Feeding the Monster starts with feeding our bodies. Eating properly is massively important if we want to become strong, fast, athletic hockey players. It is one of the foundational Keystone Habits for all athletes. We’ll learn more about Keystone Habits later in the training camp.
Think of food as the fuel for your body. Much like a high performance racing car, your body won’t perform optimally if it isn’t adequately gassed up with high performance fuel.
What should I eat?
There are literally hundreds of different diets and thousands of books written about dieting, food and nutrition. Here are some of the most popular diets. I’m sure you could quickly come up with a lot more.
- Vegetarian diet
- Vegan diet
- The Zone diet
- Ketogenic diet
- Mediterranean diet
- Paleo diet
- Western diet
- Atkins diet
- Weight Watchers diet
- South Beach diet
- Raw food diet
The purpose of each of these diets varies. Many are designed to help people lose weight, though there are certainly other benefits that come from following each of these diets. We’re going to focus specifically on nutrition for young athletes.
Master the Basics of Nutrition
Until you are consistently eating like a successful athlete, don’t worry too much about vitamins, supplements, macro-nutrients, meal timing and a host of other advanced nutritional strategies.
Nutrition is a tool that you can use to get a big advantage over your competition. You can think of the food you eat as fuel for your body. Benefits of improved nutrition include:
- Improved strength, power and speed
- Higher energy levels
- Improved recovery time
- Better body composition
- Improved focus
- Improved resistance to sickness
If you really want to be a top athlete, you have to consistently eat a healthy diet. Think about your role model. What would Sidney Crosby eat? What would Hayley Wickenheiser eat?
Changing your diet is about developing new keystone habits and routines. It is never easy changing things that you may have been doing for years.
The 7 Commandments of Nutrition for Athletes
Source: Waterloo Warriors High Performance Program – Athlete Nutrition
- Eat lean protein with every meal. Protein supports lean muscle growth and is essential if you want to get stronger. For a 125 lb. athlete, you should be trying to get 20-25g of protein per meal. Examples of 20-25g of protein: 4 oz. skinless boneless chicken breast, 2-3 whole eggs, 1 scoop of protein powder, 4 oz. top sirloin beef steak, 1/2 fillet of salmon, 1 cup of 1% cottage cheese. There are lots of plant based sources of protein as well.
- Eat vegetables or fruit with every meal. Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables contain all sorts of good things for athletes. Vitamins, fibre, and more. Think of having a fistful at every meal. Salads and frozen vegetables make this easy.
- Eat carbohydrates from whole, natural sources. While many diets proclaim the value of eating low-carb, athletes need carbohydrates to replenish your system from the fuel used in training and competition. Try to get your carbs from whole, natural sources that contain fibre and plenty of nutrients. Avoid highly processed glucose-spiking junk foods. Good examples include rice, quinoa, oats, whole-grain pasta, potatoes, legumes and organic breads.
- Eat healthy fats every day. Healthy fats support brain and nervous system function, assist with sleep and recovery and help transport essential vitamins and minerals into your body. Healthy fat sources include animal fats, nuts, natural peanut butter (the only ingredient should be peanuts), olive or organic coconut oil, avocados, eggs. Avoid trans-fats and hydrogenated oils. These are chemically altered oils and are usually are only found in processed foods.
- Drink at least 3 litres of WATER every day. Proper hydration will increase your energy levels and improve your overall health and body composition. Buy and use a big water bottle. The less often you have to refill it the more likely you are to be successful. You can flavour the water with lemon juice, slices of fruit, cucumber or cinnamon sticks. Avoid drinks with added sugar.
- Have a post-workout recovery shake. If you want your muscles to grow, it is important that you give them the fuel them up immediately after you deplete their energy stores. The best way to do this is a shake, since solid foods can take a few hours to digest. There are many good recovery shakes: Biosteel and BeachBody are just two. Try for a 2:1 ration of carbs (30-40g) to protein (15-20g). Chocolate milk is another good option in a pinch. You can also mix your own by combining a 500ml bottle of Gatorade with a typical scoop of whey protein.
- Minimize consumption of food and drink (alcohol) that disturbs recovery and regeneration. This one should be obvious.
I’m sure you’ve still got a lot of questions about nutrition for athletes. There will be more information to come later in the training camp.
- Again, you’ll notice there was nothing in TeamBuildr today. I’d like you to think about how we can start adding daily hockey skill development into our training programs.
- How could I incorporate stickhandling into my daily routine?
- How can I practice my shooting when I’m not at the rink?
- What can I do to work on my skating? Maybe rollerblading?
Pick one of these activities and spend 15-20 minutes doing it. After you’re done, think about how you could improve your environment to make this practice more effective.