Nutrition for hockey players, athletes, and people in general come by the dozens online.  It can be so confusing looking for advice and solid tips because everyone has their opinion.  Everyone out there is an “expert” because they might have read a book or two, liked the idea behind it, and suddenly that became the only way that someone, in their eyes, could get any real results from.

You have to be able to see what nutrition tips out there are right for you and your situation.

Are you a bodybuilder?  If not, then stop reading bodybuilding magazines because that’s not the advice YOU need.  You don’t need to be stingy with the carbs because you’re not going through a cutty phase getting ready for a competition.  And since this is a post about pre-game nutrition or off ice workout for hockey players, you also don’t need to be completely filling your face with everything in sight because you’re looking to pack on some mass.

You’re an athlete, so eat like one.

On game day, it’s important to make sure you’re doing a few things.  I’m trying to make this as simple as possible for people, because if I try to make it confusing, you won’t take anything away from this.  Keep things simple and you’ll be successful.

Here’s some pre-game nutrition tips for you:

1. Make sure your meal is plentiful in carbohydrates.

I once read from Dr. John Berardi, that we don’t eat protein, carbs, and fats….we eat food.  So instead of getting too scientific on you, I’ll briefly explain why you need carbs and then give you some suggestions.  Carbs are where you’re going to get your energy from and you need lots of energy for a game, especially high level players.  If you eat too much protein before a game, you’re going to have a bit of a problem.  Protein takes more oxygen to metabolize and digest, so you’re going to get tired faster. However, this doesn’t mean you go light on the protein all the time. Especially if building strength and muscle is a goal.

Here’s some suggestions:

– Whole wheat pasta with a little meat in the sauce

– A large salad with tons of greens and veggies, along with a chicken breast and some rice

2. Make sure to drink water.

Being properly hydrated could be one of the most important as well as the most overlooked tips in regards to nutrition for hockey players.  Drink a glass of water every hour or two from when you wake up all the way to about a half hour before the game.  Drinking a proper amount of water is going to help deliver nutrients to your working muscles in a more efficient way during the game.  Avoid drinking pop, especially on game day.  There’s absolutely no benefit from drinking soda.

3. Have your pre-game meal a minimum of 2-3 hours before the game.

Two hours before the game is cutting it pretty close.  So having a meal closer to game time than that, is a recipe for an upset stomach during the game.  Right around 3-4 hours prior to the game is ideal because you’re giving your food enough time to settle and start to digest.  The nutrients you consumed will also be readily available for you when you need them most.

4. Eat foods you like and know.

No sense in eating something you’ve never tried before.  Leave the experimenting for another day.  You don’t want to step on the ice and suddenly feel that all too familiar rumble.  Different people respond differently to different foods.  Make sure you stick with foods you’re comfortable eating and that your stomach can handle.

5. Avoid the stimulants.

I’m not here to beat up on anyone’s best buddy or anything but let’s get one thing out of the way.  Preworkout supplements with nitric oxide are grossly overhyped.  If anything they give you a bit of a temporary boost.  Apparently it’s supposed to feel like you’re ‘focused’ as many of the labels read, but I never really understood how feeling so jacked that you’re bouncing off the walls helps you focus.  If you’re going to have a stimulant before hand, one cup of coffee may be the only thing I’d suggest.  You don’t need anything more than that.

6. Sip a Gatorade just before game time.

Sports drinks get a bad rap from people because of the sugar content.  But you have to put those comments in context.  Sports drinks are not meant for lunch or dinner.  When they’re used in those cases, then they’re completely unnecessary.  The sugars in the sports drinks provide immediate energy because they are fast digesting.  Sip a Gatorade right before game time and you’ll be sure to have immediate energy stores ready for when you need them.