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Carb-Loading - What's the Deal?

By Seanna Thomas, Nutrition Consultant, 12/20/22, 10:30AM EST


A quick and easy snack to boost player energy before a game

Let’s talk carbs. Do you know what they are?

Carbohydrates are anything that is fibre, sugar, or starch. We often think of carbs as bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes, but there is so much more! Grains, fruit, dairy, vegetables, legumes…so many foods contain carbohydrates.

Why do carbohydrates matter?

Carbohydrates are an essential form of energy for young athletes. Carbohydrates turn into sugar in your body, enter your bloodstream and transferred to cells to provide energy. Sugar is stored in your muscles and liver as glycogen, waiting to be utilized as energy. This is called ENERGY STORES and carbohydrate loading can help increase these stores so you have more energy to use.

This can be beneficial when you have a tournament or know you’ll be playing multiple games in a day, or over a weekend. Carb loading isn’t necessary for a single game or practice.

Many people think carb loading is eating a huge plate of pasta before a game. But there is more to it! Sometimes eating a big meal full of carbohydrates can actually make you feel heavy and groggy. We want you to feel energized!

The way to load up your energy stores is to start eating more carbohydrates 2-3 days before your tournament. If you can also decrease your activity level, this will help boost your energy stores so you have more energy on game day.

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So think about adding some more whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and starches as you get closer to your activity.

No matter if you’re carb loading for multiple games, or just looking to increase energy in general, carbs are your best friend!

Sweet potatoes are one of my favourite carbohydrate loaded foods. You can roast them, mash them, make fritters or hash browns…or you can try my Sweet Potato Muffins! They are easy to make, portable, and great as a snack an hour before a game.



  • 1 1/2 cups mashed sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Big pinch salt


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Peel, cook, and mash sweet potato in a large bowl.
  • Add oil, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Mix until well combined.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients to sweet potato mixture and stir until just combined.
  • Scoop into baking cups or greased muffin tin.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Makes 12 muffins. Enjoy!

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Seanna Thomas is a Nutrition Consultant, Mom to 3 active kids, and founder of Hockey Snacks Inc., where she provides nutrition information for young athletes, sports teams, families, and organizations. Seanna regularly appears on CP24 Breakfast, & is a contributor to Triathlon Magazine Canada, as well as multiple other publications. Seanna focuses on whole foods with a spotlight on creating realistic healthy habits. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and In her downtime, she enjoys being outdoors with her family and relaxing at home with her husband and a well-deserved glass of wine (and maybe watching a hockey game).

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