short, it’s easier for the body’s nutrients to flow from one system to the next with a healthy supply of fats.
Good fats include eggs, avocados, coconut oil, butter and other oils like fish oil.
Increased energy in a teenaged hockey player might sound like a dream or a nightmare for some hockey parents depending on the characteristics of your child, but one thing is for certain: we’d all prefer our kids burn off their physical energy at the rink instead of at home.
It’s more difficult than you think, preparing for game and then going out and performing. Without sufficient energy, hockey players are less likely to succeed and can fall into a never-ending trap of depleted confidence, all because they skipped breakfast.
So, the ultimate fuel for an endless supply of focused energy?
A combination of wholesome carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Feed them this balanced diet and watch the engines burn.