5 Surprisingly Excellent Holiday Foods for Hockey Players

November 16, 2016 , ,

For hockey players needing a performance oriented reason to enjoy holiday food I am giving you a holiday gift: my advice on how holiday foods can actually support a top athletic performance! I am encouraging you to look at holiday foods in a different light and to try some of the classic holiday foods for their performance boosting effects. Enjoy!

1. Stuffing (to carb-load)

Season Stuffing with Apples and Cranberries

Season Stuffing with Apples and Cranberries

A hockey player who has a camp or tournament over the holidays will benefit from the extra carbohydrate boost that would come from eating a few helpings of turkey stuffing. Classic recipes use bread crumbs or rice both of which can provide copious amounts of energy to a hockey player’s muscles. If you want to add a health twist to a stuffing recipe make the grain a whole grain for added fibre!

2. Mini candy canes (as a sports food)

mini candy cane

You must be wondering how candy could be on this list. Well 1 mini candy cane contains ⅓ the sugar you will find in 1 cup of sports drink. If a hockey player needs an energy boost in between periods or following a game to recover quickly then the small amount of sugar found in the candy cane could performance enhancing (actually even just a few licks of candy can have a performance effect! – true scientific fact). Essentially you could use a mini candy cane in place of a sports food. But you have to know that there are only certain situations where this food will be performance enhancing, the rest of the time it would be a dessert like any of the other holiday desserts.

3. Light egg nog (as a recovery drink)


See: Product Review: Harmony Organic Egg nog

In place of chocolate milk you could have a holiday recovery drink using light egg nog (2% M.F. or less). The protein and the sugar content are comparable to chocolate milk so you would be wise to add another protein source to this recovery snack such as peanuts, light cheese, or even a hard-boiled egg. The combination of protein, liquid, and simple sugar can speed up recovery of energy and repair of muscles after a hard game or practice so that you are more prepared for the next game or practice. See my eggnog product review.

4. Pumpkin pie (in place of other desserts)


Again a dessert makes my top 5 list! I choose to promote pumpkin pie during the holidays over desserts like sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, chocolates, and candies. Eating vegetables may be more fun in dessert form and pumpkin pie has a lot of pumpkin in it. Pumpkin is high in antioxidants and precursors to vitamin A. This makes eating pumpkin a great option for an athlete as athletes are thought to benefit from eating high amounts of antioxidants from fruit and vegetables. My advice is to find a recipe that is substantially lower in sugar than your typical recipe and one that uses milk instead of cream in the filling. Very yummm!

5. Roast Turkey (to build and maintain muscle mass)

Classic Roast Turkey with Stuffing

Classic Roast Turkey with Stuffing

Last on the top 5 list is a classic roast turkey. Eating turkey throughout the holidays is a super way to preserve lean body mass and reach satiety at a feast (so you don’t overeat)! One palm sized piece of Turkey will get your body the muscle building materials you want in a tasty, tradition-filled way. So dig in and enjoy what the holidays have to offer while you keep in mind some sports nutrition tips and tricks!

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Pearle Nerenberg
Pearle Nerenberg, MSc., R.D. is Canada's leading expert on hockey nutrition, and author of the book The Nutrition Edge for Hockey Performance. She co-founded and chairs the Hockey Nutrition Network, an international non-profit organization dedicated to linking hockey players with top sports dietitians who have an expertise in hockey nutrition.

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