If you’ve been following along with this series about the best supplements for your sport, you might be wondering why we haven’t mentioned ice hockey. Our home base is in Canada, isn’t it? Yes, indeed it is, and you don’t have to wait any longer because now we’re going to talk about the sport that’s most associated with Canada – ice hockey!
There are many rules to the game, but the general gist is that ice hockey is a team sport played on an ice rink, in which two teams attempt to get a puck into the opposing team’s goal.
Along with the maple leaf, maple syrup, and the question “eh,” ice hockey is a Canadian marker. When you hear these words, O Canada starts to play somewhere in your head or your heart, but why?
Canada created modern ice hockey, and it stands as one of Canada’s most popular sports, with players of all ages and genders participating at some point in their lives.
Immigrants brought games that included sticks and balls with them to Canada, but the colder climates forced them to adapt the game and take it to frozen lakes. Montreal, Canada, was where the first game of indoor hockey was played in 1875. The new sport rose in popularity, and by 1893, Canada created the first-ever Stanley Cup. The Stanley Cup originated as an amateur championship and then eventually opened to professionals in 1906. By 1914, the Stanley Cup opened beyond Canada and allowed players in the USA.
While hockey is most popular in Canada, the love for it is not reserved to Canada alone.
Today, hockey is popular in countries worldwide, with international competitions taking place between Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.
In a fashion typical to Canada, we’re immensely proud of our sport, and the pride and love have carried on generation after generation. Part of the infatuation is the competitive nature and athleticism.
Of course, ice hockey players are very tough athletes who can seemingly compartmentalize pain and push through to finish the game. However, ice hockey players are more than just tough. Players require a combination of high-level skills from skating to hand-eye coordination. On top of the necessary skills, there’s a unique level of contact, combined with short bursts of intense speed and agility. How short are we talking? The average shift for an ice hockey player is about 45 seconds.
Forty-five seconds doesn’t seem like an exceptionally long time, but when you consider the way energy systems work in the body, it makes more sense.
When we start exercising, the body begins using the phosphagen system. In this energy system, creatine phosphate reconstitutes ATP (adenosine triphosphate – cellular energy). This energy system only has the capacity to last for approximately 30 seconds.
After the initial phosphagen phase, the body switches to the anaerobic energy system. Anaerobic means oxygen isn’t required. The body breaks down stores of glucose to create ATP. This process is relatively quick and lasts from thirty seconds to about three minutes.
After the body has completed the phosphagen and anaerobic systems, it switches into the aerobic state. This is the only energy system that requires oxygen, and it is the most extended system. Oxygen allows the body to burn carbohydrates and fats to slowly create and sustain ATP production for the duration of your exercise.
Energy systems considered, it makes sense that ice hockey shifts last only about 45 seconds, seeing as they are in an all-out sprint for the duration of said shift. Hockey player’s bodies can only support that level of exertion for a short time.
Ice hockey is essentially a 60-minute HIIT workout, with the addition of skills and slamming bodies. Now that we understand what a hockey player’s body is going through, we can get to the good stuff: supplements to support ice hockey players.
Any supplement brand creating products to benefit athletes of a particular sport should consider the conditions in which athletes play and the energy systems they use. Aside from improving performance, supplementing to support recovery is essential as well. Recovery support becomes increasingly critical to athletes who participate in high contact, rough sports, and exceptionally long season.
All these conditions lead us to specific supplement recommendations to support hockey players, even those tough Canada players who think the cold doesn’t affect them because they’re born and bred in the Canada tundra!
Unless you’re eating the world’s most balanced diet, you most likely will benefit from the addition of a multivitamin. Multivitamins are packed full of the daily recommended value of the micronutrients your body needs to function properly.
When you’re competing athletically at a high level, whether you’re a Canada pro or not, nutrition is crucial. Prioritizing your nutrition—macronutrients and micronutrients—ensures your best physical performance and keeps you feeling your best.
The addition of a multivitamin, when taken consistently, will have you feeling noticeably healthier and more energetic.
HD Muscle Vita-HD Multivitamin: HD Muscle is a proud Canadian supplement brand with incredibly innovative products, and their multivitamin is no exception. This is a multivitamin that supports an active lifestyle. It has a unique blend of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients to support mood, energy, cell health, and immune function.
Omega fatty acids are another supplement that most people can benefit from, as it has tons of benefits for the heart, joints, and brain.
Omega fatty acids are plentiful in fatty fish. If your diet doesn’t regularly include salmon, cod, or tuna, you might lack the essential fatty acids your body needs. Ensuring that your diet is rich in omega fatty acids is particularly beneficial to ice hockey players in Canada or anyone else competing in contact sports because of the benefits your joints and improved sleep to support recovery.
ANS Performance Fresh1 Omega-3 Fatty Acid: ANS Performance is a brand based in Canada with a complete supplement line. In their line, they include a plant-based solution for dietary omega fatty acids. The fatty acids come from marine algae – where fish get their fatty acids! This supplement avoids that nasty fish smell and after taste because it’s not fish oil.
