What to Eat on Practice and Game Days?

Posted on: December 28th 2016

As a derby skater, you’re probably almost always at practice. We all know that we need to eat well so that we can give our absolute best each time we hit the rink, but what does that mean?

What should I eat before practice?

There’s no ONE right answer. The options will be different for each athlete. Some folks do well with a well-balanced meal a few hours before practice, some like to snack within the hour before practice starts and eat afterwards. There’s not a one-size-fits-all with sports nutrition, you have to find what your body tolerates best, and give it what it wants!

If you prefer a meal 2-3 hours before:

Make sure to eat a protein source to help reduce the markers of muscle damage, eat a carb source to enhance short-term high-intensity performance, eat a fat source to slow digestion, and make sure to include your veggies. Also, drink plenty of water. A decent pre-practice meal could look like: a palm-sized portion of cooked chicken, half a sweet potato, and all the leafy greens you want.  For healthy fat, you can top the greens with olive oil, or add some nuts to your chicken!

If you prefer a smaller meal in the hour before training:

Keep in mind the closer to practice the meal is, the less time you have to digest, so a shake with protein, fruits and veggies, and healthy fats is often a good choice.

Here’s how to make a Super Shake: 1 scoop protein, 1 handful of veggies, 1-2 handfuls of carbs (usually berries), 1 thumb-size of fats (nuts, nut butter or oil), and liquid to mix (usually water).

For example: 1-2 scoops chocolate protein powder, a banana, a handful of beets (blended – go well with chocolate), a tbsp of peanut butter, almond milk for consistency, and coconut on top.


1-2 scoops vanilla protein powder, an apple, a couple of spoonfuls of canned pumpkin, some soaked chia seeds, water, and cinnamon.  

Be adventurous, experiment with flavour profiles, you might come up with something awesome!  Lots of skaters I know will make a large shake, drink half before practice and then half during or after.

Do shakes make you feel to sloshy inside? Make your protein snack portable!

Brownie Balls – These can be found on pretty much any paleo recipe site named “Paleo Brownie Bites” or “Fudge Babies” (from your snacks section)

  • 1-1/3 cup pitted dates
  • scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup raw pecans/almonds/cashews/walnuts
  • Chopped almonds, for rolling in (the balls, not you)
  • Flaked sea salt, for topping (optional)

Process your nuts first, so that they are chunky and small, but not dust (alternately, you can use almond flour). Process your dates (it helps to cut them up first).  Combine ingredients and mix by hand. Ball up. Roll in delicious topping. Freeze or refrigerate at least one hour prior to serving. Feel free to play around with flavours and add-ins (for example, adding in some peppermint oil sounds delicious!). You can also make these into bars if that’s more your style:

Take the above ingredients (excluding the protein powder), add 1/2 cup of rolled oats, and 1/2 cup shredded coconut. Grind in food processor. Slowly add water until the batter is thick and sticky.  Stir in protein powder.  Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper (leaving enough paper over the edges of the pan to lift the bars out by). Press the mixture into the pan, Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes. Cool, cut, enjoy!

Remember your post-training nutrition!

Your nutritional focus after training should be rehydration and refueling. To maximize recovery, eat inside a 2-hour window after training.  Eat a high-protein meal or shake (20-60 grams of protein depending on gender and goals) and you’ll be good to go!

When you put a little bit of thought into it, post-practice nutrition can help you to recover, it can build muscle (and repair muscle damage) and can improve your future performance.

Long story short, training nutrition mirrors itself – treat your recovery meal much like you did your prep meal.  Eat lean protein, high quality carbs, fruits and veggies, and healthy fats in some capacity in the two-ish hour window before training, and then again in the two-ish hour window following training.  If your pre-training meal was small (or you were training fasted), make sure to eat sooner post-training.  If it was-regular sized, you don’t need to rush (but try to stay inside that 2-hour window if possible).

