This week, I’ve been participating in a very exciting hockey camp here in Pittsburgh. Jeremy Hoy, owner of Finish First Sports Performance organized this elite camp as a way for local hockey players to participate in pro-style practices both on and off the ice. The camp is all-inclusive when it comes to what the players need to know. By that I mean on-ice drills, speed skating, off-ice strength and condition and my involvement- nutrition!
So what do I feed athletes at a camp of this caliber?
First and foremost is helping them understand the importance of eating a healthy breakfast before they arrive. Daily nutrition and hydration is just as important as what is consumed directly before, during and after their practice sessions. With high intensity on-ice training lasting almost two hours, the players exit the ice to a homemade (yes…no prepackaging required!) smoothie that has the exact nutritional breakdown they need (see recipe below). The smoothie recipe I selected was picked for a reason. The athletes only have a 45 minute break from the time they exit the ice until they start their off-ice training with Jeremy. And believe me, these athletes aren’t sitting around.
So what are they eating?
During the activity the athletes are provided with and encouraged to drink sports drink. The intensity and duration of the on-ice training calls for more than just water; they need the carbohydrates as a continuous fuel source and the electrolytes to replace the sodium and little potassium lost in sweat.
Between on-ice and off-ice training they have only 45 minutes. A smoothie that provides enough carbohydrate to fuel the activity, a moderate amount of protein to support muscles and is absent of fat so absorption is not slowed is a perfect option.
When the camp is over the players are encouraged to start the recovery process immediately with a post-workout snack while still at the gym. A combination of recovery foods are provided for them including chocolate milk, granola bars, SoyJoy bars, raisins and trail mix. The players are encouraged to go home to a healthy meal within 1-2 hours and get plenty of sleep so that they can recover for the next day.
Aside from providing the fuel, I am helping the players understand why they need it, teaching them what to choose and making sure they actually eat/drink while they are there.
The most important message: to be elite, you have to eat like the elite. It would be sad to let bad nutrition cost you the game.