April 6, 2014

Hockey nutrition: 10 tips to keep you sharp

By Julie Nicoletti

Dear hockey players,

As I write this letter, you’re in the midst of your season, but by the time you read it, many of you will have played your last game.

Things are different in the offseason: Your training changes, your schedule changes and the demands you put on your body change. Your nutrition might also change, so this month’s article focuses on some food for thought.

1. Water: Not drinking enough water causes dehydration, which can lead to muscle cramps, headaches, nausea, soreness, joint pain, fatigue, decreased speed and contractile strength, increased recovery time, increased risk of injury, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death.

2. Sugar: Consuming too much sugar — the average American consumes over 100 pounds of sugar per year! — wreaks havoc with your energy levels and hormones. Sugar offers no nutritional value and therefore is an ingredient to avoid as often as possible.

3. Alcohol: Alcohol is a metabolic poison that negatively affects all systems of the human body simultaneously.

Binge drinking results in projected losses of up to 14 days of training effect.

4. Tobacco: Athletes depend on breath and their wind to deliver oxygen to the brain and working muscles. Smoking cripples your lungs and greatly inhibits your performance, along with increasing cancer risk, discoloring your teeth, changing your voice and thickening your skin. Chewing tobacco is also addictive, causes gum disease, discolors your teeth, causes bad breath and contributes to increasing the risk of cancer of the throat, gums, tongue, lips and cheek.

5. Drugs: Recreational or performance-enhancing drugs can be tempting to high school and college athletes, yet they are poisonous to your brain and body and can take away all that you’ve worked for in an instant. There are plenty of instances where athletes have insisted that they weren’t aware that what they took was against regulations. It is your responsibility to be educated, to limit your risks and to safeguard your body.

6. Sleep: Too little sleep makes it harder to concentrate, learn and make decisions. It increases irritability and performance. Drowsy driving can have deadly effects.

7. Excessive calorie restriction: An athlete demands so much of his or her body. Calories provide the energy necessary to play and perform. It all boils down to good choices and quality calories.

8. Poor food choices: Eating processed food, junk food and fast food introduces toxins into our bodies and causes sickness, nausea, deteriorating health, unstable energy levels and a poor body composition ratio (lean mass: body fat). Poor food choices also lead to deficiencies of the vitamins and minerals necessary to keep your body healthy and able to perform well.

9. Soda: Caffeinated or not, sugar or not, colored or not, calories or not … doesn’t matter. Soda contains phosphorus, which can leech calcium out of your bones. The less calcium, the more brittle your bones, the greater the risk of injury. Drink more water and less of everything else.

10. Negativity: Whether it is selfdoubt or negative thoughts about a teammate or opponent, your coach’s philosophy, a referee, playing position, team standings, playing conditions or the weather, being negative won’t bring about positive change. Negativity is a waste of energy that could otherwise be used for a game-winning score.

So, please, drink plenty of water, eat well, get a good night’s rest, train hard and #FueltheChampionWithin. 

Julie Nicoletti is a nationally recognized sports nutritionist who specializes in coaching student and professional athletes to optimize performance and minimize the risk of injury through nutrition. As the founder of Kinetic Fuel Performance Based Nutrition, Julie combines her professional training as a registered pharmacist with her experience as a certified sports nutritionist to customize plans for athletes and teams enabling them to see transformative results.  Learn more at www.kineticfuel.net.

Twitter: @kineticfuel1

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