Nutrition Guide for Hockey Players, Parents & Coaches

Training Table 

A great game-day performance needs more than just practice. Your young hockey player will score with these important nutrition guidelines for games and practices.

Everyday Training Guidelines

Focus on meals and snacks based on Canada’s Food Guide to give your hockey players the ultimate shot at performing their best and meeting their growth and development needs.

Fuel up on carbs: Carbohydrate-rich foods provide the best fuel for working, growing and active bodies.

What they are: vegetables, fruits, whole grain breads, whole grain foods (such as brown rice), milk and legumes (peas, beans and lentils). Besides being a slow-release carbohydrate, legumes are also a source of protein. Use them in soups, stews, tortillas and other dishes.

Get the right amount of protein: Eating enough, but not excessive amounts of, protein throughout the day helps kids perform academically as well as athletically. Protein also helps build and repair tissues and maintain a strong immune system. However, avoid the lure of high-protein diets. They will not help athletic kids perform better. In fact, these diets may cut energy substantially. This is because carbohydrates are the body's "highest octane" source of fuel. Also, a high-protein diet can be dehydrating. Stick to protein sources such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese and tofu.

Some fat from healthy sources is necessary to maintain good health. You’ll find healthy fats in peanuts and peanut butter, olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts, soy nuts, and fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, char and trout.

Don’t forget fluids, which you need to support all body functions.

Active children need to meet their energy demands as well as their growth and development needs. To do this, they should have three nutritionally balanced meals and three to four healthy snacks throughout the day.

Game and Practice Day Nutrition Guidelines: Breakfast
Goals
  • Eat a healthy breakfast every day with at least three of the four food groups.
  • Not a breakfast eater? Now is the time to start!
  • Start hydrating early in the day, with a large glass of milk and some water on the way to school.
Why?
  • A variety of foods containing carbohydrates and protein replenishes fuel stores and gives the body a jump-start on the day. It also helps the brain work better.
  • The body’s fuel tank is empty after a night’s sleep—that’s the reason you need to break the fast!
What?

Three Breakfast Ideas:

Breakfast 1

  • 1 whole grain bagel
  • Peanut butter or natural cheese
  • 1 banana
  • 1-2 cups milk

Breakfast 2

  • 1 cup oatmeal with brown sugar or honey
  • ½ cup blueberries or strawberries
  • 1-2 cups milk

Breakfast 3

  • 2-egg omelette
  • 2 slices of whole wheat toast with margarine
  • Fresh orange or pear
  • 1-2 cups milk
Game and Practice Day Nutrition Guidelines: Lunch
Goals
  • Let lunch be the last large meal before afternoon competition or practice. Eat lunch two to three hours beforehand.
  • Include a good source of carbohydrate, protein and some fat.
  • Hydrate with at least one large glass of water in addition to at least one serving of milk.
Why?
  • Eating a variety of foods will help ensure your hockey player gets the nutrients needed to grow, think, play and be healthier overall.
What?

Three Lunch Ideas:

Lunch 1 - Turkey Sandwich

  • 2 slices whole grain bread
  • Lower-sodium turkey slices
  • Mustard, tomato and lettuce
  • 1 cup baby carrots and 2 Tbsp dressing to dip
  • 1 orange
  • 1 to 2 cups milk
  • 2 chocolate chip cookies

Lunch 2 - Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly or jam
  • Salad with dressing
  • 1 banana
  • Yogurt
  • 1-2 cups milk

Lunch 3 - Taco

  • Taco with ground meat
  • Lettuce, tomatoes and cheese
  • Salad with dressing
  • Apple
  • 2 oatmeal cookies
  • 1-2 cups milk
Game and Practice Day Nutrition Guidelines: 2 Hours Prior to Exercise
Goals
  • Fuel and hydrate with high-carbohydrate foods lower in fat plus a little protein.
  • Choose foods and beverages that are well tolerated and easily digested since the body needs the energy from carbs.
Why?
  • Foods high in fat, protein and fibre take longer to digest and may cause gastrointestinal upset during practice or competition and result in decreased performance.
What?

Choose one or two of the following:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Fruit-filled cereal bar
  • Peanut butter and crackers
  • 100% fruit juice
  • Granola bar
  • Pudding
  • Crackers and cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Trail mix
Game and Practice Day Nutrition Guidelines: 1 Hour Prior to Exercise
Goals
  • Fuel and hydrate without stressing the digestive tract.
  • Avoid simple carbs such as chocolate and sugar.
  • Avoid carbonated, caffeinated beverages.
Why?
  • Heavy foods will send blood to the digestive tract; you want it to go to the muscles.
  • Your hockey player needs to stay hydrated to be on top of his or her game.
  • Simple carbs can produce an energy spike that quickly plummets and could result in decreased performance.
What?
  • Light snack or fluids one hour or less prior to competition such as:
    • ½ cup yogurt
    • 1 cup milk
    • 2 crackers and peanut butter
    • 2 cups water
Game and Practice Day Nutrition Guidelines: Post-Exercise
Goals
  • Get carbohydrates and a little protein to help muscles replenish energy stores.
  • Restore fluid losses.
Why?
  • Within 30 minutes after exercising, muscles need carbohydrate so the body can replace glycogen and protein so the body can repair muscles used in exercise.
What?
  • Drink: chocolate milk, 100% fruit juice or diluted juice, smoothie, drinkable yogurt.
  • Don’t forget water! Sip down until no longer thirsty and then have a little more.
  • If your hockey player wants to eat, try:
    • Fruit with cottage cheese or yogurt
    • Cereal with milk
    • Cheese and crackers
    • Peanut butter or cheese sandwich
    • Trail mix
Game and Practice Day Nutrition Guidelines: Post-Game/Practice Dinner
Goals
  • Eat to restore energy, repair muscles and replace minerals lost in sweat and to supply nutrients for growth, development and energy for tomorrow.
Why?
  • Young athletes are growing. The body and brain need good nutrition to meet all growth, development and activity needs.
  • Fuel stores are best replenished within a few hours after working out.
What?
  • Eat foods from each of the four food groups at dinner:
    • Meat and Alternatives: Lean meats, fish or alternatives such as tofu, legumes, tempeh.
    • Milk and Alternatives: Fluid milk or fortified soy beverages, or yogurt.
    • Grain Products: Whole grain rice, pasta, breads, cereals, quinoa, bulgur, barley and couscous.
    • Vegetables and Fruits: To maximise nutrients from vegetables, try to have at least two different colours of vegetables at dinner. Have at least one serving of fruit. Rotate fruits throughout the week to get maximum variety.

Good nutrition is essential for all children - especially those actively involved in sports such as hockey - as it supports their physical activity (and performance), growth, development and overall health. To help establish good eating habits, involve kids in food selection, meal planning and preparation. They will be more likely to consume a nutritionally sound diet with lots of variety and develop lifelong healthy eating habits.

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