Think of the pre-game meal as a “top up” for your tank. The food you eat in the two days prior to competition gets stored in your muscle and becomes your main fuel for exercise. The food you eat right before exercise simply boosts your energy and keeps your blood sugar stable. An ideal pre-game meal will give you just enough to avoid getting hungry without upsetting your stomach before your game. Making the right choice can give you the competitive edge. Making the wrong choice can be debilitating.
The most common pre game meal for hockey players is chicken and pasta. Of course there are many great pre-game meal combinations but chicken and pasta is typically quick to prepare and easy to digest.
For quick digestion choose meals that are:
Ideally the pregame meal should be eaten 2-4 hours before your game or practice but as every hockey family knows, sometimes you don’t get much choice. You may be fitting in meals between school, work and other activities. Do your best to allow enough time to digest without too much time to get hungry again! Every person will be different. Experiment early in the season and find out the timing that works best for you.
Makes 4 servings
This recipe is my 13 year old’s favorite pre-game meal. Coupled with some roasted chicken, whole grain garlic bread and light ceasar salad, it’s the perfect mix of comfort food and fuel before a game.
2 cups 1-2% milk (Can also use almond milk)
2 Tbs of butter
2 Tbs of flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp garlic salt
2 Tbs light cream cheese cut into small pieces
½ cup fresh parmesan cheese, finely shredded
Sliced cooked chicken breast (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter over medium heat in a non-stick saucepan. Add flour and salt and stir while heating (approximately 2 minutes). Slowly whisk in milk and heat on medium until it begins to thicken. Turn down to simmer and whisk in the cream cheese until smooth. If you have an electric mixer or Braun hand mixer this will help to get it very smooth. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese and garlic salt. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately on al dente pasta with optional sliced chicken and salad or steamed broccoli.
Nutrition breakdown per serving of sauce: Cal: 175 kcal, Fat: 11g, Carb:10g, Pro:9g, Sodium:530g
Try to avoid breaded chicken breast like chicken fingers or deep fried chicken parmesan as they are higher in fat and slow to digest. Also watch out for restaurant prepared fettucini alfredo which is often made with cream.
Chicken and pasta gets pretty boring if you have 2-3 games per week!
Heidi Smith is a Sport Dietitian and Head of Nutrition at the Health and Performance Centre at the University of Guelph. She has worked alongside some of the worlds top hockey players including NHL, National, Olympic, Junior, and Rep. She is the author of the practical sport nutrition handbook entitled "Nutrition for the Long Run". Heidi is also a mother of 3 rep hockey players and understands the demands faced by todays sport focused families.