Today I have another sports nutrition tip from my friend Brian St. Pierre, who wrote the Nutrition Guide for my new program Ultimate Hockey Transformation.

I like this tip for one reason: It’s incredibly simple to implement.

Almost every question I get about nutrition sounds something like “Is ‘x’ good?”

If you just follow the three simple rules Brian outlines below, you’ll be eating “power foods” packed with nutrients the overwhelming majority of the time. Enjoy!

Tip #8 – Eat Mostly Minimally Processed Whole Food

One of the best things you can do for your health is to improve the quality of your food intake. If you’ve been following along with these tips, you’ve learned the value of getting appropriate amounts of proteins, veggies, carbs, and fats at meals.

And those are really important tips. But once you have that down, its time to refine the sources of each of those groups. That’s where today’s tip comes in.

Minimally processed whole foods are foods that:

  1. You can hunt, fish, pluck, grow or ferment,
  2. Can be easily made from foods you could hunt or gather, and
  3. Have always been food.

This means foods like meats, fish and seafood, any and all fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and oils, whole grains, starchy tubers (like potatoes and sweet potatoes), and beans and legumes.

Hockey Nutrition: Meat and Vegetables

This has ALWAYS been food

That means that you should minimize the highly processed foods that are so rampant today – sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks (except for during intense activity), crackers, cookies, pastries, cakes, and donuts, fast food, and other concoctions of the modern food industry.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should never eat these things. What would life be without some ice cream or the occasional root beer? But, it means that you consume foods like that in moderation – they should not make up a big part of what you eat.

And that you should eat mostly minimally processed whole foods. There are several compelling reasons for this.

Missing Nutrients

The first reason is because these highly processed foods are missing tons of beneficial nutrients that are inherent to whole foods. As part of their processing, they are stripped of things like protein, fiber, some vitamins and minerals, water, as well as phyto- and zoo-chemicals

Whole foods naturally contain all of these nutrients in abundance. This means that whole foods give you more of the things you need to help you look, feel, and perform your best. And those highly processed foods just fall short.

Hyper-rewarding and hyper-palatable

In addition, highly processed foods are actually specifically engineered by food companies to overpower your brain, causing you to eat more calories than you need and eventually gain body fat, feel crummy, and perform poorly.

This is the other main reason that eating mostly whole, minimally processed foods is so powerful. When you eat these whole foods your brain is able to signal to you that you have eaten enough.

However, when you eat highly processed foods, they tend to be what are called hyper-palatable and hyper-rewarding. In essence, what happens when you eat these foods is that your brain becomes over-excited, and it can’t “hear” the signals telling it how much food you have eaten. This delays the signal telling you that you’ve eaten enough, and don’t need any more food. In the end, you eat more calories than you need almost every time, which will eventually catch up to you.

Dairy Queen Blizzard

Guilty.

Plus, processed foods can even simulate an addiction in your brain, much like drugs. Causing you to seek out these foods and over-eat them. The only way to break this is to consciously try to eat mostly whole, minimally processed foods, which don’t cause these problems.

The bottom line is you should aim to eat 80-90% of your food from whole, minimally processed sources. It’s totally ok, and even a little helpful, to have some processed foods, just be reasonable about it.

-Brian St. Pierre, MS, RD, CSCS, CISSN, PN1

P.S. For more information on how to get a copy of Brian’s incredible hockey nutrition manual, click here: Ultimate Hockey Transformation

Brian is a Registered Dietitian and received his Bachelor’s in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Maine, where he also received his Master’s in Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is a Certified Sports Nutritionist as well as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

Brian worked for three years at Cressey Performance as the head Sports Nutritionist and as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, working with hundreds of athletes and recreational exercisers of all types. During this time, he also authored the High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide, Show and Go Nutrition Guide, Ultimate Hockey Nutrition and dozens of articles for publication.

Nowadays, he works closely with Dr. John Berardi as a full-time coach and a nutrition educator at Precision Nutrition. In particular, working closely with our elite athletes and fitness professionals. As part of the Precision Nutrition mission, he helps to deliver life-changing, research-driven nutrition coaching for everyone.

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“Kevin Neeld is one of the top 5-6 strength and conditioning coaches in the ice hockey world.”
– Mike Boyle, Head S&C Coach, US Women’s Olympic Team

“…if you want to be the best, Kevin is the one you have to train with”
– Brijesh Patel, Head S&C Coach, Quinnipiac University

More great nutrition tips from Brian St. Pierre.

