When hockey players are looking to lean down (lose unwanted fat) I think it’s important to take a look at the following 3 topics…
I recommend reading this article in order, but we’ve broken down into three sections if you want to skip ahead or come back to reference this article:
- Why Hockey Players Need To Be Lean
- Top 4 Reasons You Aren’t Losing Weight
- How Hockey Players Can Lean Down
Why Hockey Players Need To Be Lean
Fat loss in modern times is almost always associated exclusively with appearance. At any point in time you could look through magazines, books, social media, and TV infomercials to see that. This is no surprise though; a lean and athletic looking body is what everyone wants.
It helps you look better in and out of clothes…but that doesn’t matter so much for you right, hockey player?
Fat loss and maintaining a lean body will have immense benefits towards your health in the long-term and your performance out on the ice.
It is my goal with this section to outline 5 reasons why hockey players need to be lean if they are interested in receiving the multitude of health and performance benefits that such a plan can provide.
Reason #1: Better Hockey Performance
A couple of the most important criteria for what can improve your performance out on the ice are how fast you can run and how explosive you can jump. This is why informed coaches in the NHL, semi-pro, and junior leagues test their athletes utilizing various forms of jump and sprint tests.
Effective fat loss programs are one of the quickest and most simple ways to improve both simultaneously – when you train and eat for fat loss, you will immediately be able to run faster and jump higher, and thus, skate faster and become more explosive out on the ice.
How does fat loss do this?
Imagine you put a backpack on that was filled with 20 pounds of rocks and then sprinted 40-yards as fast as you could. Then you removed the rocks and ran the 40-yard sprint again. Do you think you would run faster without the backpack of rocks?
Of course you would. You would also jump a heck of a lot higher as well.
That imaginary backpack represents the real-life performance limitations of carrying around an extra 10, 20, or even more pounds of weight on your body. In other words, if you lose that extra 10 or 20 pounds – you can compare it to taking the backpack of rocks off.
When you get leaner, you automatically become more athletic because your movement skills have enhanced in both proficiency and efficiency. Getting lean is in many cases the next step most people need to take in order to take their hockey performance to the next level.
Reason #2: Improved Strength
Hockey players need the muscle with the hustle!
Getting lean covers the hustle by improving your speed and jumping power. But, most people under respect what it can do for the muscle with respect to the way in which you express your strength out on the ice.
Arguably the most important aspect of strength that you are able to express in athletic environments is ensuring you have a high level of what’s known as relative strength. Meaning, how strong you are in relation to your own body weight.
For example, the person who can perform the most chin-ups possesses superior levels of relative strength because he can lift his own body weight for more reps than others can – even if they have a higher absolute strength than he does.
When performing strength training exercises such as chin ups, push ups, lunges, split squats, and step-ups – you’re not only lifting the weight, you’re lifting your body as well.
The more extra body fat you’re carrying, the weaker you’ll feel and the less work you’ll be able to complete within a given training session or training week.
Traveling back to the weighted backpack example – try doing lunges and pull-ups with that backpack on. You will do MUCH fewer reps than if you were to take it off, you will also be much slower while performing them as well. As a final example, there are people who struggle even doing a single pull up because they cannot overcome the weight of their own bodies.
In short, having a higher level of relative strength will:
- Increase your explosiveness
- Increase your speed
- Increase your agility
- Will allow you to perform more weight and reps in the gym
- Will allow your program design to not be so limited which makes training more interesting and effective
Reason #3: Better Conditioning
You’ve now learned that extra weight can hold you back in your speed and in what you can do in the gym – but one of the most obvious and most brutal realities behind carrying around extra weight is that it can really hinder your ability to play an entire game of hockey at the efforts you want to be operating at.
Conditioning is also known as work capacity within discussions between program design experts and this essentially represents your ability to keep going until fatigue sets in.
Regardless of what the situation is – whether it’s a shift, game, or tournament weekend – you must have the energy to be able to go the distance.
It’s obvious even to the untrained eye that you’ll become exhausted and quit much faster than you would had you otherwise been a lean athlete. The backpack analogy works here too – try playing a game of hockey with 20 pounds strapped to you at all times, it’s no different than body fat.
