Gameday Nutrition

Nutrition is extremely important, if not the most important piece of the physical performance puzzle. Nutrition is responsible for:

  1. Providing the macro and micronutrients the body needs to live.
  2. Providing the body with fuel to perform on the ice.
  3. Recovery from the stressors placed on body through training, practices and games. It is extremely important for athletes to stay on top of their nutrition and recovery strategies in order to stay healthy and perform at a high level. The quantity and quality of the food that you eat is paramount every single day, especially on game day.

When it comes to gameday nutrition, the goals are rather simple.

  1. Do what you’ve practiced
  2. Supply the body with energy
  3. Avoid foods that make you uncomfortable

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”– Ben Franklin. As an athlete, you should practice your gameday routine prior to gameday. You do not want to try something new on the day of a game or competition. You should be comfortable and confident with your gameday nutrition when you go to bed the night before.

The quality and quantity of the fuel you choose to provide your body will have a direct impact on how you perform that day. Here are some simple tips to utilize on gameday:

  • Choose easily digested foods.
  • Keep meals small
  • Make sure your gameday meals include protein, fats and QUALITY carbohydrates Make sure the foods you eat are familiar

Nutrition is highly individual and will require a degree of trial and error. Choose foods you know and trust that leave you feeling alert and energized. Foods that aggravate your stomach or leave you feeling bloated or sluggish should be avoided, especially on gameday.

It is important to emphasize a good source of protein and healthy fats at every meal (especially breakfast). Protein and fat have been shown to stimulate the release of neurotransmitters dopamine and acetyl-choline. These neurotransmitters will elevate brain activity and improve attention span, memory and motivation. Don’t believe me? Have a turkey burger and a handful of almonds for breakfast and let me know how you feel the rest of the day!

Here is an example of what gameday nutrition could look like:

Pregame meal (3+ hours before game time)

  • 1 Chicken Breast (palm size)
  • Broccoli (1 fist)
  • Brown Rice (1 cupped handful)
  • Almonds (1 thumb)
  • Water (1-2 cups)

60 minutes prior to game

  • 1-2 cups water

15 minutes prior to game

  • Electrolytes (sodium & potassium)
  • 1-2 cups water

Protein shake containing

  • 30-45g carbohydrates
  • 15-25g protein powder
  • Electrolytes (sodium & potassium)
  • 2.5 cups of water
    • Another shake can be used if you have more than one game in the same day

Athletes pour their heart and soul into their preparation. They show up early to practice, work their butt off to execute the schemes and sets their coaches ask of them and often spend additional time studying the playbook and communicating with coaches and teammates. All of this hard work can be undone if your gameday nutrition is not carefully planned and executed. Think of yourself as a racecar and the food as the fuel. You need to make sure you get enough high-quality food in order to keep your engine running throughout the entire game. The most important thing to remember is that you do not want to leave things up to chance. The same way you practice a wrist shot, a step back jumper, a backdoor slider or a slant route, your nutrition routine must be rehearsed and refined. Make sure your gameday nutrition routine works for YOU. Do that and you will feel alert, focused and energized until the final buzzer sounds.