Healthy Hockey Nutrition: How to Eat Right for Peak Performance
What distinguishes a professional athlete, such as an elite NHL player, from those who play sport for a hobby? Talent is obviously a factor, but dedication certainly makes a difference. The best hockey players might dazzle us on the ice week after week, but they’re never satisfied with their level of performance. They’ll go back to practice and seek to set the bar even higher.
They will do anything to give them a competitive edge, and that includes being extremely particular about what they eat and drink – and when. By following a strict diet to precise guidelines, the Crosbys and Ovechkins of this world make sure that they are physically and mentally ready for gameday. They stick rigidly to a scheduled intake of mostly carbohydrates and proteins; you won’t see them ducking into McDonalds or Burger King for a cheeky midnight snack.
Healthy nutrition for hockey players and other elite athletes is as much about timing their meals as what those meals contain. The best time to eat the main meal is 3-4 hours before hitting the ice, so that the food is digested in time to ensure peak performance. If time is tight, they’ll have a smaller meal 1-2 hours before a game or practice. They also make time to eat and drink within a couple of hours of coming off the ice, as failing to refuel afterwards will leave muscles going without the reparation they need.
The folks at Tucker Hockey created this great infographic on how to effectively manage diet for hockey players. The key is knowing what nutrients to maximize and avoid, along with the best times to eat and drink so that your body is primed for your time on the ice. NHL pros have mealtimes down to a fine art; that helps in no small way to set them up for performing to their best on game day.