Now that we’ve talked about the basic supplements to support Canada pros and average Joes alike, let’s get down to sport-specific supplement recommendations.
Creatine is great for anyone looking to gain muscle mass or strength, but creatine is excellent for hockey performance. If you recall above, ice hockey players exist within the phosphagen and anaerobic energy systems where their bodies use creatine and carbs to convert to ATP or cellular energy. Supplementing with creatine ensures creatine reserves are maxed out, and it delays the perception of fatigue. Beyond that, the extra power and strength creatine provides in the gym translates to a stronger, more powerful athlete on the ice, as well.
PVL 100% CreaPure Creatine: Pure Vita Labs created a pure, quality creatine supplement. Micronized creatine ensures your body can digest it easily. Start with a loading dose of 20 grams of creatine per day for five days. Split the 20 grams into five-gram servings four times throughout the day to avoid bloating and digestive tract upset. After the loading phase, switch to a maintenance phase of two to three grams of creatine per day.
Beta-Alanine is another sports-specific supplement that will benefit hockey players. Beta-alanine is an amino acid that, once consumed, binds with another amino acid. Beta-alanine and L-histidine create carnosine, a compound that acts as a buffer and delays the tired, burning feeling of fatigue within the muscles during exertion.
In the gym, this helps push your muscles to the max, ensuring you’re building mass and strength. On the ice, this effect helps you perform at your best for a more extended period.
Allmax Beta-Alanine: Allmax is a leading supplement brand in the industry with a five-stage protocol for ensuring the quality of their supplements. Allmax Beta-Alanine is a pure, quality supplement that does what’s advertised.
While protein shakes are beneficial to most people, especially those looking to lose weight or increase muscle mass, protein shakes are essential to athletes. Aside from the sports-specific benefits, protein shakes help to reach your daily protein requirements. If you believe you eat enough protein-rich foods daily, consider that athletes need anywhere from 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. This amount can be hard to achieve regularly, which is why we recommend supplementing. Protein shakes can provide anywhere from ten to thirty grams of protein in a single serving.
A protein shake supplement can still benefit hockey players that get the proper amount of protein from diet alone. Consuming a protein shake immediately following a workout helps switch the body out of a catabolizing mode and into recovery.
Directly following a grueling hockey game, consuming a protein shake offers the same effect. Switching the body into recovery mode ensures you don’t lose muscle mass, and your body can better repair from the exertion.
Morning Protein Shake: Vega One Protein Shake: To ensure you hit protein goals regularly, start with a protein shake every morning. Vega One is essentially a protein shake supplement, EAA supplement, multivitamin, and probiotic supplement all in one, hence the name.
Vega One is a plant-based, complete protein source protein shake. Multiple ingredients combine to form the complete amino acid profile required to call it a complete protein, making this protein shake double as an EAA supplement. With a morning dose of 20 grams of protein, you will be well on your way to ensuring your muscles have what they need to grow and repair.
We recommend following your hockey game with a Mammoth Meal protein shake due to its macronutrient profile. Mammoth Meal contains a 40%, 40%, 20% ratio of carbs to protein to fats. The addition of carbs ensures glycogen levels within your muscles are restored, ensuring a speedy recovery process. Many professional dieticians will tell you your work isn’t over until you fill up those glycogen reserves. Choosing Mammoth meal over a typical whey protein shake gives you the benefit of carbs when most whey protein supplements contain little to no carbs. Additionally, because Mammoth Meal is a complete protein, it doubles as an EAA supplement as well.
EAA supplements benefit most athletes and are particularly important to athletes that perform at a high level. EAA supplements, short for essential amino acid supplements, provide all nine amino acids that the body cannot produce.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein necessary for muscle repair, recovery, and building. If the protein we consume doesn’t contain all the essential amino acids, it’s not a complete protein, and therefore the body cannot utilize it to create and repair muscle. EAA supplements guarantee that your body always has the required amino acids.
Nutraphase EAA supplements: This is a clean, complete, quality EAA supplement from a trusted brand. This EAA supplement also contains an effective dose of the BCAAs, which are the EAAs most involved in muscle synthesis.
Ice hockey is a well-known and wildly popular sport, especially in Canada. Whether you enjoy playing hockey for fun or you’re a professional athlete, supplements like EAAs, protein shakes, creatine, and beta-alanine can provide sport-specific benefits. Additionally, taking a multivitamin and omega fatty acid supplements can benefit your overall health and performance.
Working to increase strength is an ambitious goal with countless health and physique benefits. The approach to achieving such a goal is like building lean muscle mass or gaining weight. Instead of focusing on the physique, we’re focusing on fueling and strengthening the muscles to turn you into a hulked-out version of yourself.
Searching for a supplement source to aid in achieving your protein goals can feel overwhelming. With so many supplement source brands claiming to be the “best” and wide range price points, it can be tempting to settle for your grocery store’s protein supplement source so that you can stop thinking about it.