In this article, I’m going to lay out some great breakfast ideas that hockey players can use to start fueling their workouts more efficiently and just overall feel better every day.
At this point, especially if you’re a long-time follower of the content here at Hockey Training, you know that in order to become lean, strong, and healthy you need to care very much about both the quantity and quality of your food intake.
But, improving your hockey performance isn’t just about what you eat and how much of it you ate…
But also when you eat.
Food quantity, quality, and timing all matter in the scope of creating the perfect hockey diet.
Nutrition works intensely with your training and on-ice activity to fuel you, allow you to recover, and ensure you get the maximum muscle building and fat loss effects from your efforts.
I have written about hockey specific nutrition extensively here, but I didn’t explore the idea of breakfast as I will in this article.
Let’s get into it.
Meet The Typical Hockey Athlete
A typical pattern of eating for busy hockey players is to skip breakfast in the morning because they are rushing off to work or school.
Or, if they are “lucky” enough to get breakfast in, it’s usually something skimpy like a bagel or muffin.
Then, by the time lunch rolls around they are completely starving so they will get some terrible food at the school cafeteria, or, go out for lunch and get some fast-food because they didn’t prepare anything for the day.
Once they stop feeling bloated from lunch they will have another very large meal that looks pretty similar to lunch but just in a different form.
And of course, a day wouldn’t be complete without late night snacking.
In contrast to this diet, the most successful athletes and long-term fit people consistently prioritize breakfast and ensure they make time for it every day.
Breakfast Research Digest
A study conducted by Dr. Holly R. Wyatt of the University of Colorado examined a group of formerly overweight subjects in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR).
The NWCR was created in 1994 to investigate what makes people successful at not just getting fit, but being able to stay fit.
And just to add, it is one of the largest ongoing studies of successful weight management of all time.
What’s very interesting here is that the NWCR found some fascinating characteristics among those who are able to maintain their fitness long-term.
As you might have already guessed it, eating breakfast is one of those characteristics. According to the data on long-term successfully fit individuals:
- 78% of them eat breakfast 7 days per week
- 90% of them eat breakfast most days of the week
- And only 3.9% of them never ate breakfast
Breakfast eaters also, in an independent analysis, came back with the highest scores of physical activity each day.
Even the researchers themselves reported that the results were “striking” in that breakfast was so statistically correlated to success in this data.
Although this research wasn’t done directly on hockey athletes, I think that the drawn correlations can be very obvious due to the nature behind weight management, physical fitness, long-term success, and daily physical activity levels.
Pre-Workout Carbohydrates Improve Performance
The research behind pre-workout carbohydrates is quite clear in that it will fuel the energy system specific demand of your hockey specific anaerobic and/or aerobic workout very efficiently.
Although this carbohydrate intake doesn’t fuel muscle growth, strength, and performance enhancement on the ice directly, it does so indirectly as a by-product of you being able to push more weight for more reps, run faster during your speed workouts, and push harder during your conditioning sessions (and thus, created a larger stimulus for adaptation and eventual progress).
Put simply, when you can train harder you will get better results.
Of very important note here, carbohydrates are the preferred fuel source of both the nervous system and the muscular system.
Getting more specific, glycogen is the preferred fuel source for your muscles – whereas blood glucose is the preferred fuel source for the nervous system.
This is extremely important to care about because a properly timed pre-workout meal containing carbs (but not only carbs) can not only help top off muscle glycogen stores but also provide additional blood glucose for the nervous system.
With this type of strategy in place, you are helping delay both systemic (nervous system) and local (muscle tissue) fatigue so that you can go both longer and harder in your workout sessions.
Neural fatigue can happen just as easily as muscular fatigue, and yet hockey players seem to forget that and don’t take blood glucose as a serious performance enhancement tool. It is.
So if you have ice time after breakfast, or if you like to lift weights after breakfast — you’d better be programming the appropriate amount of carbohydrates into your pre-workout meal.
There’s a real reason why there’s a mountain of research on carbohydrates for athletic performance and why it’s been used by athletes successfully for decades, don’t allow some out-of-context and incomplete research/statements steer you away from that.
Back To Breakfast
Although the research on pre-workout carbohydrates is very “direct” in its ability to boost your hockey performance, a lot of the research surrounding breakfast and weight management is correlational and not causative.
Correlation is very different than causation, so if we’re being intellectually honest we have to understand that not everybody who seeks weight management would “require” breakfast (even though it’s still a really good idea).
Here’s the thing though…
Just because breakfast might not be required for weight management, it doesn’t mean it’s not required for athletic performance. Especially if you are physically active in the morning.
I will be doing a future article or podcast (I haven’t decided yet) on why hockey players shouldn’t be doing intermittent fasting, so I will save my thoughts on that topic for a future date.
But just understand that when they claim you can “lose weight” with that approach, that in NO way shape or form means that it’s optimal for hockey performance.
Those are two completely different things.
And if the thought of being a morning person makes you grumpy, consider this.
Brian Tracy studied the most successful people that ever existed over several decades, and to quote him directly:
“I’ve never found a highly successful person who was a later riser”
To increase your odds of putting yourself amongst the highest achievers:
Get up early, review your goals, prepare your meals for the day, schedule when you’re going to train, and have a nutritious breakfast so you’re well fueled and mentally sharp for the day.
Hockey Breakfast Ideas
If you have really early morning hockey, I’d recommend you check out this article because I provide the quickest and easiest examples that are more relevant for someone who has hockey at 6AM or so.
But these options are more geared towards those who have time to get up, get something to eat, and then get to the rink or the gym in time without needing to rush the process.
Example Meal #1
- 2 whole eggs
- ¾ cup of egg whites
- ½ cup of oatmeal
Example Meal #2
- 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup of raw pecans
- 1 cup of blueberries
Example Meal #3
- 20g whey isolate
- ½ cup cottage cheese
- 2 tbsp. Natural peanut butter
- 1 tbsp. Ground flax
- 3 tbsp. Oats
- 1 cup of water
- 3 ice cubes
- Mix all together and blend until you reach a smooth texture
The above three example meals are all very easy-to-make options that are ideal first thing in the morning so that you can still cover all of your performance/recovery bases before your morning workouts.
For more information on hockey nutrition, be sure to check out the hockey nutrition guide here, and if you’re interested in becoming the best hockey player you can be and get access to all of the best information and programs here at HockeyTraining.com — make sure you check out the VIP Program today.