Reason #4: Increased Energy
We all only have so much energy to expend each day before we become fatigued, how healthy you are is a major factor in how large of an energy reserve you have to work with – and also a factor in how much coffee and energy drinks you completely rely on in order to be productive doing anything.
Carrying around extra body fat makes everything harder, both on the ice and in life. Therefore, the more body fat you have, the quicker you’re going to feel tired and the more reliant you’re going to be on energy drinks.
Not to mention that you’ll feel “crashes” at certain intervals of the day much more brutally than your healthier counterparts.
It’s no mistake why those who have lost a ton of weight also feel better from the inside-out, it’s because they have so much more energy to work with each day – and that energy often goes towards even better workouts and even better hockey performance.
That dreaded backpack full of rocks that you carry around the office, at your job, when playing with your kids, and when working around the house will drag you down in life just as much as it will out on the ice.
Following an effective fat loss plan will help you drop fat, which in turn will allow you to become a much more energy efficient human being.
Reason #5: Healthier Joints
Losing fat will be one of the most impactful things you will ever do in order to reduce pain and take unnecessary stress off of your joints.
This happens primarily through two main reasons, the first one is because joints are what is known as “avascular” – meaning, they require regular movement in order to bring in nutrients and allow waste products to leave our bodies.
Put simply, our bodies respond to stress, and maintaining an active lifestyle gives them the movement they need in order to keep themselves healthy.
However, if you’re carrying around extra weight, it can make you much less comfortable and therefore less active. This leads to a more sedentary lifestyle that only perpetuates more pain and more stress to your joints.
Beyond the avascular note, the second reason that carrying around extra weight causes pain and unhealthy joints is simply due to repetitive strain. For example, let’s say you have sore knees and hips, but you’re also carrying around an extra 20 pounds that you know you need to lose.
Well, even on a lazy day a human takes about 5000 steps – so if you factor in the unnecessary body fat, that’s literally 100,000 extra pounds of pressure being placed upon your joints each and every day (20 pounds x 5000 steps). It’s no wonder why your joints are in pain and get beat up, again, 20 pounds of rocks in a backpack is no fun to carry around.
The Final Word On Fat Loss For Hockey Performance
This may have been an eye-opening article for some of you, and some of the things I might have said may have hit you right in the heart. For that, I don’t apologize.
Because I want you to be the best possible version of yourself and I want you to gain these amazing benefits in your life so that you can enhance your health, life quality, and overall hockey performance. I’ll say whatever I need to say to bring the belief and positivity towards new change out of you.
An excellent fat loss program is one of the most transformational things you will ever do, both from the outside-in and the inside-out.
Get out there and make it happen! I’m rooting for you every step of the way.
And if you’d like help with a training and nutrition program to help with fat loss I’d recommend checking out one of our programs on our Hockey Training Programs page.
Top 4 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight
As an athlete, you need to be lean in order to be maximally successful. Dropping body fat has an immediate benefit towards your speed, agility, nutrient partitioning and hormonal profile. For men, this means walking around anywhere between 9-15% body fat, and for women this means staying within 14-22%.
In any sport (besides sumo wrestling), the athletes perform far better when they are lean and have a longer career longevity, but this is especially true in hockey. Hockey demands that you have maximal conditioning and carrying around too much body fat does nothing to support performance. It does not increase your strength, it does not improve your conditioning and it does not improve your health. In fact, it can have a negative impact on all of those things, whether it be short term or long term.
The audience of this blog in very much intrinsically motivated, which pretty much means you already knew that you should be lean and you are already motivated enough to do so. The problem many run into is they simply stall in their weight loss efforts and then don’t know where to turn next. The purpose of this blog will not be to write out a meal plan for you, but instead discuss the most common reasons athletes fall into this trap where they cannot drop anymore body fat.
#1: You suck at counting calories
This is easily the most common reason athletes fail to drop body fat. Listen here, do not put the cart before the horse! Worrying about what protein you’re using, what time you have your meals, when you train, what supplements you take, is all useless information until you get your calories straight. This needs to be done first, not last.
