Thankfully, more and more young hockey players are starting to make the connection between what they eat and how they play. Staying well fueled is just as important for young athletes as it is for the professional athlete. There is the analogy of thinking of your body as a high performance sports car, let’s use a Ferrari. The fuel you put in your gas tank is food. Would you put the lowest grade of fuel in your Ferrari? Of course not!! But if your kids are enjoying processed fast food on a regular basis you are putting garbage in their gas tank. Would you let your Ferrari run out of gas? No!! You would always make sure it had fuel. Peak athletic performance requires plenty of high quality fuel...not garbage.
Below are some of the most common topics that come up with parents, coaches and athletes. Hydration Tips - Encourage your child to drink by a schedule...not by thirst. Have your child monitor their urine color. If their urine is light like lemonade that’s a sign of good hydration. If it is dark like apple juice, they need to drink more fluids. Have your child weigh herself/himself before and after physical activity to gauge how much weight is typically lost.
A few hours before exercise consume about 16 oz of fluids. During exercise consume about 4-12 oz every 15-20 minutes.
After exercise, have your child replace every pound lost with 24 oz of fluid. Eating for Recovery Immediately following exercise muscles act like a sponge for refueling and optimal recovery. The critical time for replacing these energy stores called glycogen is within the first 15-25 minutes after exercise. Simply waiting two hours can impair recovery and performance. The best option for quick recovery is typically a fluid as hockey players are often not hungry right after practising or playing and it is usually more practical than eating a meal. Surprisingly, one of the very best options for quick recovery is chocolate milk. Yes, that is correct!! The additional carbs in chocolate milk give it the perfect ratio of carbs and protein for refueling. Then you want to follow it up with a good recovery meal. The best foods for refueling are primarily carbohydrates with some protein like eating a chicken breast with some whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce and vegetables.
Recovery Tip - Again try low-fat chocolate milk for recovery.
How to Help Your Child to Gain Weight Safely“How can I help my son gain weight?” is the most common question. It is one that I have asked many times in my youth!! Did you know that it takes approximately 2400 extra calories to build one pound of muscle? Adding lean muscle is accomplished by combining a good training program along with taking in additional calories. This often requires eating even when your athlete is not hungry. Skipping meals is a definite no-no for gaining weight. With limited time to eat at school along with practice and games a planned meal/snack schedule can help add good calories to accomplish a gradual and healthy weight gain.Weight Gain Tip - Add a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after school/before practice and/or before bed. Snacking on trail mix is another easy way to add extra calories. Aim to add about 400-500 calories per day.
What to Eat - Fueling muscles with high performance fuels will improve performance by optimizing energy levels. Eating well gives you energy to practice better which will ultimately help you to play better when it really counts. An easy way to think of eating right for mealtime is 1-2-3.Always have a source of protein such as chicken breast, fish, pork tenderloin, or lean ground beef. Also beans, lentils and eggs can provide your protein. This should be about a 1/4 of the plate. Choose whole grains such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat pancakes, whole wheat pita, whole wheat English muffins, etc. This should be about 1/4 of the plate. Finish off the plate with vegetables. Broccoli, carrots, bell peppers (the more color the better). Take your child grocery shopping with you and let them help pick out some new vegetables to try. Let them know vegetables provide powerful antioxidants that are great for athletes. Talk performance. Adding fresh spinach to a smoothie of frozen berries and milk is a great way to get some veggies in and you can’t even taste the spinach. Vegetables should cover about 50% of the plate.
Below is a Sample Meal Plan for a Young Athlete (Varies greatly based on individual goals, activity, intensity, current weight and gender)
7:45 am Breakfast Bowl of Kashi Cereal with fresh berries1 cup 1% milk
10:00 am Morning Snack 1/2 cup trail mix with dried fruit and nuts (dried cranberries/cherries and almonds)
11:30 am Lunch turkey on whole wheat bread with light mayo/or mustard, 1% milk, baby carrots. Banana
3:30 pm Snack 2 slices whole wheat bread with peanut butter and water, 10 oz Gatorade
5:30 pm Recovery 20 oz Gatorade or Chocolate Milk
6:30 pm Dinner 5 oz grilled chicken, 1 cup broccoli and carrots, 1 cup whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce
8-9 pm Snack Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich on Whole Grain Bread or trail mix.
If you have any specific questions about your aspiring hockey player and his or her nutrition and training practices...please feel free to ask me!!
**Special thanks to Mitzi Dulen for additional resources and info**