Have you ever been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day?
Well, this might not be necessarily true for everyone - for hockey players, it is.
Breakfast is the first meal of the day, where you literally “break fast” from the night before; and while timing doesn't necessarily have to be immediately upon waking - athletes should make it a priority in the morning.
Breakfast will kick starts your metabolism (body’s energy generation) for the day. As an elite hockey player, skipping breakfast means that your body is essentially forced to run on empty and will be unable to restore its glucose and energy levels that will allow you to perform later in the day. With so many hockey players' schedule being jam packed & we recommend all of our players to eat a good sized wholefood breakfast shortly after waking up to ensure they’re meeting the high energy demands of their day.
Now let’s talk about your morning routine.
While we’re stressing the importance of a good healthy breakfast in the morning, there’s one habit that’s even more valuable than breakfast - and that’s rehydrating. The hours you spend sleeping end up being a long period of time to go without any water consumption and rehydration is key. Drinking water first thing in the morning has been shown to increase your level of alertness, help fuel your brain, help eliminate toxins in your body, and jump-starts your metabolism. Water is essential for life and involved in every bodily function.
With those benefits in mind, and the importance of hydration on your performance later in the day, we recommend that players kick start their day with hydration by consuming at least 500ml in the first hour of their day. We typically recommend players take a glass of water to bed so that they have something to drink immediately in the AM.
Now that you’ve started to rehydrate, you need to fuel your body for the day and decide what to break your fast with. In this article we are going to discuss two breakfast meal options; one based on a later practice or game and the other based on a morning or earlier game.
Breakfast Ideas for Game/Practice Later In the Day
If you’re not in a tournament or have a classic early morning game then your meal can consist of higher fats and protein with moderate levels of carbohydrates. A higher fat and protein meal will keep you feeling fuller for longer and avoid unwanted insulin spikes which will affect glucose levels and inevitably energy levels.
Below are some examples of healthy breakfast options for days with late afternoon or evening games:
¾ Cup Egg Whites (leftover for topping)
2 Slices Little Big Bread
1 ½ Tbsp ED Smith Maple Syrup
½ Tbsp Almond Butter
Cinnamon to taste
⅓ Cup Onions
1 Cup Mushrooms
2 Cups Spinach
1 Cup Broccoli
½ Cup Egg Whites
½ Bell Pepper
Egg Breakfast Sandwich:
Breakfast Ideas for Morning Practice/Games
On days that you have a practice or game earlier in the day, it’s recommended to have a higher carbohydrate meal with moderate amount of protein and lower fat.
This is because your body will need the higher level carb intake to ensure you have the immediate energy needed fuel your early morning performance.
With early hockey in mind, here are some breakfast ideas to consider:
¾ Cup Plain Icelandic Yogurt
1 Cup Rice Krispies Cereal
1 Tbsp Powdered Peanut Butter
Cinnamon to Taste
Granola + Ultrafiltered Skim Milk:
PB + Jam Sandwich:
Protein Overnight Oats:
The bottom line is, food is fuel! And that means that If you’re serious about your performance - then you need to be serious about how you’re fueling you body.
Starting your day off right with a breakfast that can fuel your morning hockey or prepare you for high performance later day is what will allow you to maximize your performance & make sure you’re performing your best when it counts!
Victoria Rose is Exercise Physiologist with expertise specializing in Sports Nutrition.
As a former elite level athlete, who earned her Kinesiology degree at the University of Guelph & Post-Grad Specialization in Health & Performance at Niagara College, she now works with athletes to optimize their nutrition for peak performance and health.
Along with writing nutrition articles for hockey players at Relentless Hockey, she also puts out valuable fitness & nutrition content on her Instagram @VictoriaRoseFitness and can be reached there.