Our contributing fitness expert explains what you should—and should not—eat before taking to the ice
By Michael H. Manchess
Oatmeal. This is perhaps the favorite for pregame nutrition of the many hockey players we’ve surveyed. Have a double serving to ensure your body is properly fueled. Enjoy it with your favorite toppings, but avoid loading up with too much sugar. You don’t want a high that picks you up and drops you like a rock. Your body needs complex carbohydrates for sustained energy.
Peanut butter and banana on a rice cake. A combination of high-quality carbs and protein packs this mini-meal with a one-two energy punch that will keep you performing at peak levels when you need it the most.
Smoothie. A delicious smoothie can be made in a matter of minutes. All it takes is a countertop or immersion blender. Pick a favorite fruit—bananas, strawberries, peaches, blueberries—individually or in any combination. Add skim milk, or rice or almond milk and some ice and you’re good to go!
Protein powder. Add a few scoops of whey, soy or oats to water or a smoothie, and you’re off to a great start.
Energy bars. There are several types of nutrition bars on the market that provide a balance of protein, complex carbs and dietary fat that can substitute for a meal and provide you with the energy you need to play.
Pizza. Pretty much a bad choice of pregame nutrition. Avoid this if you can. The cheese, dough and tomato sauce will fill you up, but weigh you down and slow your performance.
Pasta. Contrary to popular belief, pasta is not what you need to eat before your game. The complex carbs and starch won’t give you the boost you’re looking for. Instead, your body will be consumed with digesting your meal rather than giving you the fuel you need to make it through a game.
Burgers, fries, etc. Stay away from stuff like this. They’ll only give you a bloated feeling and most likely indigestion. Not what you want to worry about in the heat of a hockey game.
Candy bars. No, no, no! Sure, the sugar rush will give you a surge of energy. But the short-lived high will quickly fade and leave you dragging.
Hot dogs, sausages, spicy foods, garlic or onions. They might be filling, but try to digest these while you race up and down the ice (or hold down the net). You’ll be belching throughout your hockey game, not to mention while on the bench. Save them for afterwards. Your teammates will thank you for it.
Michael H. Manchess offers athletes advice on proper conditioning and nutrition. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.