Nutrition can impact an athlete’s ability to perform at their best. For this reason, there is no better time to focus on nutrition then in preparation for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Nutrition Team at Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) is strongly committed to delivering services to provincial and national high performance sport programs. The team is very aware that athletes are juggling a variety of responsibilities across sport, work, school and/or family; but understands, if nutrition is neglected or poorly planned, it could limit an athlete’s ability to train, respond to training, and potentially increase the risk of injuries and illnesses.
The CSIO Nutrition Team educates and supports athletes in managing nutrition demands in and around training as well as in competition. In collaboration with coaches, athletes, and other members of the integrated support team (IST), comprehensive evaluations are used for the creation of nutrition programs and systems that incorporate evidence-based sport nutrition principles to properly manage training and competition goals specific to the sport.
The CSIO Nutrition Team, including Sport Nutritionist Erik Sesbreno, has been supporting members of the Canadian Men’s Para Ice Hockey Team whom are living in Ontario. Erik has been providing support in the lead up to the 2017 World Sledge Hockey Championship in South Korea, as well as the 2018 Paralympic Games.
Feeding for Performance on the Ice
Sledge hockey players are strong, well-conditioned athletes. As they prepare for competition, they undertake large amount of training over the year - on-ice conditioning drills, team scrimmages, as well as strength and conditioning programs in the gym. They work hard! Therefore, it is important that they manage most of their energy needs through nutrient dense foods and fluids. Nutrition plans have been developed under a whole food first policy to help manage a broad range of nutrition goals. It is also important to identify athletes who are managing significant chronic injuries and/or long term physical impairments, and whom may benefit from a more comprehensive nutrition strategy in order to successfully manage goals for training and sport, as well as health and well-being.
Make Every Bite Count
Weekly nutrition training plans incorporate a variety of protein rich foods such as meats, eggs, legumes, cheeses, milks and yogurts for the delivery of quality proteins and amino acids to support muscle repair and growth, in addition to other nutrients, such as iron to help transport oxygen throughout the body to support aerobic and power output. Additionally, some of these foods are very rich in calcium for supporting bone health. This is an important strategy because some hockey players have spinal injuries that could cause bone(s) in the effected limb(s) to demineralize. Protein is also important for enhancing skin integrity and reducing the risk of pressure ulcers for those sitting in wheelchairs for long periods over the day.
Speed and Power
In specific cases, nutrition planning may involve the reduction of weight or body fat to enhance an athlete’s power to weight ratio and help them remain speedy on the ice. Body composition assessment techniques, such as surface anthropometry and a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scanner, have been used to properly capture body composition readings to establish realistic and effective goals, as well as to monitor for small, real changes to quickly learn if nutrition plans must be modified. To spare muscle mass while reducing fat mass, small reductions in energy intake have been designed. Again, nutrient dense foods such as meats, fish, eggs, nuts/seeds, vegetables, fruits, lower fat dairy, whole grains, legumes and tubers have been used to supplement the body with a large cluster of nutrients like antioxidants, water, vitamin/minerals. This in turn aids in tissue recovery and revitalization, while intentionally targeting a high daily protein and fibre intake for athletes to feel full for longer periods over the day to prevent overeating. Fluids have also been a big focus to prevent underhydration and manage appetite. However, strategies have been customized for wheelchair bound athletes to avoided excessive transfers from the chair because of frequent trips to the restroom. If mismanaged, this could be a significant burden to the athletes.
As the 2017 World Champions, the Canadian Men’s Para Ice Hockey Team are gearing up for a podium finish in the upcoming 2018 Paralympic Games in PyeongChang. Given their level of preparation and confidence, there is no doubt that they will be a formidable force - good luck team!
About Canadian Sport Institute Ontario
Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) is a non-profit organization committed to the pursuit of excellence by providing world-class programs, services, and leadership to high performance athletes and coaches to enhance their ability to achieve international podium performances. CSIO offers athletes a range of sport science and sport medicine services including nutrition, physiology, biomechanics, strength & conditioning, mental performance, sport therapy and life services. CSIO also delivers programming and services to National and Provincial Sport Organizations and coaches to work towards building a stronger sport system in Ontario and Canada.
CSIO services approximately 700 high performance athletes and 250 coaches, at its main facility at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, its satellite location at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, and in daily training environments across Ontario. CSIO is part of a larger network of 4 institutes and 3 multi-sport centres across the country known as the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network, working in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee. CSIO is further supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Sport Canada, Own the Podium, and the Coaching Association of Canada, along with the National and Provincial Sport Organizations within the sector. www.csiontario.ca
Erik Sesbreno, Sport Nutritionist, Canadian Sport Institute Ontario
Photo: Hockey Canada