Nutrition guidelines for hockey
By Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D.
Hockey is a high-intensity, maximal-outburst activity, and hockey players expend a tremendous number of calories in practice and in competition. The fuel sources for hockey -- glycogen (the form in which carbohydrates are stored in the body) and phosphocreatine (a source of energy in muscle contraction) -- require optimal carbohydrate and protein intake.
Fueling the body at frequent, regular intervals with appropriate amounts of food will enhance strength, speed and stamina. A hockey player's diet should be based primarily on starch-containing food with less emphasis placed on protein and fat.
- Plan eating in conjunction with workouts in an effort to insure adequate fuel to optimize performance and delay fatigue.
- Eat every three hours to ensure the body a consistent fuel source that provides the energy substrate (a substance on which an enzyme acts) for sport.
- Consume an adequate caloric level to meet your needs. Inadequate calories will hasten fatigue, contribute to poor performance and increase muscle breakdown. See "Custom Nutrition Goals".
- Provide the body with the right mix of nutrients, emphasizing carbohydrates. Visualize a peace sign. The triangle at the bottom of the peace sign should be protein, such as chicken, red meat, pork, fish or eggs. The remaining sections should include starch (pasta, rice, bread or cereal), and fruit or vegetables.
- Drink adequate fluid for high-intensity activity, to optimize performance and to prevent injuries. See "Hydration Guidelines".
Custom nutrition goals
- Calories: Minimum weight (pounds) x 23 (For example: a 150-pound athlete would require at least 3,650 calories per day)
- Carbohydrate: Weight x 3 to 5 = grams carbohydrate per day
- Protein: Weight x 0.7 = grams protein per day
- Fat: Weight x 0.45 = grams fat per day
- Fluid: Minimum weight x 0.67= ounces fluid per day
- Water: Drink 16 ounces of water before bed, after first morning void and two hours before a practice or game.
- Fluids: The best choices are water, sports drinks, and juices or fruit drinks diluted in a one-to-one ratio. Caffeinated, carbonated or alcoholic beverages are poor choices.Drink:
- Eight to 10 ounces, 10 minutes before a game. Try this in practice first!
- Six to 8 ounces at all breaks during practices or games.
- Twenty-four ounces after practices and games for every pound lost!
Coordinate eating before, during and after practices and games. Pre-activity meals should primarily include carbohydrates, such as pasta, stir-fry, waffles or pancakes, or a fruit smoothie made with milk, yogurt, pudding mix and juice. Consume a sports drink or diluted fruit drink immediately before taking the ice. This plan will provide additional fuel for the body during exercise.
During exercise, consume carbohydrates at every opportunity. Sports drinks, diluted fruit drinks, a handful of sweetened cereal, gummy type candy or sports gel with 8 ounces of water will provide additional fuel to working muscles.
Carbohydrates should be consumed a soon as possible after practices and games -- ideally within the first 30 to 45 minutes after exercise. Some of the best choices are:
- 16 ounces of fruit drink
- 8 ounces of concentrated carbohydrate beverage
- Three granola or cereal bars
- ½ to 1 cup of sweetened cereal
- ½ cup of gummy type candy
The bottom line
- Eat every three hours
- Drink a beverage with every meal and between meals
- Eat and drink during breaks and practices
- Emphasize carbohydrates
- Eat soon after leaving the ice
Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D. is the director of sports nutrition for the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health System. She is the nutrition consultant to the University of Pittsburgh Athletics Department, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Riverhounds and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She is also a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, providing nutrition expertise in print, television and radio.
The information, including opinions and recommendations, contained in this website is for educational purposes only. Such information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. No one should act upon any information provided in this website without first seeking medical advice from a qualified medical physician.