Sports Nutrition – Eat Well, Play Well

Written by Toronto Nutritionist Janet Zdichavsky RNCP ROHP

Healthy FoodsHockey players not only work hard but they play hard, from practice to competitive games.  The question is how and where do they get all that energy from?  Optimal nutrition is something that all athletes strive for in order to increase their performance for longer periods of time, lessen their fatigue and recover quicker between training sessions as well as from competing.[1]

As a hockey player, the first thing is to understand the way the body works and how to nourish and hydrate it for it to perform at its best.   A human body relies on vital nutrients, vitamins, minerals and water which come from the foods/drinks that are consumed.[2]  There are three main categories a hockey player should know in regards to nutrition: Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat. [3]  Every athlete should follow a well balanced diet that includes all three of these macronutrients.[4]

Carbohydrates are the body’s major energy source for hockey players especially before practice, a tough workout or even prior to a game.  It’s important to eat rich complex carbohydrates such as multi-grain breads, rice, lentils or vegetables and allow these foods to digest for at least 2 hours.[5]

During a practice or a game, hockey players tend to forget to hydrate their bodies whether it is with water or a sport drink. A home made sport drink made up of water, fruit juice and a pinch of salt  improves overall sodium balance, lost through sweating and provides carbohydrates during the game to improve performance and endurance as oppose to those players who only drink water.[6]

It’s imperative for hockey players to prepare their body before, during and after a practice or a game.  According to Green, there is a 30-90 minute optimal window after a hockey player has completed their intense workout in which protein should be replenished.  Most hockey players prefer to have protein shakes to restore the glycogen (stored carbohydrate reserves within the body) that has been used up during practice or a game.

Lastly all hockey players need to eat foods with fat to maintain vitamin absorption, to meet ones’ caloric intake and daily energy needs[7].  Majority of fat is found in animal protein, oils, nuts and butters however one should only consume about 20-35% of fat per day[8].

Overall, many hockey players lack the proper nutrition knowledge in order to achieve maximum results in their game and practice[9].  With so many resources available, it is vital for hockey players to be informed on how to nourish their bodies so that they can excel in their performance.

 


[1] Ozdogan, Y and Ozcelik, A., Evaluation of the Nutrition Knowledge of Sports Departments students universities. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2011

[2] Ozdogan, Y and Ozcelik, A., Evaluation of the Nutrition Knowledge of Sports Departments students universities. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2011

[3] Nelms, M., Sucher., K. and Long, S. Nutrition Therapy and Pathophysiology. 2nd Ed. California: Thomson Wadsworth. 2010

[4] Nelms, M., Sucher., K. and Long, S. Nutrition Therapy and Pathophysiology. 2nd Ed. California: Thomson Wadsworth. 2010

[5] Livestrong. The Hockey Player’s Diet. August 2011: Internet: http://www.livestrong.com/article/135806-the-hockey-players-diet/ (Accessed October 15, 2012)

[6] Palmer, M., Logan, H., and Spiret, L. On-ice sweat rate, voluntary fluid intake, and sodium balance during practice in male junior ice hockey players drinking water and carbohydrate-electrolyte solution. Applied Physiology Nutrition Metabolism. 2010

[7] Livestrong. The Hockey Player’s Diet. August 2011: Internet: http://www.livestrong.com/article/135806-the-hockey-players-diet/ (Accessed October 15, 2012)

[8] Nelms, M., Sucher., K. and Long, S. Nutrition Therapy and Pathophysiology. 2nd Ed. California: Thomson Wadsworth. 2010

[9] Reading, K., McCargar, L., and Marriag, B. Adolescents and Young Adult Male Hockey Players: Nutrition Knowledge and Education. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research. 2009

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