Hockey is a fast and demanding sport requiring proper fueling to reach peak performance. Repeated bouts of high intensity, anaerobic shifts result in rapid decline of glycogen stores. Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrate. It takes 24-48 hours to fully replenish our limited stores. About 60% of muscle glycogen is used during a single game. (Nutrition and ice hockey performance.
Can J Appl Sport Sci. 1979 Mar;4(1):98-9.). IF you do the math, even if your glycogen stores are at 100% before game 1 you’ll be lucky if you get back up to 60% stores in time for game 2 on the same day. A recovery eating plan is essential to speed glycogen recovery before playing again the next day.
Therefore the hockey player’s diet must continually replenish carbohydrate stores. Carbohydrate loading in the days before a tournament and in between games has been shown to increase: distance skated, number of shifts skated, amount of time skated within shifts and skating speed (“Diet and muscle glycogen concentration in relation to physical performance in Swedish elite ice hockey players. Int J Sport Nutr. 1996 Sep;6(3):272-84.”)
For example (assuming you play HARD):
Friday game 1: Before 100g glycogen - After 40g glycogen
Eat/drink right after the game – carb protein recovery snack (See below)
Friday game 2: 60g glycogen – After the game 5g glycogen (cutting it close)
Eat/drink right after the game to speed recovery for next day.
What to eat the day before a tournament?
The day before: Try to graze on high carbohydrate foods throughout the day. Eat every 3-4 hours throughout the day. Choose low fat, moderate protein high carb foods. Lots of fluids because every gram of glycogen is stores with 3 grams of water.
For the drive pack foods such as:
Fruit, trail mix, yogourt, sandwiches, sport drinks, juice boxes, sport bars ect… OR if you stop to eat go for foods such as Subway (low fat toppings) or Wendy’s grilled chicken baked potato.
Dinner the night before: Don’t overstuff yourself. You want fast digestion so you feel light and fast the next day.
Pasta, bread and salad ( light on the cheese, no cream sauces)
Grilled Chicken, rice and veggies
Clubhouse sandwich with salad (hold the mayo and fries until after the tournament)
Pizza with veggies and chicken toppings
Pizza with sausage and pepperoni
Lasagna (too much fat)
Alcohol (slows glycogen storage)
What to eat the morning before the game:
Try to eat 2-3 hours before the game. High carbohydrate, moderate protein, low fat. Fat takes longer to digest and therefore can feel heavy in your stomach Foods you are used to eating before exercising. See pg 14-18 of my new book
Choose: Cereal, juice, oatmeal (any hot cereal), milk, fruit, toast (get butter on the side), peanut butter, poached/hardboiled eggs, scrambled eggs (ask for no oil on the grill if possible), ask for egg beaters (some hotels carry this), egg white omelets, bagels, light cream cheese, ham instead of bacon, pancakes/French toast (easy on the butter and syrup)….
Avoid: cheese omelets, sausage, homefries, muffins (usually high in fat and sugar), sugary cereals, too much coffee (can cause GI upset)
Eating between games is critical for recovery
Remember that you are already maxing out your glycogen stores. If you eat within 15 minutes of the game you can double your speed of glycogen recovery (which is slow to begin with). Choose high carb, high glycemic index, moderate protein, fast acting foods. See pages 20-21 of my new book.
Immediately following a game: (within 15 minutes)
Juice, fruit, yogourt
Pop will work – not the healthiest choice however.
Munch on high carb, moderate protein, low fat foods to satisfy your hunger. Think of it as small frequent meals and snacks rather than one big meal. Follow pre-exercise guidelines according to the time of your next game pg 16-17.
Ideas: Fruit, trail mix, yogourt, sandwiches(low fat toppings), sport drinks, juice boxes, sport bars ect… OR if you eat out go for foods such as Subway (low fat toppings) or Wendy’s grilled chicken baked potato.