Thermodynamics is not just a cool idea, they are the laws of physics. Meaning, energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only transferred from one place to another. In the case of nutrition and body weight regulation, this means:
Calories in vs. Calories out
This equation is incredibly more complex than it looks as that equation alone represents the entire metabolism, but we don’t need to break that all down. What you do need to know though is that the body can only be in three physiological states in respect to the laws of thermodynamics.
#1: Hypocaloric state – A hypocaloric state is a state in which calories in are less than calories out so therefore you will lose weight. This is typically characterized by somebody who is successfully dropping weight.
#2: Maintenance – A state of maintenance is a state in which calories in are equal to calories out so therefore you will maintain your current weight. This is normally seen in three different scenarios among hockey players. The first is somebody who has met their goals and only wants to maintain. The second is the guy who thinks he is “eating so much and just can’t gain weight” when he is clearly only eating at maintenance. The third is the guy who has plateaued in his fat loss efforts and is no longer dropping weight and is instead currently (most of the time unknowingly) eating at maintenance.
#3: Hypercaloric state – A hypercaloric state is a state in which calories in are greater than calories out so therefore you will gain weight. This is typically characterized by somebody who is successfully gaining weight.
What does any of this mean?
Well, you can be taking all the perfect supplements, eating at all the perfect times, eating the most high quality perfect foods, getting perfect sleep every single night and be on a perfect training plan. BUT, if you’re eating at maintenance calorie levels, you aren’t going to lose a pound.
That’s reality for you, and that’s honestly where a lot of people fall short. They’ll something along the lines of:
“I’m training hard and I’m eating the right foods, it’s just not coming off”
You know what, they are probably right. They probably are training hard and eating the right foods. This doesn’t mean though that they aren’t eating too much of the right foods. Here’s an important take away point for you.
Whether it’s a “clean food” or not, your body has no problem storing it as body fat.
The stomach has no gauge that goes:
“Oh ok this was chicken, broccoli and rice. I’ll put 100% of this right into the muscle and not as fat, because this is clean food!”
Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Your body just see’s food and energy, that’s it. When in a hypercaloric or maintenance state (Calories in are greater than or equal to calories out), each and every food has an equal ability to be stored as fat.
So how do we get around this?
Find out what your maintenance is and go from there. If you have been weight stable for the past month there is an incredibly reliable chance that you’re habitually eating at maintenance. Keep a food log for the next 7 days, write down absolutely EVERYTHING you eat (foods and liquids). From here, take the average amount across the 7-days and you have your maintenance number.
To initiate weight loss, I recommend starting with just a small 10% deficit in this number and going from there. This ensures you will be eating less than maintenance and also lets you know what your maintenance actually is so you have more knowledge at your disposal to attack this thing.
#2: You’re being an idiot on the weekends
You know what’s a great way to ruin a good week’s worth of dieting?
Being an idiot during the weekend.
It is much easier to ruin your fat loss efforts than you think by posting an “epic cheat meal” on Instagram or going out for wings and beers with the boys. Those calories add up, and they add up fast. Let’s go over a couple examples most relevant to hockey players, bar food and beer.
Example #1: Joe Schmo
Joe read this article, did a week’s worth of logging his intake and found out his maintenance was 2500 calories per day. Joe wants to lose weight so he took my advice and started out with a simply 10% deficit in daily calories intake each and every day.
Cutting intake: 2500kcal – 10% = 2250kcal
New daily intake throughout the week: 2250kcal
So what we have here is a daily decrease in 250kcal, over the course of the week (7 days), this translates into a weekly deficit of 1750kcal.
Joe was very good with his diet all week. He tracked everything on his nutrition app and ensured he only ate 2250kcal per day everyday but when he started this diet he told himself that every Saturday was going to be his cheat day so he is going out to the bar to watch the hockey game tonight and he’s going to order a cheeseburger with fries and a beer.
What does the math look like here for the cheeseburger and fries?
Hooters cheeseburger + fries = 1710kcal
Boston Pizza cheeseburger + fries = 1690kcal
TGIF cheeseburger + fries = 1810kcal
(few popular restaurant examples, although from my searching they all hover around 1600-2000+)
Now how about for a couple beers to go with it?
