Kids eat right.

Ice Speed: Fueling Strategies for Hockey

By Monique Ryan, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN
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When it comes to fuel, the demands of high school ice hockey players are great. Speeding explosively across the ice requires muscular strength, endurance and superior skating skills. Consuming optimal foods and fluids both on and off the ice is essential to sustaining energy levels throughout the school day, during practice and in preparation for competition.

Hockey training, muscle building and growth require plenty of calories, most of which come from carbohydrates. That's because both on-ice and weight room workouts are predominantly fueled by muscle carbohydrate, or glycogen, and need to be replenished between daily training sessions. Include nutritious sources such as whole-grain cereals, breads, rice and pasta, potatoes, winter squash, peas, corn, low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt, and fruits and vegetables in meals and snacks for optimal recovery.

Daily protein requirements are easily met from a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of poultry, fish, lean red meat, low-fat cheese, milk and yogurt, and dried beans. But to really maximize muscle building and recovery you should practice the specific nutrient timing choices outlined below:

  • Aim for 15 to 20 grams of high quality protein plus 25 grams of carbohydrate one hour before resistance training. For example, this could come from 2 cups of low-fat milk (16 grams protein) and 1 large banana (25 grams carbohydrate). Add another 25 grams of carbohydrate such as 1 cup of 100 percent juice if the weight training session is followed by ice time practice. Pre-hydrate with 16 to 24 ounces of fluid which can include the milk and juice.
  • After weight training, rehydrate with 20 ounces of fluid for every pound of weight lost during practice. Replenish with a high-protein smoothie along with one granola bar for 20 grams of high-quality protein and at least 50 grams of carbohydrate. 
  • Follow practice and a game with a meal providing a 5-ounce portion of lean protein such as chicken, fish, pork or beef for 30 grams of protein and whole-grain carbohydrates such as 1½ cups brown rice and 1 cup of cooked vegetables for 50 to 75 grams wholesome carbohydrates two to three hours later.

High-protein foods consumed before and after weight training can include low-fat or fat-free yogurt, cottage cheese and plain or chocolate milk, fortified soy beverage, chicken, eggs, lean red meat, peanut butter, tuna, tofu and tempeh. High-protein energy bars are easy to pack and convenient when other foods aren't available. Most provide 20 grams of protein. Read labels and avoid products containing unneeded ingredients.

On-ice hydration also is essential to minimize the performance draining effects of dehydration. For workouts lasting over 75 minutes, consume a sports drink at the rate of 4 to 8 fluid ounces every 15 to 20 minutes.

Below is a sample menu of meal and snacks for after-school weight training and ice time practice for a 180-pound male teen that provides 3480 calories: 500 grams carbohydrate, 204 grams protein, 74 grams fat. Drink water regularly throughout the day.

Breakfast

Oatmeal, cooked, 1 cup
Fat-free milk, 8 ounces
Banana, 1 large
Raisins, 2 tablespoons
Hardboiled egg, 1 medium

Lunch

Turkey, 6 ounces
Bread, 2 slices
String cheese, 1ounce
Pretzels, 1 cup
Carrot sticks, ½ cup
Apple, 1 medium
Almonds, 18
Reduced-fat milk, 8 ounces

Snack

High protein energy bar, 1 medium
Dried apricots, 8 whole
Low-fat milk, 16 ounces

Weight Training, 45 minutes

Hydrate with water

Post-Weight Training

Low-fat chocolate milk as recovery drink (if it I can be refrigerated at the rink)
Granola bar, 1 medium

Hockey Practice – On Ice, 90 minutes

Sports drink, 32 ounces per hour

Dinner

Chicken breast, 6 ounces
Baked potato, 1 large
Green beans, 1 cup
Bread, 2 slices
Margarine, 2 teaspoons
Fat-free milk, 8 ounces

Dessert

Peach, 1 medium
Fig cookies, 2