Healthy Foods for Hockey Season
Fall has arrived which means hockey season is around the corner. It’s time to get the skates sharpened, sticks taped, and your body ready to hit the ice. But eating healthy foods for hockey season is also a big part of the game! How you fuel your body all season long, and before and after a game will directly affect your performance on the ice.
Contrary to popular beliefs, chocolate milk is NOT the best thing to drink before your game, and it is also not the best recovery drink (not even close). It’s full of simple white sugar that may give you a quick burst of energy in the short term but leave you drained an hour later and craving more sugar.
Chocolate milk is NOT the best thing to drink before your game, and it is also not the best recovery drink.
Eating the right whole foods, 1-2 hours before game time is ideal. It will give you the fuel you need to carry your body through the game with lots of energy to last. Complex carbohydrates meals (or large snacks) will provide a slow increase in blood sugar, saving glucose and providing energy for when you need it on the ice.
Some great meal / large snack healthy foods for hockey pre-fueling include:
- Brown rice with beans (lentils, chic peas, black beans, kidney beans)
- Pasta-preferably brown rice pasta or Kamut pasta. Kamut is an ancient grain that taste similar to wheat with much less gluten than wheat.
- 2 eggs with whole grain toast or sprouted wheat toast
- All natural nut butter (almond, hazelnut, cashew or peanut) with brown rice cakes or toast.
- Quinoa and vegetables (add some beans if desired).
- Vegetable Salad with salmon or chicken. Add some quinoa or rice.
- Smoothie with yogurt, fruit, natural nut butter, hemp seeds, chia seeds and almond/coconut or cashew milk and ice. Use dates, raw honey or pure maple syrup to sweeten if necessary. Usually half a banana and a couple of dates gives a lot of sweetness.
If you like coconut, add 1 tsp. of coconut oil. This healthy saturated fat will keep you fuller for longer.
These foods will increase blood sugar slowly and store the glucose for when you need it on the ice. This will allow you to have continued energy that will last the entire game.
If you only have an hour or less until game time, a healthy, simple carbohydrate snack that will store energy quickly is what you need.
Some good small, snack-size healthy foods for hockey include:
- Any fruit such as a banana, apple, or avocado and 5-10 raw almonds or a slice of cheese.
- Oatmeal (plain) – you can add pure maple syrup to sweeten. Add a few raw nuts and fruit like berries/banana. For a creamy coconut flavour add 1 tsp of coconut oil. The healthy fats in the nuts and the coconut oil will keep you going strong.
- A bowl of whole grain cereal and milk (almond, rice, coconut or cashew milk are good alternatives).
- Smoothies with berries, almond butter, hemp protein powder, almond milk, plain yogurt, dates/bananas and/or a teaspoon of pure maple syrup or raw honey to sweeten. Add 1 tsp. of coconut oil for coconut flavour and feel fuller for longer!
- Rice cakes with a slice of cheese or some nut butter.
- Plain yogurt with a banana and pure maple syrup to sweeten if necessary.
- Hummus with brown rice crackers and/or carrots.
To increase overall performance all season long, focus on drinking more pure water, and eating more fruit and vegetables to provide your body with antioxidants. Raw (not roasted!) nuts and seeds, which are loaded with vitamins and minerals, will also boost energy and performance.
Try to eliminate refined sugar and carbohydrates from the diet. Processed snacks and sugary electrolyte drinks will only drain energy and decrease performance in the long term. The body does not receive the nutrients it needs from these foods and drinks. A fantastic alternative electrolyte drink is coconut water.
Processed snacks and sugary electrolyte drinks will only drain energy and decrease performance in the long term.
It’s also very simple to make your own healthy electrolyte drink at home with pure water, ½-1 tsp. of raw honey or ¼-cup fresh fruit juice, a squeeze of lemon, and mineral drops which can be purchased at any health food store.
Make sure you are hydrated before the game, and stay hydrated throughout. If you are hungry after the game, any of the snacks above are a perfect combination of protein and carbohydrates (usually needed in the ratio of 1:4 after a workout).
It isn’t hard to make sure your body is getting the right fuel it needs for the game. As hockey season rolls around this year, make sure you’re ready to play at the top of your game!