Two Budweiser’s = 290kcal
Two Coor’s = 298kcal
Two Heineken = 296kcal
(again just some popular examples, although from my research they all hover 150kcal-ish per normal beer, but the red’s and dark’s can climb up a lot higher)
We now have a grand total here sitting EASILY around 2000kcals. If you have been reading closely, the weekly deficit we created by being good all week was only 1750kcal. So we just effectively lost the deficit we created this week with one meal alone, I didn’t even count the other stuff you would have ate that day leading up to going out for dinner and having a couple of beers.
Now, am I saying you should never go out to eat and enjoy nights like this?
Of course not!
But you now know how sensitive this situation can be towards making or breaking your current goals. Remember, I’m going to repeat this again, the calorie deficit you earned by being good all week was eliminated with only ONE MEAL. Lots of people don’t even do a “cheat meal” and instead do a “cheat day” or “cheat weekend”. These people can not only effectively nullify their deficit, but actually go backward and gain weight by making such bad decisions on the weekend.
A good rule to stick with is this:
You should have to earn your free meal.
Have you successfully lost weight this week?
If the answer is yes, have a nice meal.
Did you not lose any weight this week?
If the answer is yes, why are you going out for crap?
Again, I am in no way saying that going out for a bar food meal with your friends/family is a bad thing whatsoever. What I am saying is that if you haven’t lost any weight this week at all and you’re still doing things like this you’re going to have a tough time convincing anybody (including yourself) that fat loss is something that’s important to you.
#3: You have been trying to diet for too long
In nutritional science, there is such a thing called metabolic adaptation. What metabolic adaptation essentially is is the metabolism recognizing that you have been in a hypocaloric state for too long so it intentionally slows itself down to decrease any further weight loss.
This is an evolution-based mechanism for survival. Your body doesn’t care that you want to be lean and good at hockey, all it cares about is your survival. The body is a survival machine. Without diving into too much detail (metabolic adaptation has mountains of research behind it), when you enter a hypocaloric state for too long of a period (several months in most cases), your brain and metabolism will think that food is scarce and that you may starve to death if you continue to lose weight.
So, the metabolism slows itself right down to put you back into maintenance mode as opposed to a hypocaloric state so that weight loss does not continue and that you survive another day. An overly simplistic example looks something like this:
• Original maintenance: 2000kcal
• You decide to cut calories 20% so you begin to habitually eat 1600kcal daily
• *Several months pass*
• Metabolism slows itself down to 1600kcal so that now your calories in are equalling your calories out
• Since the metabolism has slowed down, no more weight loss ensues
An important note I want to make sure before moving on is that this is metabolic adaptation and NOT metabolic damage. Metabolic damage is a dumb made up buzzword. Metabolic adaptation has been around for years and is something that has tons of research and understanding, metabolic damage on the other hand is a made up term coined to stir up attention and nothing else.
In this scenario, going back up to your original maintenance for 2-4 weeks will actually pay you dividends in the long term for your future weight loss efforts. This effectively “resets” hormonal and physiological mechanisms behind getting your metabolism running at a high speed again.
#4: You suck at sleeping
Sleep quality’s effect on the body’s Respiratory Exchange Ratio (RER) is one of its biggest noticeable effects. RER is a way in which to measure the primary source of your body’s fuel for energy. If you have a low measured RER you are burning a greater proportion of fat. If you have a high RER your body is burning a greater proportion of lean tissue. Here’s a snap shot overview of what RER is and how it relates to hockey players.
Most of us are all familiar with Resting Metabolic Rates (RMR). For those of us who are not familiar, an RMR value is the number of calories at which you burn per day just to sustain normal bodily function. This is the rate of energy the body uses while at rest to keep vital functions going, such as breathing and keeping warm. This can vary quite a bit between individuals based primarily on size. For example, a 300lbs strongman competitor is going to have a higher RMR to keep his body functioning on a day to day basis than a 90lbs gymnast.
Where RER values come into play is they determine how much of this base daily calorie burn is coming from either fatty tissue, or lean tissue (muscle, glycogen stores). Hockey players are incredible athletes and to compete at a high level we want to have the greatest lean muscle tissue to fat tissue ratios so optimizing RER is something of significant importance.
