Eat like a hockey player, not a super model.

With the off-season knocking on the door for most of you, or maybe even pounding on the door for some of you I am getting ready to hit the most busy time in the Revolution Studio running.

I am anticipating the needs of the hockey players who will be training five days per week with me from May to thru mid-August and I know the top three things they will be looking for.

  1. Size
  2. Strength
  3. Speed

As I write this it occurs to me that each one should be a separate article – gotta put that on my ‘to do’ list.  Today we are going to deal with the size question as it relates to nutrition.

You see, some players do not need more size, what they need is more useable strength.  But many of the minor hockey and junior hockey players I train over the summer actually do need more size in order to compete more effective and with greater durability.

We always start with a three day nutrition recall and a few things stand out.

  1. They do not eat enough – PERIOD.
  2. When they do eat, they are often eating like a supermodel.

Let me explain what I mean with each.  In terms of getting sufficient calories (building blocks for growth) into the system, the players who fail to add muscle mass are failing to provide sufficient energy to their cause.

You need the building blocks….

If we were trying to build a sweet cottage where we could all hang out by the lake after our torturous off-ice workouts we would hire an awesome contractor to design just the perfect balance of function and durability – that is like the strength coach’s job, to create the blueprint for success.

Then we would need the raw materials and the commitment to do the work and follow the blueprint.  If we had everything we needed, but we failed to order enough building materials, no matter how hard we worked, doing exactly the right thing, we would never have a cottage.

Same goes for hockey players.  I cannot tell you how many players waste their time and effort in the gym by skipping breakfast.  They tell me it is because they are ‘not hungry’.  I am sure there are days when they don’t ‘feel’ like doing 4 sets of squats followed by 300-yard shuttle runs, but they do it because they know it will improve their performance on the ice.  Eating is exactly the same – you don’t do it because you feel like it, you do it because it is what must be done.

Stop eating like a supermodel…

Many of the players I train in the summer are boys who live at home with their parents and it just so happens that for many of them it is their Mom who prepares their meals – which is awesome.

However, (and this is not knock against Moms) many of the Moms are trying to stay fit and lean themselves, so they read articles on how to control body fat as they get a little older.  Then the Moms take a look at the Dads and think – yeah, he could stand to lose a few pounds as well.

As a result the entire family eats more like a super model than a hockey player trying to add mass.

When I have my players write down their three day nutrition recalls, I see a lot of fat free yogurt, salad dressing, milk, everything.   I see a lot of salad with one grilled chicken breast for supper.  I don’t see much in the way of more calorically dense carbohydrates like potatoes and pasta.

So my point is this – do not be afraid of calories, do not be afraid of fat (healthy fats) if you are expending the energy to warrant it.  I am not saying that you should go and eat a 2000 calorie meal at a fast food joint that is filled with poor quality ingredients, but don’t be shy to load up on good quality food.

Athletes need carbs and lots of them.  They also need good quality protein and a dose of healthy fat.  These are the building blocks for muscle growth and energy surplus that will fuel the demands of serious training.

Sample Meal Plan…

Breakfast: 3 Eggs + 2 Slices of Whole Wheat Toast + Jam + Glass of Orange Juice + ½ Protein Shake

Snack: Handful of Almonds + Apple + Cheese String

Lunch: Tuna Sandwich on Whole Wheat + Carrots + Hummus Dip + Carton of 2% Milk

Snack (post workout): Protein + Carbohydrate shake or Bagel with Peanut Butter + Bottle of Water or Sport Drink

Supper: 2-3 Grilled Chicken Breasts + Sweet Potatoes + Broccoli + Glass of 2% Milk + Fruit & Yogurt

That will hopefully give you some ideas of nutrition strategies for hockey players who have trouble gaining weight when they are training hard.  If you are a player who carries a little too much body fat, then this will have to be toned down for you until you get your bodyfat down to an acceptable range.

The final thing I should mention is that adding muscle mass is directly related to the player’s physical maturation.  If you have not yet hit puberty, then you simply will not have the circulating testosterone to trigger muscular development the way a player who has hit puberty will.

You will still get stronger with your training, but you will not pack on 14-17lbs of muscle mass during the off-season like some of your peers will.  There is nothing you can do about that – you just need to be patient.

I have trained with players who get jacked at 14 (they also have a full beard – ha ha) and then I have worked with players who have gained 6-8lbs of mass until they were 19 years old and then boom they made the leap and became monsters.  Be patient.

Nutrition resource for the whole family…

If you want a really in-depth nutrition guide (that works for the entire family) complete with recipes and thorough explanations of how important each nutrient is, then I cannot say enough about John Berardi’s Precision Nutrition.  The thing I love about John’s program is that there are no gimmicks whatsoever – he is not going to recommend that you go out and buy $400 worth of ab ripper 365 super supplement. 

He will tell you about supplements that he thinks are worthwhile, but he will also give you good whole food options that help you get the same nutrients.

I use the cookbook that comes with the Precision Nutrition program just because the recipes are good, tasty and quite easy to prepare.  If you are not sure about nutrition, then check it out and see if you think it might be right for you.  This is one of the products that I promote because I believe in it and I use it myself.  I do earn a commission if you purchase it through my link.  If you would rather not purchase through my link then you can go directly to and check it out that way.