HOCKEY NUTRITION: Nutrient timing helps maximise physical training benefits

Nutrient timing adds another layer of complexity to sports nutrition advice as it is concerned not just with WHAT is eaten, but WHEN it is eaten. The concept is that specifically and strategically manipulating nutrient intakes pre-, during, and post-exercise and performance can optimise the processes of muscle growth, fat burning/body composition and recovery of fuel stores.


There are several benefits of nutrient timing. These involve maximizing your body’s response to exercise and use of nutrients. The Nutrient Timing Principles (NTP) help you do the following:

  • Optimize fuel use so that you remain energized throughout your training
  • Ensure that you repair and strengthen your muscles to the best of your genetic potential
  • Ingest sufficient nutrients to keep you healthy and able to fight off infection, limiting the suppression of the immune system often experienced with intense training
  • Recover from your training so that you are ready for your next practice, event, or training session with well-fuelled muscles

About Nutrient Timing

Many of the metabolic responses to exercise and training reflect a balance between breakdown (catabolism) and growth/synthesis (anabolism). For instance, the fuel stores in muscle for exercise (mostly in the form of carbohydrate molecules known as glycogen) are, at any given point in time, determined by the breakdown/use during exercise and the recovery/synthesis as a result of a high carbohydrate (CHO) diet or carefully-planned recovery meals.

Similarly, the growth of muscle in response to training is now accepted as being determined by an individual’s ability to optimise training and nutrition strategies so that the processes affecting the growth of muscle (known as muscle protein synthesis) exceed the processes causing breakdown of muscle (known as muscle protein degradation) over a prolonged period of time.

In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that carefully choosing when and what is eaten in-and-around training sessions and competition can have a dramatic effect on the metabolic response to that session, recovery from that session and, perhaps most importantly, determine the nature of adaptation to training in terms of body composition.

Without going into too much theoretical depth about nutrient timing the tips below can guide you to the optimum times you need to eat and drink to perform your best, along with sample snacks and meals. Compare these tips to what you currently do with regards to your fitness training, hockey training, and hockey competitions.


Overall guidelines to nutrient timing

  • Consume a combination of carbohydrates and protein before and after workouts.
  • Consuming 20 to 30 grams of protein (pre- and post-workout) is effective for muscle protein resynthesis.
  • If the goal is to maintain or gain weight, consume a combination of carbohydrate and protein before and after workouts, with a 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio.
  • If the goal is to lose weight, also consume a combination of carbohydrate and protein before and after workouts, with a 1:1 or 2:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio.
  • Always hydrate before, during and after workouts.
  • Supplements provide convenience, but real food provides better overall nutrients.
  • Choose foods or supplements that work for you.
  • Allow enough time before a workout for food to settle.
  • The perfect ratio of nutrients is meaningless if you do not like the taste, cannot afford the product or experience gastrointestinal discomfort.

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