How sleep ties into this is research has shown low levels of sleep (5.5hrs nightly) significantly raises RER. Meaning, if you are consistently getting poor sleeps you are shifting the majority of your daily calorie burn to lean tissue as opposed to fatty tissue. Ideally, we would have a low RER value to optimize fat burning while keeping your lean muscle mass.
Here’s some more bad news.
A decreased sleep level raises your RER value without affecting your metabolic rate. Meaning, if your daily calorie burn average is 2500 calories, it is going to stay that way with or without a bad sleep. So if you get a bad sleep and your RER raises, your metabolism won’t lower to offer up some damage control. You will just lose that much more lean tissue. Not good.
To put things into perspective and give some examples. Let’s say you have an average calorie burn of 2500 calories per day. If you have a low RER value, 2000 of that could be coming from fat and only 500 from lean tissue. Whereas if you have a high RER value, 1250 could be coming from fat at 1250 from lean muscle tissue. Not a good trade off if optimizing your athletic potential and body composition are in your sights.
Why should we actually care about this?
I can quickly answer this question with a couple other questions. If you’re trying to lose weight, do you want to lose 50% body fat and 50% lean muscle tissue? Or would you rather lose a lot more body fat than lean muscle tissue?
On top of this, sleep plays many other important roles in regards to fat loss that go outside the scope of this blog post which include levels and ratios of testosterone/growth hormone/cortisol, how well your immune system functions, levels of leptin/ghrelin (staggeringly important towards speed of metabolism) and blood sugar regulation.
To wrap things all up here for you, if weight loss is a tough battle that you’re currently fighting calories is without a doubt the #1 thing you need to address.
How Hockey Players Can Lean Down
If you have read my article on the ideal body fat percentages for hockey players, you will know that male hockey players should ideally be between 8-12% body fat and females should be aiming for 15-18% body fat.
You might be asking yourself “Well don’t hockey players just lean down like everybody else – by eating healthy and working out hard?”
Well, yes, that’s correct at the most basic level possible.
But if you’re an athlete looking to improve your hockey performance while simultaneously changing your body composition, aren’t you going to want to control for all potential variables during the process so you get the most targeted result?
We need to be able to keep your energy level highs, make sure the weight loss is coming in the areas we want, and ensure we are staying strong and powerful in the process so your on-ice performance doesn’t suffer.
Let’s dive in and review the difference between good and optimal.
Fat Loss Nutrition
First and foremost, nobody is going to be optimally changing their body composition without paying close attention to their nutrition.
Proper nutrition, meal plan design and nutritional periodization is going to:
1. Controlled eating ensures you are eating in a caloric deficit. Without this, you will never lose weight no matter how much you train. You can’t out train a bad diet.
2. Ensure you still have adequate energy levels to train hard even when you’re in a caloric deficit.
3. Allow you to maintain the maximum amount of lean mass and strength possible while leaning down.
4. Allow you to still perform on the ice at a high level, most likely at a better level even though you are in a caloric deficit since you are dropping body fat. Less fat = more speed and more conditioning without changing any other variables.
5. Maximize recovery. Recovery boils down to Sleep → Calories → Carbohydrates → Protein. Probably in that order too.
6. Maintain optimal hormone and immune system function while losing weight.
When it comes to bodyweight regulation, nothing is more important than caloric intake.
Anybody who tells you calories don’t matter either doesn’t understand science or is trying to sell you something.
Calories have been the #1 regulator of body weight for several decades of research, that’s not ever going to go away. At its most basic level, it boils down to energy balance (energy in vs. energy out).
Energy In vs. Energy Out
Meaning, the relationship between how many calories you are taking in per day (through protein [4 calories per gram], carbohydrates [4 calories per gram] and fat [9 calories per gram]) VS. How many calories you are burning per day. The amount burned is a combination of the following:
• Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF): Amount of calories burned through digestion. For example, protein has an average 20% TEF through digestion. So to consume 100 calories of protein, an average of 20 calories of that intake would be burned off simply through digestion/absorption.
• Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) / Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR): Many people use these terms interchangeably which is not correct, but in any case that doesn’t matter here. What this represents is the amount of calories you burn through daily bodily function. All of the things your body needs to do to maintain optimal function and keep you alive.
• Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA): TEA refers to calories burned through formal exercise such as weight training, conditioning, etc.
• Spontaneous Physical Activity/Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (SPA/NEAT): SPA/NEAT represents a more subconscious form of physical activity caloric expenditure such as walking, fidgeting, getting up from a seated position, tapping your foot, etc.
Keep in mind this is a VERY simplistic overview of the above as although I do feel it is important you to know the variables, it isn’t necessary or plausible for me to go over each aspect in the full detail I should in an article strictly on weight reduction for sport performance. But just know in your mind that calories are king to weight reduction and that none of the above are static.
All forms of Energy In VS. Energy Out are subject to change every single day for many reasons that I won’t go into here, but it is these reasons why people without a true understanding of everything that goes into the equation feel it’s not accurate.
If there is enough demand I can make a super “sciency” article in the future going over it. But my guess is that few people are as big of a nerd as I am and they just want to know the “how” instead of the “why”.
Moving forward with the how…
We must begin with calories because if this doesn’t get checked, everything else will be meaningless. There are three different states the body can be in regards to bodyweight regulation:
Maintenance: Where the Energy In equals the Energy Out and therefore the body has no change in body weight.
Hypocaloric state: Where the Energy In is less than the Energy Out and therefore the body will lose weight.
Hypercaloric state: Where the Energy In is greater than the Energy Out and therefore the body will gain weight.
Now here is why it is the most important aspect to consider whenever jumping on any weight loss regime. If you aren’t in a hypocaloric state, you will not lose weight no matter what you do.
Meaning, you can be eating great foods, training hard, taking the right supplements, having your food at the right times, and getting a great sleep every night — and still I promise you, you will never lose a pound.
Because your energy equation is off.
It’s impossible to lose weight if you’re taking in the same amount that you’re expending. Your body weight will go nowhere. You will simply be maintaining your mass. This is normally the state people are in when they are either plateauing in their fat loss OR even their weight gaining efforts.
Do not waste your time!
If fat loss is your primary objective, calories also have to be your primary objective.
Now that I have beat that concept to death…
I can tell you that although calories are the major body weight regulator, they won’t determine the tissue specificity of that weight within the person. Meaning, calories just regulate body weight. But the type of training you do, your genetics, and the macronutrient split you use to make up your “allowed” calories will determine your tissue-specific body weight which is how much lean mass vs. body fat you are carrying.
Body weight and body composition are two very different things.
From a macronutrient perspective, the ideal split for a hockey player who is strength training during a lean down should look something like this:
Protein: 0.8 – 1.2g of protein per pound of body weight per day
Carbohydrates: 1-2g of carbohydrates per pound of body weight per day on training days. 0g-0.5g of carbohydrates per pound of body weight on non-training days
Fat: Fat will simply make up the rest of your calorie allotment.
Calculating Macronutrients (Example Layout):
Hockey Player A on Training Days
Body weight: 200lbs
Body fat percentage: 20%
Lean body mass: 200 x 0.80 = 160lbs
Initial calorie recommendation for fat loss (Lean mass x 11-13, best to always start with 13) = 160 x 13 = 2080 calories per day
Protein (1g per pound of body weight) = 200g (800 calories)
Carbohydrates (1g per pound of body weight) = 200g (800 calories)
Fat: Fat makes up the remainder of what is left. In this case, 2080 total calories – 800 calories (protein) – 800 calories (carbs) = 480 calories. Since fat has 9 calories per gram, we divide 480 by 9 to get our result: 480 / 9 = 53g
ANSWER: Hockey Player A to begin his initial lean down process would begin at 2080 calories per day and to make up those calories to ensure he maintains his lean muscle mass and has great energy on training days and on the ice still he is going to consume:
53g of fat
Hockey Player A on Non-Training Days
Body weight: 200lbs
Body fat percentage: 20%
Lean body mass: 200 x 0.80 = 160lbs
Initial calorie recommendation for fat loss (Lean mass x 11-13, best to always start with 13) = 160 x 13 = 2080 calories per day
Protein (1g per pound of body weight) = 200g (800 calories)
Carbohydrates (0.5g per pound of body weight) = 100g (400 calories)
Fat: 2080 – 800 – 400 = 97g
ANSWER: Hockey Player A to begin his initial lean down process would begin at 2080 calories per day and on non-training days is going to consume:
Having the proper distribution of macronutrients is vital to your success in your lean down journey.
