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The 5 Basics for Solid Hockey Nutrition

By Mike Pickles on September 28, 2016

One of the most common questions I get asked from parents is if I can talk to their kid about nutrition. Every team and player I work with gets educated on high performance nutrition, but it has to start in the home and be reinforced by their parents.

When I ask players how their nutrition was during the day they often reply, “There’s no food in the house,” or “I had some chips and cookies after school.” So here’s the thing I think we all understand, young hockey players don’t do the grocery shopping and they don’t prepare their own meals. Parents need to hold themselves more accountable for supporting the healthy eating habits we talk about.

If parents don’t want their kids eating junk then they shouldn’t buy it. If they don’t want their kids skipping meals, they need to have healthy food already prepared in the house. I know parents are busy running kids around from practice to games on top of managing everything else, but it’s important to make time to prepare proper healthy meals.

These five tips are a great place for parents to start providing better nutrition to help their kids perform at a higher level have more energy and focus for games and workouts.

As mentioned above, parents have to make the time to prepare meals. As easy as it is to just provide money for fast food, it can’t be a common occurrence. Preparing food can seem arduous, but it doesn’t need to be. The best way to be prepared is cook more than you need for dinner and eat leftovers for a couple days. Tupperware it and stick it in the fridge, bam… done!

Again, as mentioned above, if parents don’t want their kids eating junk, the most obvious solution is just not to buy it in the first place. We need to eliminate the sugar cereals, cookies and chips because it’s just too easy for kids to reach for them first when they’re hungry. Load up on fruits and vegetables instead. Slice them up, put them in a Zip-Lock bag and make these foods the easiest choice in your house. 

Everyone’s heard about balanced nutrition that includes organic food, hormone/antibiotic free, grass fed, grain fed, vegan, all that stuff. Yes, healthy whole foods can be expensive, but not as expensive as eating out on a regular basis. A balanced diet includes eating healthy proteins and carbohydrates together to get the proper nutrients and energy players need.

It’s very important to know how much kids should be eating in one sitting, and each kid is different. It’s not hard for an active young hockey player to crush a huge plate of pasta or eat four or five pieces of pizza, just make sure it’s not right before a game. Blood sugar levels rise dramatically after consuming high sugar or high carbohydrate foods and can cause a crash in energy not too long after. This can have a very negative effect on a player’s physical stamina and mental focus during a game. A good guideline to follow is to consume smaller meals more frequently throughout the day to sustain energy levels.

This is critical for getting optimal energy when needed for games. Different foods eaten in different amounts will digest, break down, and release different amounts of energy at different times. So, understanding what foods to eat, reference tip #3, how much to eat, reference tip #4, and when to eat is the secret. As a rule of thumb, consume a larger meal approximately 2.5 to 3 hours before a game, and eat a small power-food snack 20 to 30 minutes before a game. When that large meal is finally digested it will sustain your energy throughout the game, especially for the third period. And that small snack will digest faster, giving the boost you need to get fired up for puck drop.

Remember, education starts in the home and needs to come from parents. Being prepared will save you time and money while setting your kids up for ultimate performance and a healthy lifestyle in the future.

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By Mike Pickles| September 28, 2016
Categories:  Performance

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