Nutrition in ice hockey: what ice hockey players should be aware of
Ice hockey is a fascinating sport: fast-paced, physical and in some cases highly dramatic. Although the regular match time is usually three times 20 minutes with breaks of 15 minutes, the effective play time is much longer. Depending on the interruptions during the game, the five field players and the goalie can spend up to two and a half hours on ice. It is obvious that a competition of over two hours requires a targeted and carefully balanced nutritional strategy if an athlete is to fully exploit his performance potential on the ice. We explain in the following what ice hockey players nutrition-wise need to consider before, during and after the competition and make recommendations for product selection from the SPONSER range.
Filling glycogen stores
Full energy reservoirs are the be-all and end-all in a sport with long performing times such as ice hockey. Studies confirm that glycogen supercompensation (carboloading) with a concentrated, carbohydrate-containing drink provides a considerable energy advantage on the day before the competition. Suitable products:
• CARBO LOADER: High energy sports drink for replenishing glycogen stores, contains Vitargo®, a barley starch hydrolysate specially developed for this purpose.
• LIQUID ENERGY GELS: Those who prefer it quick and comfortable can take carbohydrates directly from the tube with these gels. They deliver easily tolerable energy, which is available within a few minutes after ingestion.
• HIGH ENERGY BAR: Competition bars for long-lasting energy. Ideal up to one hour before use.
Increased lactate tolerance
The relatively short, but high-intensity blocks, with sprints and hardly any breathers, as they occur again and again in ice hockey, result in high lactate accumulation. Beta-alanine and soda loading (sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate) in advance increase the extracellular buffer capacity, which in turn delays the muscle acidosis and fatigue. Athletes benefit also from creatine supplementation, especially when it comes to speed and interval performance - two factors that play a central role in ice hockey. Suitable products:
• LACTAT BUFFER: For professional soda loading during 4-5 days before important games.
• BETA ALANINE: In contrast to soda loading, it does not increase the extracellular but the intracellular buffer capacity and thus ideally complements the LACTATE BUFFER. Loading is necessary for approx. 8 weeks and should be paused after approx. 12 weeks for several weeks.
• CREATINE MONOHYDRATE: Loading phase during 1-2 weeks, but can also be used throughout the entire season. For even better absorption, a combination with CREATINE PYRUMAX is also possible.
DURING THE GAME
Ensure regular liquid supply
Despite the obviously cool temperatures on the ice field, the loss of liquid is significantly higher than one would expect, due to high-intensity performance and the hindered thermoregulation by full-body clothing and protection gear. For this reason, professional athletes make sure to drink 0.5 to 1 litres of an energy- and electrolyte-containing sports drink per hour during a match. Suitable products:
• ISOTONIC: The classic sports drink with 5 fruity flavours.
• COMPETITION: The less sweet, less intensively flavoured and acid-free alternative and therefore the first choice in elite sports.
Avoiding blood sugar fluctuations and muscle cramps
In competitive sports, energy supply plays a central role because the body's fuel stores are not sufficient for a duration of more than approx. 90 to 120 minutes. LIQUID ENERGY Gels can therefore also be used in addition to carbohydrate-electrolytes drinks. They provide fast energy, can be taken easily and do not strain the digestion. Players with high sweat losses and/or cramp tendency may benefit from our MUSCLE RELAX Shot. Suitable products:
• LIQUID ENERGY GELS: Best tolerated liquid energy concentrate from quick and slow available carbohydrates. The energy kick par excellence! With or without caffeine.
• MUSCLE RELAX: 30 ml bottles of cucumber juice and vinegar. At first signs or acute muscle cramps, rinse your mouth briefly with it and drink afterwards.
Keeping coordination and concentration high
Reaction time, attention, coordination, concentration and a high focus are elementary performance components in a technical and fast discipline like ice hockey. Suitable products for increased cognitive performance and delayed fatigue:
• ACTIVATOR: Ready-to-drink flask with 200 mg caffeine from guarana, mate and green tea. Ideal from the second third or to manage mental fatigue. To be taken approx. 30-60 min before the desired time of effect. Take in two portions depending on tolerance.
• MENTAL FOCUS: Caffeine-free formulation with green tea active ingredients and Rhodiola Rosea. Promotes focusing without increasing anxiety.
Ensure fast recovery
«After the match is before the match» is a bon mot in ice hockey. It is therefore crucial to take care of regeneration immediately after a match. A high-quality regeneration supplement supplies the body with fluid and electrolytes, fills the glycogen stores and repairs endured muscle damage. Suitable products:
• RECOVERY DRINK: Fruity regeneration drink, lactose-free. Preparation with water.
• PRO RECOVERY: Efficient, highly professional protein-based regeneration product to balance muscle stress. Lactose-free and without artificial sweeteners. Preparation with water.
• NITROFLOW PERFORMANCE2: The professional tip! Its vasodilatory effect enables better nutrient supply and reduction of metabolic end products (e.g. lactate). Ideal for supporting regeneration.
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Author: Remo Jutzeler
Head R&D SPONSER SPORT FOOD
Ing. Applied Food Sciences UAS
MAS Nutrition & Health ETHZ