Vancouver Women's Field Hockey Association
'A' Game Series - Issue No. 02 – Fuel Your Body
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Fuel Your Body - Nutrition for Practices and Games 

“I am building a fire, and every day I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.”

–Mia Hamm, gold medalist in women’s football.

In an age of bandwagon trends, one need not go far before receiving unsolicited advice regarding diet and nutrition. As athletes, we must carefully consider if we are getting sound advice when it comes to fueling our bodies for practices and games. To address this issue, Erika Weissenborn, recently voted #1 nutritionist in "the best of Vancouver" 2016, has provided practical, informed advice regarding sports nutrition.

Question: What are the best macronutrients to have before a game?

Answer: Protein is necessary for the re-building of muscles post-work out (usually in less quantities than we think), but it is actually inefficient as a fuel source before a game, as protein is the body’s last choice for caloric fuel because of its additional nitrogen-group. This isn’t to say never have any protein pre-workout, as it is satiating for appetite and can keep you fuller for longer. There are also naturally occurring amino acids in many of the foods we eat, but just don’t rely on it as a main source of fuel before a game - as you may find it’s harder for your body to access the energy it needs.

Muscles under high intensity exercise use either fat or carbohydrates as fuel for energy. The percentage of utilization from carbohydrates vs. fats for muscle energy is based on the intensity of exercise, and % of V02 max that is being fulfilled. To simplify: lower intensity exercise uses a much higher proportions of fat as fuel, and higher intensity exercise uses almost all carbohydrates/glycogen as fuel. So a pre-game energy source should be chosen accordingly. Now, I am not an expert in field hockey but from my experience it seems to be a fairly high-intensity sport, so my best guess is that there will be about 450-600 calories of fuel burned per hour of playing, at a rate of about 75% of that being direct glycogen/carbohydrates as fuel, and the rest from fat. This of course will depend on your level of output, body weight, and other factors. My best advice is to play around with the amounts, and find the one that works best for you.

Question: Do you have any snack recommendations? 

Answer: Usual recommendations for pre-game snacks are dairy based (chocolate milk), toast, bagels with peanut butter, and things like that. Proportionally the macros are right, but as a holistic nutritionist I look at not only the nutrients, but also at the effects of the food on the body. Dairy, wheat and sugar based foods can trigger an inflammatory response in the body, so best to avoid these around a workout. Other foods that are higher in carbohydrates are bananas, rice, rice cakes, fruit, and cooked squash/yams/root vegetables. To add in some fats that are higher in mono or polyunsaturated fatty acids try some hemp seeds, avocado, almond butter, coconut oil, or egg. Eating your snack around half an hour before go time is ideal, but if you have trouble digesting then leave a longer gap between eating and playing.

Question: I'm getting hungry just thinking of carbs! Do you have any snack recipe suggestions? 

Answer: Of course! 

* Baked sweet potato or squash, half an avocado, 1 tbls hemp seeds, sprinkle of Himalayan salt

* Smoothie: 2 bananas (peeled and frozen), 1 cup other frozen fruit (mango, blueberry, pineapple), 1 cup almond milk, 2 cups spinach, 2 tbls hemp seeds

If you have any nutrition questions, or want help with your food preparation please feel free to contact at

Erika Weissenborn 
B.Sc. Food, Nutrition and Health 
Certified Nutritional Practitioner
Voted #1 nutritionist in "the best of Vancouver" 2016

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