One of the most important aspects of enhancing athletic performance in young hockey players is the practice of proper nutrition habits. Proper nutrition is the key to increased energy and recovery during and after games, practices and training. However, it is probably the most overlooked component of a young hockey player’s regime, and it still surprises me how many athletes don’t eat enough of the right foods.
Below is a list of amazing “power foods” that I recommend always having on hand:
Bananas contain important vitamins that aid in muscle recovery and, because they are a good source of potassium, they also help to prevent muscle cramps. They are a great easy-to-digest, high-energy pre-game carbohydrate source and, when combined with a protein, also a good post-workout recovery food.
2. Mixed Nuts and Seeds
Mixed nuts and seeds are a natural source of healthy fats and protein. They contain many important minerals for healthy body functions. However, because of their high fat content, they should not be consumed immediately pre- or post-game as fat slows down the absorption of carbohydrates.
Yogurt offers a good source of dairy protein, Vitamin D and calcium. If you are eating it as a snack before or after a game, be sure it is a low- or non-fat variety.
4. Meal Replacement Protein Drinks
Meal replacement protein drinks are a super handy source of nutrition when you are on the go. However, make sure to research the ingredients and to find a reputable, high quality brand. Also be sure to follow the recommended daily intake guidelines — particularly regarding age-appropriate protein intake.
Apples are a good source of immunity boosting Vitamin C. They are also a great source of fibre but be sure to avoid as a pre-game snack because they can sit a little heavy in the stomach.
Pasta’s complex carbohydrates deliver a slower release of energy throughout the day. I recommend adding a meat protein, such as chicken or beef with sauce to ensure it is a balanced meal. If eating a full meal before a game, be sure to give yourself at least four hours to digest it.
7. Cottage Cheese and Pineapple
This is one of my favourite snacks. It might sound like a crazy combination, but it’s a great protein and carbohydrate source that can provide the body with loads of energy. Again, choose the low- or non-fat version if eating directly before or after working out.