There’s no evidence that protein powders are any better for you than whole food proteins after training, so feel free to skip the shake if you have the time to prepare whole foods.  On that note, minimally processed carbs and fruit (from whole food sources) are likely a better fuel choice that processed ones.  While the post-practice focus is usually on carbs and lean protein, healthy fats have not been shown to impede the benefits of the other macronutrients, and might bring some benefits of their own to your post-training meal.

What does that mean in terms of actual food?

If you’re in a rush, or have a long drive home after practice, make another protein shake with fruit that you can drink after practice. If you’re not into liquid nutrition, make up some tupperware containers – one with fruit and one with veggies and hummus (or nut butter).

THE MOST SIMPLE HUMMUS RECIPE EVER (from your snacks section)

400g of canned chickpeas (save some of the liquid)
2 tsp tahini
1 garlic cloves, crushed
dash crushed sea salt
3 tbsp quality extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
1 1/2  tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Paprika (optional)
Coriander or parsley (optional)

Rinse chickpeas, process. Add tahini, garlic, salt, lemon juice and 5-7 tablespoons of the saved chickpea liquid. When the mixture is smooth, top with a bit of oil, paprika, coriander or parsley.

Another easy post-practice snack is hardboiled eggs – pre-make ’em, and bring them along – alternately, egg muffins that you pre-make are a great choice.  Match them with dried fruits and nuts for carbs and healthy fat.

You can also cook a meal, if you’ve got the time – a palm-sized chicken breast and brown rice/sweet potato will give you the carbs and protein your body is looking for.  Add leafy greens at will!

If you find you have a sweet tooth after practice, never fear!  You can still indulge, and adequately refuel by making chia pudding – high in protein, fiber, fiber, omegas, potassium, and magnesium – add some fruit on top for an extra carb boost!


1.5tbsp chia
1/2c almond milk
1 scoop protein powder (I like chocolate)
Fruit and spice to top

This is great for practice days, because you can just put the chia in the almond milk (or water or whatever beverage you please), leave it to gel while you practice (at least an hour), mix in the protein powder once it’s set, top and enjoy!

Finally, what about those crazy long game days, or double-header days, or tournaments?  

Game Day Eats

What should you bring with you to the arena on game day, other than your gear and killer instinct? Here are some ideas to make you the nutrition star of your change room:

First of all – make sure you have lots of water, and keep hydrating throughout the day – once at the arena, through the practice, and following it.  Carry your water bottle with you constantly, and keep refilling it.  How much water is enough? Check it out!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, bringing a protein shake, drinking half before a game and half during or after is a great way to both fuel your activity and make sure that you have the nutrients you need for recover afterwards.  See the recipe above and make it your own, or refer to the many shake recipes in your Recipe Book.

If shakes aren’t your thing, orange slices and watermelon wedges will give you the kick of carbs you’re craving, and will help to hydrate since they both have a high water content.  Combine that with some Greek yogurt for protein and some seeds and nuts for healthy fat, and you’ve got yourself a pretty great pre-game snack.

If that’s just too many things to remember to bring, you can make yourself an all-in-one sports performance bar! (from your Recipe Book’s snacks section)

1/4 natural peanut butter
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup (omit if you don’t like it too sweet)
nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut as your heart desires

Mix peanut butter, protein powder, honey or syrup and add-ins into cooked rice.  Press into wax-paper lined 8×8 baking pan. Cool in fridge overnight – I didn’t let mine set long enough (and also slightly overcooked my rice) and they were pretty mushy, but still delish!  So, let them set for a long time. Cut, wrap, and toss in your gear bag to go!

If you know you have a long derby day in store, eat foods that are familiar, and make you feel good and ready for action. Make it easy on yourself and pack a cooler in advance to take to the arena. If you have a cooler full of delicious, healthy snacks that you eat when you feel hungry, you’re far less likely to end practice ravenous and looking for anything at all to curb your hunger. A little bit of advance planning goes a long way.

Having a practice-day nutrition plan will really help refine your game-day nutrition.  You can develop a routine that coincides with your pre-game ritual – have one for home and one for travel. That way you don’t have to think about nutrition on game day. You already know what you’re going to do, you just have to go and do it – just like you will on the track.