Nutrition is an essential part of being a young athlete. Unfortunately, many young hockey players don’t pay attention to nutrition when it comes to
fuelling their performance. Not only does nutrition matter before a big game or practice, but what food is consumed and when food is consumed can have a huge effect on performance, focus, and injury prevention. Not to mention these athletes are still growing and need a good amount
of proper nutrition for general health and wellness.
Post-game nutrition is a key element in encouraging muscle growth, muscle recovery and muscle repair. Not to mention, when you give your body the proper nutrition it needs after a hard skate, you are strengthening your body to help prevent future injuries.
Protein plays an essential role for a young athlete’s muscle repair and recovery, but carbohydrates are just as important because it’s used replace the energy stores they just used on the ice. Forget high sugar and artificially flavoured protein shakes and stick to real, whole foods as much as possible – like a handful of nuts, fruit, trail mix, a glass of milk or a post-game smoothie.
The hour after a game or practice is the ultimate time to feed the body. Having something on hand that you want to eat that contains carbohydrates and protein is key. Look to fruit or muffins that are portable and easy to eat.
Don’t forget to hydrate. Hydration is essential for recovery, even on off-days. Water is generally all you need, especially if you’re pairing it with a snack that includes some sodium to replace electrolytes. Drinking a litre or two of water before a game will not hydrate your body because it can only handle so much at a time. Try to drink water throughout the day, every day, leading up to games and especially after to replace any water lost.
Your young athlete will not wither away if they don’t eat within an hour of a game, but practicing proper nutrition to fuel the body for performance can be an excellent training process to help players understand its benefits as they get older and it becomes increasingly important. Starting healthy habits as young as possible can foster a healthy relationship between sports and food.
NHL players fuel their bodies with real, whole foods to nourish their bodies. If you want to continue to develop, nutrition needs to be a part of your game plan.
This post-game smoothie is an option to consider, when trying to help your athlete recover after
a day at the rink.
^ Substitutions for allergies and intolerances also included.
This smoothie contains lots of carbohydrates with natural sugars (fruit and milk) and will replace the energy stores lost during the workout, as well as replenish electrolytes. The protein in the milk and hemp hearts is sufficient. Most young athletes can only digest approximately 20g of
protein at a time, so overloading the protein will not aid muscle recovery or growth. Kefir contains probiotics which will help boost the immune system. If you’re sick, you can’t play. If pineapples and mangos aren’t your cup of tea, they can be substituted with any fruit you like.
Post-Game Recovery Smoothie
2 cups milk (or milk alternative of choice)
1/4 cup frozen pineapple
1/4 cup frozen mango
Handful fresh baby spinach
3 tbsp hemp hearts
2 tbsp plain kefir
Blend until spinach is completely blended in.
Milk: You can use any dairy milk or milk alternative.
Spinach: Can omit or use baby kale
Hemp Hearts: Have chia seeds or flax meal? Go ahead and use them. If using flax, make sure it
is ground before adding; whole flaxseeds are not broken down by our body and you will not get
the nutrients inside the seed.
Kefir: Kefir is a fermented dairy product that contains probiotics. You can substitute with yogurt.
If you are intolerant to dairy, you can omit.