4 Strategies to Support Hockey Playing Volume that Goes Up or Down

Adjusting your food intake as hockey playing volume goes up or down can be a challenge. We are here to guide you through this!

Do you eat more during heavy hockey times?

Less during light hockey times?

We delve into 4 nutrition strategies that should get your attention when the amount of training goes UP or DOWN.

    • The CUPCAKE effect
    • The FORGOT MY SKATES effect
  • The 4 KEY MOMENTS TO EAT 4 PERFORMANCE
  • The BIG JUICY YELLOW SPONGE analogy

WHY CHANGE ANYTHING WHEN TRAINING GOES UP OR DOWN

If you play a sport, your year can be divided into different phases or seasons based on your sport, and if you are involved in multiple sports, there can be overlap between phases. These phases generally are training, taper, competition, and transition/off-season. Depending on the season, our behaviours change. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t be caught wearing a bathing suit in the middle of winter (unless I was planning to do the famous Polar Bear Dip…which I never will), or a snowsuit in the middle of summer (especially in a heat wave). Similarly, each phase of your year as an athlete has its own set of nutrition needs that can inevitably help to maximize your performance during competition season by fuelling training and enhancing recovery. This is known as “periodized nutrition.”  

“The adaptive response to exercise training is determined by a combination of factors: the duration, the intensity, and the type of exercise as well as the frequency of training, but also by the quality and quantity of nutrition in the pre- and post-exercise periods. It is becoming increasingly clear that adaptations, initiated by exercise, can be amplified or dampened by Nutrition.”  

Technical? Yes

Let’s simplify this concept with specifics. We are going to breakdown our nutrition priorities for the ‘general preparation period' which comes before the season starts.

These priorities were inspired by this article: An Integrated, Multifactorial Approach to Periodization for Optimal Performance in Individual and Team Sports 

1) THE CUPCAKE EFFECT

Would you eat a frosted cupcake first thing in the morning on a school day? Maybe if it’s your birthday, but otherwise probably not. A cupcake won’t give you the energy you need to stay focused and be able to learn in class, nor will it keep you full for very long. After a training session and before the next one we also need to choose our food carefully to improve our skills and feel great doing it. Protein, your muscle builders, and carbohydrates, your energizers are key nutrients in fuelling for sport, but how much does your body need?

When it comes to protein, over the course of the day you need to be eating protein regularly because you can’t store it. A teenager weighing around 100 lb should be eating either: a palm-sized amount of animal protein, 2 eggs, or 1 cup of legumes to get enough protein at each meal. A teenager weighing around 150 lb should be eating either: a palm and a half-sized amount of animal protein, 3 eggs, or 1.5 cups of legumes to get enough protein at each meal. Need some ideas on how to do this? Check out Performance Meals and Recovery Snacks For nutrition pros (advanced sports science info):

Aim for  1.2-1.4 g/kg, but don’t eat it all at once! Spread it out by consuming 0.25-0.3g/kg at each meal and the same amount after a training session and before bed.

The other key category of food, our energizers gives us carbohydrates. The amount of energizers we need differs based on how long and how often we train. On a rest day or a light training day where training lasts for less than 1 hour, a teenager weighing around 100 lb should be eating:  1/2 cup of uncooked oats, 3/4 cup of rice, or 2 slices of bread to get enough carbohydrate at each meal. A teenager weighing around 150 lb should be eating: 3/4 cup of uncooked oats, 1.5 cups of rice, or 3 slices of bread to get enough carbohydrate at each meal. If you are training for a full 1 hour, add in an extra half serving of the energizer amounts above, and finally, on a heavy practice/game day you should double the number of energizers you eat at each meal from the amounts above.   For nutrition pros (advanced sports science info):

Rest/ Training < 1hr/day: 3.0-5.0 g/kg/day

Training or Competition 1 h/day: 5.0-7.0 g/kg/day

Training or Competition 1-3 h/day: 6.0-10.0 g/kg/day

Check out Performance Meals and Recovery Snacks for recipe ideas to get your muscle builders and energizers in.

2) FORGOT MY SKATES EFFECT

Imagine you let your friend who knows nothing about hockey pack your hockey bag for you. When you get to practice you open up your bag full of equipment and inside you find 2 hockey helmets, 3 left skates, and an extra pair of shin pads but no shoulder pads.   What the heck are you going to do with all of it?   You can have all this equipment but still be missing some key pieces. Think of our bodies the same way. These pieces are micronutrients and without them you may not be as effective while training.   Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals found in food that have superpowers that are so important for healthy bodies. There are hundreds of them in food and probably a thousand more we have yet to discover. Every individual food has its own unique set of micronutrients the same way every person has their own unique fingerprint, so no one food offers the same micronutrients.

This is why eating variety is so important!

There are a few micronutrients that athletes may not get enough of so you need to pay extra attention to foods that contain these: calcium, iron, and vitamin D.

3) 4 KEY MOMENTS TO EAT 4 PERFORMANCE

Are you familiar with the 4 key moments around sport when you need the right combination of foods at the right time? If you’ve ever eaten a big salad or a lot of vegetables seconds before walking on the ice, you probably get what I mean. Certain foods can make your training session better than others because of how they are digested, and how close you eat them to training matters. Take the 1st step to eating for performance and discover which foods can make your training sessions  better.

4) The BIG JUICY YELLOW SPONGE Analogy

We encourage you to think of your muscles like a big juicy yellow sponge. I mean, that’s what your muscles should be like if they are well hydrated. The harder we work, the more we sweat meaning we are losing water and minerals. If you lose A LOT of water and minerals during training you will start to have a dried out sponge.  But imagine what this sponge starts to look like if you showed up already a little dried out! Show up hydrated and continue to hydrate well (not necessarily matching your sweat rate but close to it). Then, after the training is over your goal is to replenish what was lost as this speeds up the recovery process.

Adjusting your food intake as training goes up or down is very important for your body. We understand that this can be a challenging concept to understand. We hope that giving you these 4 strategies will help you during the preparation phase.

How do you adjust as training goes up or down? Let us know in the comments!

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