Updated: Aug 15, 2019
Chicken tenders. Burgers. Fries.
It's not that we believe these foods are best for our athletes- it's that crazy practice and game schedules mean we typically need meals FAST.
And, if you're relying on concession food or restaurants near the rink, options are generally limited.
Sure, planning ahead is a great idea... if you have any idea what to plan. Especially when you're out of town.
So here we are, expecting our skaters to practice and compete at high levels with rigorous training and conditioning.
Too often, though, they're running on fumes by the third period, slow to recover from physical or multiple games, and focus is diminished. The problem isn't the training... it's the fueling.
Don't get me wrong- I love waffle fries and team pizza parties are great- but timing is essential (hint: it's not during a tournament).
Typically, fast food is laden with fat, salt, and sugar, which can leave athletes feeling full and more susceptible to cramping and gastro-distress during practice and games. With the high sugar content, but low nutritional value, the energy fueled will quickly burn out resulting in player fatigue... likely before the end of the game.
Post-workout convenience foods aren't much better.
While the body is quickly working to restore spent glycogen, it's also preparing for recovery. Nutrient-dense foods provide greater defense against injury, boost immunity, and help the body more effectively recover for the next game or practice.
What should they eat? It's not enough to break macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) into daily percentages: age, weight, gender, and activity level all play an essential role. Add food allergies, aversions, injuries, puberty, and vegetarian/vegan lifestyles into the mix and meeting nutritional requirements for endurance, focus, immunity, and recovery just got even trickier.
Without nutritional support, efforts & results on an off the ice are limited. Meeting individual athletes' macro and micronutrient needs not only provides proper fueling for their game, but for growth and future health too.