Coach Randy Rosen weighs in on nutrition

As a coach and a parent, my training philosophy involves a holistic experience on and off the ice. Peak performance comes from a balance of what we feed our bodies and our minds.

Far too often, I see kids coming to practice or games without the proper mix of protein, fat, carbs and sugars. This section is important for parents and players to review to ensure they tuck into great nutrition and practice healthy habits in order to power their choices and moves while playing the game they love.

Nutrition for adolescent and teen athletes is often complex and continuous. At Red Light Hockey, we regularly review the importance of good eating and we suggest the following guidelines to consider when feeding your athlete:

What to feed a young hockey player?

  • 2-3 servings of lean meat, poultry, fish, tofu, dry beans, eggs (one serving is 3 ounces)
  • 3-4 servings of milk, yogurt or cheese (one serving is 1 cup/250 ml of milk)
  • 6-11 servings of breads, cereals, rice and pasta (one serving is one slice bread or + cup of pasta, rice or cereal)
  • 2-4 servings of fruit (1 piece of fruit, + cup juice)
  • 3-5 servings of vegetables (1 serving is + cup cooked or 1 cup raw)

Carbohydrates and protein are important for two reasons:

  1. Carbs are a fast way for the body to get instant energy and endurance, but the body stores small amounts at a time. Muscles need carbs to function effectively, so make sure 60 per cent of your young athlete’s diet includes fruits, vegetables (simple carbs) and complex carbs such as high fibre and protein breads, cereals, pastas and rice (preferably brown). Sweets can add extra incentive, but go light on the sugar rush.
  2. Athletes need a little more than those who don’t work out regularly. They need protein (and water) to build any torn or expanded muscle. Research has revealed that a big steak at every meal isn’t the answer: most athletes need about 1.0 to1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight a day. Offer your athlete scrambled eggs for breakfast or a protein shake, three ounces of lean luncheon meat (vegetarian versions work too) on high fibre bread and 3 to 4 ounces of chicken, fish or tofu/beans at dinner. Snacks high in protein (like cheese, nuts, peanut butter, boosted protein milk and Greek yogurt and low sugar protein shakes — can provide additional energy and sustainability. Some carbohydrates can also offer a protein boost, but read labels first for the calorie count.


Eat up before and after hockey practice and games:

It’s important for kids to eat well on game days. The meal itself should not be very different from what they’ve eaten throughout training. Athletes can choose healthy foods they believe enhance their performance and don’t cause any problems like stomach upset. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. If you’re serving a meal three hours or more before a game, make sure it has plenty of complex carbs and a healthy amount of protein. These foods should be low in fat and balanced in fibre (not too high–too much fat and high fibre can take longer digest and slows down the body during aerobic activity. It can also cause stomach pains). Indulge in these particular foods after the game, as well as lots of water.
  1. If you are feeding your player less than three hours before game or practice, make the meal lighter, easy to digest and makes sure to add vegetables, fruit, sugar-lite juices, whole-grain crackers and bread.
  2. After the game or event, many sports nutrition experts suggest consuming fresh fruit, milk, protein or sports drinks, nuts or pretzels about 30 minutes after intense activity and every two hours. This will help rebuild muscle tissue on the go while replenishing energy and fluids until after activity has stopped. A post-game meal be a balance of lean protein, carbs, and fat.