Calories, although king of body weight regulation, do not mean everything. A good example of this would be to compare 2000 calories of eating pure sugar every day in comparison to the 2000 calorie diet laid out above.
Who do you think is going to be healthier, perform better, retain more muscle mass and look better?
As far as timing is concerned, I am not going to dive too deep into this as this would turn into more of a book than it would a blog post. Just keep in mind protein should be had in even quantities throughout the whole day, post-workout protein in no way shape or form has to be a large dose.
The most important aspect is to ensure a steady stream of amino acids throughout the whole day. Ideally split across 4-6 meals.
Carbohydrate intake on training days is best eaten pre-workout, during training and within the 6hrs after training for reasons I discussed in the game-day nutrition article.
Fat timing is quite simple. Just keep it away from the pre/during/post-workout window.
Again, 4-6 meals per day is optimal for meal plan design.
Initiating your lean down process and Lean Body Mass (LBM) x 13 should be a great start in healthily kick-starting your weight loss although if you run into plateaus down the road, adjustments may need to be made.
First and foremost do not reduce calories further unless you are training 5 – 6 days per week, following the diet at least 90% of the time and making sure you are accurately accounting for all calories.
Sometimes liquid calories, sauces, and cheats on the weekend throw off your energy equation. Ensure you are very accurate before creating a new deficit. It is always best to eat as much food as you possibly can while still losing weight.
Although if you run into a plateau while eating LBM x 13 + training often + following all the above rules — an additional deficit may need to be placed. In this scenario, I never recommend introducing a new deficit greater than 10% of your current calories. You should always be conservative with these and the deficit should never need to go below your BMR.
Last but not least, guidelines for rate of weight loss for hockey players should never exceed 1-2lbs per week.
This is a perfect rate of healthy, good weight loss.
Going any more than that can have detrimental effects on your muscle mass and performance. Keep it in that zone and if it falls out of that zone, adjust your calories accordingly.
Lean Down Training
From a training perspective, you would be surprised to know that it shouldn’t change too much.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you still must train like a hockey player.
The last thing you want to do is train like a marathon runner to start losing weight.
Training in this fashion puts you at potential risk for loss of development in the muscles important for hockey performance.
At the end of the day, the most powerful weapon by far in weight loss is calories.
If you have ever looked at how much exercise it takes to actually create a 500 calorie burn you would realize how weak of an effect on weight loss exercise actually has.
Calorie reduction via “energy in” is a much more effective and simple way to elicit weight loss which is why I take a slightly different approach with my hockey athletes.
I actually don’t want my hockey players training lighter, or with more reps, or with fat-loss circuits or any of that stuff while leaning down. It’s just not necessary, you can actually lose more muscle in the process.
One of the best ways to maintain muscle mass in a lean down process is to keep some heavy, compound movements in your plan. To put it simply, the body says:
“Ok, this guy is still lifting heavy. I am going to have to keep this muscle around even though we are losing weight in case we are exposed to this heavyweight again”
A combination of 4 well-designed weight training sessions per week, 1 high-intensity conditioning session + 1-3 low-intensity tempo runs are well more than enough to get anybody shredded, let alone just lose some weight.
To wrap things up, being lean is absolutely essential to performing at your best on the ice and ensuring you are training and eating properly for hockey performance is ideal in any scenario not just leaning down.
You have to train and eat like an athlete year-round regardless of the goal at hand and even when the primary goal is to change your body composition, everything you do to achieve that body composition should still be based around hockey performance training decisions.
If you want help losing weight so you can become a better hockey player, score more goals, and dominate your hockey league check out our Hockey Training Programs!