By: Denis Collier, HNN hockey dietitian
Your little guy (or girl!) may very well be a future NHL superstar. They may tape their stick exactly like Sydney
Crosby. They may copy the very same warm-up moves as Martin Brodeur. They may even wear their hair like Alexander Ovechkin. Mimicking today’s hockey heroes in these ways certainly should not be discouraged… well maybe the hair one. However, it is NOT appropriate for kids to imitate NHLers in all ways. A prime
example of this is nutrition.
In the age of the internet, we can find out virtually everything about celebrities like NHL players. Information
about how NHL players eat and train is readily available. Even without looking for it, we can turn on the television and
see advertisements for products being endorsed by the very players our kids idolize. It is important to realize that
what applies to NHL players may not be applicable to our kids.
There are at least two great reasons for this:
1) An average NHL player is well over 200 pounds and 6 feet tall. Most pee-wees are not (and if they are,
they may want to consider a career as a professional wrestler rather than a hockey player). With a larger size comes a need for greater amounts of almost every nutrient. It has become highly fashionable for NHL players (as well as
most other pro athletes) to use nutritional supplements as a way to augment their nutritional intake. In the vast majority of cases, these supplements aren’t even truly necessary for NHL players. They definitely aren’t necessary
for our kids.
2) An NHL game consists of three 20 minute periods, with intermissions in between, meaning the entire event
takes between 2½-3 hours in real time. Players play in 82 of them per season. Most minor hockey games are done in less than an hour, lest you upset the group waiting to take the ice right after you. Players are lucky if they have they have three 12 minute periods of “stop-time”. Even if our pee-wee players had the same size (and nutritional requirements) as NHLers, the sheer brevity of their time on ice per season means we are looking at an entirely different set of nutritional needs.
In summary, even if your kid is going to be the next Crosby or Brodeur or Ovechkin one day, it is important to
realize for today they still need to eat like a pee-wee. This means by far the most appropriate strategy is to eat a generally well-balanced diet, and not get carried away trying to follow some overly complex scheme of nutrition and supplementation.