If you missed it, check out Hockey Nutrition Tips: Part 1

Nutrition Tip #4

Eat Protein at Every Meal or Snack
Protein is the most satiating of all the macronutrients, meaning it will keep that hunger away longer than carbohydrates or fat. Protein also has the highest Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF), meaning it requires more energy to digest protein than any other macronutrient. It is also the least likely nutrient to be stored as fat. Consuming an adequate amount of protein every day (~1g/lb of bodyweight) will maintain lean mass and help create new muscle tissue.

Key Tips:
•    Women should consume approximately 15-30 grams at every meal/snack.
•    Men should consume approximately 30-50 grams at every meal/snack.
•    Get most of your protein from real whole food. No more than 40 grams of powder.

Nutrition Tip #5

Drink 0-Calorie Beverages
The body doesn’t recognize liquid calories as energy intake, and therefore will not downregulate intake for the remainder of the day. Drinking calories is an easy way to overconsume and gain weight, so sticking to non-caloric beverages will help prevent unwanted weight gain.

Key Tips:
•    Best non-calorie choices are water, tea (white, green, oolong, black, rooibos, yerba mate), and black coffee.
•    Some fruit juice is ok in moderation, but only pure juice, no added sugar.

Nutrition Tip #6

Drink Your Calories
This goes completely counter to Tip #5, but if you are purposefully trying to gain weight, drinking calories is an easy way to sneak in extra calories without actually having to eat and chew much more food. Blending up real food is my favorite option. These smoothies can be all the difference in gaining that much wanted muscle.

Key Tips:
•    Blend real food such as cottage cheese, fruit, nuts and some protein powder.
•    Experiment, have fun with it, and enjoy the results.

Nutrition Tip #7

Choose Full-Fat Versions
When trying to gain weight I see far too many people eating fat-free cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and skim milk. These are inferior choices to the full-fat versions for caloric intake, and they are not inherently less healthy. In all actuality they actually contain more nutrients (like vitamin A) and the fat helps the absorption of these nutrients.

Key Tips:
•    Choose whole milk, 4% fat cottage cheese, and whole fat Greek yogurt when appropriate.
•    Eat plenty of nuts, extra virgin olive oil, and fish oil to balance the increase in saturated fat intake (which isn’t a bad thing!)

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Whenever I have a question about nutrition or supplements, I always call the same person. My friend Brian St. Pierre is the Nutrition Consultant and a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA. He’s truly one of the brightest young minds in sports nutrition today and really “gets it” in terms of being familiar with the research AND knowing how to implement strategies to help his athletes succeed.

A while back, Brian sent me some AWESOME nutrition tips that I wanted to share with you. The first three tips are below. Check back throughout the rest of the week for more great hockey nutrition information.

Nutrition Tip #1

Eat Real Food!
It may seem trivial or vague, but if you sat back and really took stock of the food in your home, you would probably be shocked to realize just how much of it qualifies as a food product, not actual food. Increasing the amount of real food, defined below, and decreasing the amount of food products you consume is the easiest thing you can do to improve your nutrition and health. It doesn’t require counting calories, worrying about nutrient timing, calculating macronutrient percentages, or any of that, and it will have a far greater impact on your health.

Real Food Conditions:
•    If you couldn’t hunt, fish, pluck, grow, or ferment/culture the food, you probably shouldn’t eat it.
•    If it wasn’t food 100 years ago, it probably isn’t food today.
•    If it comes in a box or a plastic wrapper, it probably isn’t food, it is a food product.
•    If it contains lots of industrial vegetable oil (canola, cottonseed, soybean, safflower, sunflower, etc) and/or added sugar/high fructose corn syrup, it probably isn’t food, it is a food product.

Nutrition Tip #2

Eat Food as Close to its Natural State as Possible.
Eating food that has been produced in a sustainable, animal, plant and environmentally friendly manner will not only have a profound impact on your health, but the health of your food and the health of the planet. Choosing food from local, seasonal and sustainably grown sources, like farmer’s markets, ensures that you know exactly where your food is coming from, who is producing that food, and exactly how it is produced.

Natural State Conditions:
•    Eat meat, eggs and dairy from pastured/grass-fed animals.
•    Eat full fat versions of these foods for the greatest profile and absorption of nutrients.
•    Eat produce from local, seasonal, and sustainably grown sources.

Nutrition Tip #3

Eat Vegetable and/or Fruits at Every Meal or Snack
This is the easiest way to meet your minimum of 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day. I would go so far as to say the minimum should be 7-10 servings. Maximize your health to maximize your performance. You will drastically increase the amounts of powerful phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber to optimize your nutrition.

Key Tips:
•    You don’t need a side salad with every meal. 1 serving will do just fine.
•    9 baby carrots, 2 celery sticks, and small pieces of fruit are all equivalent to one serving.

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