Date:  Source: Elite Edge Hockey

If a Ferrari owner wants to get the best out of their world-class vehicle, they’re probably not fueling it with the regular-unleaded option at the pump.


For a young hockey player who wants to get to the next level, a pregame value meal at the drive through isn’t going to do the trick, either.


That was the message from Jesse Brown, chef and owner of Eat Fresh Ready Meals, to over 200 participants as the week began at the Elite Edge Hockey Showcase. Sure, performance on the ice is paramount when it comes to the game, but how does one maximize that output when it matters most?


It certainly isn’t going to come from empty calories.


“For these guys to be able to compete at the next level, they’re all working out, they’re all skating when they’re young and their nutrition is such a big part of it,” Brown said. “If they’re putting that part into their game, it’s going to make them elite.”


Brown, who says his 5-year-old son is already eating food prepared from the Eat Fresh Ready Meals kitchen, believes it’s never too early to become serious about a healthy diet, especially for a young athlete.


That belief has become commonplace in the NHL over the past decade or so, with players opting for strict diets through a number of avenues, including personalized meal plans from expert nutritionists and dieticians.


Gone are the days of coming into training camp to get in shape after a summer full of burgers and fries. Now, most professional hockey players only touch that option occasionally, if at all.


While the participants at Elite Edge this week haven’t hit that level yet, many of them aspire to do so. Some have already begun incorporating meal plans into their busy routines between balancing school, hockey and other activities throughout the season. Brown says a number of EE players are already on his meal plans, and they have experienced positive changes thanks to what they’re putting in their bodies.


“It sounds crazy to some of these guys when I tell them to go buy a cooler and plan out your day, but it’s going to make a difference,” Brown said. “One player asked me what he should eat at the concession stand at the rink, but the stuff at the concession stand is for the people in the stands, it’s not for the people on the ice. You have to be a different creature in order to be at that elite level that these guys want to attain.”


The ideal pregame meal for a player would be loaded with carbohydrates and protein, such as chicken with pasta or rice, and perhaps some vegetables on the side. And in a game like hockey, the player who consumes that meal compared to the one who grabs the last-minute chicken fingers has a much better shot at enjoying success.


“A player is going to feel sluggish if they don’t have that elite meal,” Brown said. “He’s going to feel sluggish; he’s going to be run down; he’s going to miss a step. In a sport like hockey, especially, it’s a game of inches, who’s going to get to the puck first. The one that has the high-carbohydrate meal, he’s going to be able to go deep into overtime. The one that has the burger, he’s going to be sucking wind on the bench.”


Brown knows most teenagers probably aren’t going to get out a scale and measuring cup to plan out every meal, and he doesn’t expect them to. Rather, just simply thinking about the next meal, planning on where it’s going to come from and what its going to be made of – that’s something everyone can do.


And if it becomes a habit over time, those players will simply be setting themselves up to be in a better spot than those who ignore nutrition. After all, a highly-trained athlete needs the best fuel they can get.


It just might make the difference between winning and losing.


“I hope that all of these players, when they go to look for their next meal, they flip it over and look at the nutrition facts,” Brown said. “That kind of push in the right direction for them will really help them make better choices. I would love to know that every single one of these guys is going to be a professional hockey player. That would be the ultimate dream, and that’s what we’re here to help them achieve.”