By: Denis Collier, Hockey Dietitian
The minor hockey seasons of my youth were always capped off by the provincial tournament over Easter vacation. Our team would load on to a bus and drive hours to some small town where we’d play 5 or 6 games over 3 or 4 days. One year we even flew to Labrador. These tournaments were highlights not only of the hockey season itself, but of the entire calendar year. That includes Christmas and summer holidays. As I grew older and played higher levels of hockey the season concluded with play-offs – the more series’ the better! However your hockey season ends, there’s a good chance it will involve some kind of travel. Travel presents some unique nutritional challenges for athletes. The purpose of this article is to help you maximize your nutrition during this most important time of year.
When thinking about nutrition in traveling to a year-end tournament or play-off series I am reminded of one of the most fundamental principles in all of sports nutrition:
“A great diet won’t make an average athlete elite, but a poor diet can make an elite athlete average”.
By: Mary Howley Ryan, HNN hockey dietitian
After playing 12 years of adult recreational level hockey, the most challenging games nutritionally are tournament weekends. Playing 3-5 games in 48 hours (or less) means both fueling and recovery nutrition compete for time and attention with sleep, rest, socializing while watching other teams play, and for many adults - a post-game adult beverage ritual.
Additional challenges with adult hockey players, especially women, include trepidation about eating too many carbohydrates. Hockey uses a lot of muscle glycogen for the all-out anaerobic bursts on the ice, as well as liver glycogen to fuel your brain in the many split-second decisions throughout the game. To fully replenish depleted glycogen stores we may need up to 24 hours and if you start out with less-than-full stores you may feel sluggish before you think you should.