Kevin Neeld — Hockey Training, Sports Performance, & Sports Science

Hockey Nutrition: What to eat?

In a couple hours, I’m catching a flight to San Jose to go help Mike Potenza out with the Sharks camp. I had a great experience and learned a lot working with Potenza at the Sharks prospect camp last Summer, so I’m really looking forward to heading back out this year. I don’t have the best track record with flights over the last year:

  1. Last year I arrived at the San Jose airport at 4am for my 6am flight back, fell asleep, and woke up at 615am. No one thought to poke me, the first person in the terminal, to let me know the flight at the gate I had been at for 2 hours was leaving.
  2. The trip before that (the week before to be exact), I was stuck in the Philadelphia airport for about 8 hours before they cancelled the flight at 1am (I lived in Baltimore at the time, so this was pretty inconvenient, especially for a 4 day trip to Denver for 4th of July!).
  3. A couple weeks back, my flight from Philly was delayed a couple hours because of rain so I missed my connection in Atlanta and was a day late getting out to the US Women’s Camp in Minnesota.
  4. And most recently, my flight to Portland, ME to attend a Postural Restoration Course with Eric Cressey was cancelled because of rain so I missed the seminar altogether.

Needless to say, I’m hoping for a smoother trip this go around! On Monday, I laid out an example eating schedule for college hockey players. If you missed it, you can check it out here: Hockey Nutrition: In-Season Eating

About a year ago, after realizing that the athletes coming through our doors were completely clueless about what they should be eating (especially before and after they trained), I put together a “Training Nutrition Guidelines” sheet for all of our athletes. You can grab a copy of it at the link below:

Get your copy here >> Training Nutrition Guidelines

At the bottom of that sheet, there is a list of quality food choices broken down into macronutrient categories: Lean Protein, Vegetable, Complex Carbohydrate. This gives the kids a “plug and eat” menu for their pre- and post-training meals AND a better idea of what foods they should be eating anyway. A list of healthy fats isn’t included on this sheet because of the pre- and post-training nature of the meals. Coming back to Monday’s eating schedule, meal composition can be broken down as:

  1. Breakfast: 1-2 Hours Pre-Training Meal from sheet with option to swap fruit for vegetable
  2. Lunch: 1-2 Hours Pre-Training Meal from sheet
  3. Pre-Practice/Training Meal: 30-Minute Pre-Training Meal from sheet
  4. Post-Practice/Training Meal: Immediately Post-Training Meal from sheet
  5. Dinner: 1-Hour Post-Training Meal from Sheet
  6. Snack: Lean Protein, Vegetable, and Quality Fat meal

The above works for a player that was interested in maintaining their current body composition and/or increase body weight. Players with the goal of increasing mass would just need to eat more at each meal, especially earlier in the day and immediately after their practice/training.

For a player that was interested in losing body fat, I’d make a few small adjustments:

  1. Breakfast: 1-2 Hours Pre-Training Meal from sheet with option to swap fruit for vegetable
  2. Lunch: Lean Protein, Vegetable, and Quality Fat meal
  3. Pre-Practice/Training Meal: 30-Minute Pre-Training Meal from sheet
  4. Post-Practice/Training Meal: Immediately Post-Training Meal from sheet
  5. Dinner: Lean Protein, Vegetable, and Quality Fat meal
  6. Snack: Lean Protein, Vegetable, and Quality Fat meal

The only difference is that we’ve replaced carbohydrates with quality fats in two of the meals. The goal is not to ELIMINATE carbs, which they need to provide energy and facilitate recovery, only to funnel those carbs more into breakfast and during pre- and post-workout times. Using Generation UCAN will have a favorable impact on body fat, as it’s been shown to have a more time-release energy effect and avoids the blunted fat burning consequence of blood sugar and insulin spikes.

Take Home
Hopefully you can appreciate the relative simplicity in this approach. The two college players that I had the meeting with were given these guidelines at the beginning of the Summer, one more geared toward gaining weight (building muscle), the other geared toward losing fat. At the end of the Summer, the first player had put on nearly 20lbs (and was completely shredded, EASILY below 8% body fat), the second had lost 15lbs and went from 12% to <7% body fat (we measured). Not a bad transformation for a single off-season. Because it’s easier to maintain any level of body composition than it is to achieve it, these players will have a little more room to err in their habits during the beginning of the year as they re-establish a daily routine conducive to their needs without completely falling off the wagon (or is it on the wagon?).

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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Kevin Neeld

Kevin Neeld Knows Hockey

Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.