Top nutrition tips from Canada’s star NHL players
*This article was published March 2018
NHLPA members Erik Gudbranson (Vancouver Canucks), Zach Hyman (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Zack Smith (Ottawa Senators) talk about the importance of nutrition and staying healthy.
As professional hockey players who need to be at the top of their game throughout the NHL season, eating right and staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is essential. “I think eating with the approach of moderation is a big factor in feeling healthy,” noted Hyman, who has already reached career-high marks in goals and points this season.
Understanding the significance of eating healthy and drinking plenty of fluids has helped each player be in peak condition throughout their respective hockey careers, an approach they all agree should start at an early age. “I’ve learned over the past few years, especially when you get to the pros, that hydration is a big part of feeling energized and feeling good,” said Smith, an alternate captain for the Senators. “It’s very important for kids to know how to stay hydrated.”
For Gudbranson, Hyman and Smith, having a healthy approach to nutrition plays a big part in your performance in whatever sport you play. Here is what the players have to say about coming up with a winning nutrition game plan:
Choose healthy snacks
“I do my best to eat as many vegetables as I can,” said Hyman. “That’s the approach I take. I like avocado, carrots or broccoli with my meals. I also enjoy having an apple or banana with almond butter.”
“I always make sure I eat as many vegetables as I can,” offered Gudbranson. “I love carrots and broccoli — eating those raw. Those are definitely good for you.”
“I really enjoy having a healthy granola,” said Smith. “That’s the one consistent food I’ve had over the past three or four years.”
“To stay energized on game day, I drink water,” noted Hyman. “I’m a water guy, for sure. You definitely need to stay hydrated, including when you are playing.”
“I think the key for anyone who plays sports is to have a well-balanced meal on game day,” said Gudbranson. “I like mixing in coconut water on game day. That’s a big one for me. I’ll also have chicken, pasta and veggies on the day of a game.”
“I’ll have the granola, for sure,” offered Smith. “And water is obviously very important. That definitely starts the day before. A lot of the guys on my team drink coconut water or water leading up to the game.”
Eat a balanced diet
“Eat everything in moderation,” said Hyman. “That’s the most important thing and the most realistic. It’s about eating healthy and not overdoing it with just one particular thing.”
“Make your plate colourful!” said Gudbranson. “That’s the easiest way for me to explain it. If it looks a little dull, it’s probably dull. Just try and make your plate as colourful as possible and enjoy the experience.”
“Cooking at home is a big key for me,” offered Smith. “If you can do that with your parents, it’s a good thing because you know what ingredients are going into the meal. Obviously, you want to eat your fruits and vegetables, too. Fast food is fine once in a while, but it could be high in sugar or sodium — things like that. If you can, stick to your fruits, vegetables and proteins.”
Proper nutrition is important for everyone’s health and well-being. If you have questions about your health, you can talk to a parent/caregiver, teacher or other safe adult. You can also contact a Kids Help Phone counsellor 24/7 at 1-800-668-6868.
Kids Help Phone would like to thank Erik Gudbranson, Zach Hyman, Zack Smith, the NHLPA and Chris Lomon for this story during Nutrition Month 2018!
Get information about how your thoughts, feelings and behaviours are connected and what you can do to care for your well-being. Learning about mental health can help empower you with the language to communicate how you’re feeling.
Find resources by group
Practise with tools, tips and resources to help build your skills and improve your wellness in the way that feels best for you. Learn how to identify your strengths, communicate thoughts and feelings, overcome obstacles and connect with support.
Take a quiz
Find out how much you know about specific topics and get resources to learn more.
Play a game
Reduce stress and have fun at the same time.
Map out your support network
Identify who and where your community is to get help when you need it.
Share what’s on your mind
Try different tools to express how you’re feeling.
Make a safety plan
Access tools for safety planning and reporting.
Regain calm and relax with these activities.
Try a self-assessment
Identify how you’re feeling and find resources to support you right now.
Explore lived experiences from other young people across Canada. Learn from real-life youth stories, gain new ideas and ask questions to connect and inspire your own wellness journey.
If you need help right now, you can talk to a trained volunteer crisis responder about anything you're going through. No issue is too big or too small.
Connect with a professional counsellor to better understand what you're going through and help take a step in the direction you want to go.