How Many Calories Does a Hockey Player Burn? (More Than You Think)

Posted on April 18, 2024 by Dan Kent
Hockey Player

With ice hockey being as fast-paced and intense as it is, you may wonder how many calories the players are burning over a 60-minute game. 

Though players tend to only be on the ice for relatively short shifts — around 45 seconds, they're playing at a high intensity and getting their heart rates up. As a result, hockey burns a significant amount of calories in a short period.

How many calories do NHL hockey players burn?

Jesse Demers, who was the strength and conditioning coach for the New York Islanders, measured the calorie expenditures of players and came to a conclusion that, on average, players are burning through 1,800 to 2,500 calories per game.

This can depend on the player's position and how many minutes they get on the ice during an average game. A forward who's chasing the puck up and down the ice will likely burn more calories by the end of the game than the goalie, who largely stays in one space.

Generally, a player who plays 5 minutes a game will burn fewer calories than someone who plays 25 minutes a game. However, it is not uncommon for an NHL player to burn the typical daily allowance of calories (2000) in a hockey game.

To put this number into perspective, a mile of running for the average person tends to burn around 100 calories. 1,800 calories would be 18 consecutive miles of running!

skating-towards-puck

How many calories does the average hockey player burn?

Of course, none of us are playing in the National Hockey League. So, this number is less for players participating in recreational games. However, it can still get up to around 1,000 calories per hour of playing ice hockey. Due to the high-intensity intervals of the sport, players will continue to burn calories even once they're off the ice and their body recovers.

Which sport burns the most calories?

Ice skating is the sport that burns the most calories per hour. A game of hockey is essentially a period of high-intensity interval training, much like tennis, and high-intensity interval training is one of the fastest ways to burn a large amount of calories in a short time. This differs from a sport like baseball, where there are long periods when a player is simply standing around.

Even for a player who plays for a few minutes, a recreational hockey game could have a player burning anywhere from 500-1000 calories in an hour.

Factors for how many calories a hockey player can burn

As you know now, hockey is a serious calorie-burning activity. Calorie burn during any exercise will, of course, be dependent on your age, sex, height and weight. 

Other factors can include how much ice time you get and the competitive level of your hockey game.

These numbers aren't intended to be a hard and fast rule but just an estimate based on the average individual.

If you're wondering how many calories you burn while playing the sport, investing in a heart rate monitor or some other type of smart device can accurately portray how many calories you've burned would be best.

Length of time played

It should go without saying that the longer somebody plays hockey, the more calories they'll burn by the end of the night. A forward who's only playing 12 minutes per game will likely end up burning less than their teammate who's playing for upwards of 20 minutes in total.

Effort level

While hockey shifts tend to be under 60 seconds, a player should be physically tired after coming off the ice. If you're not breathing hard and need a break, you're likely not playing as intensely as you could be.

NHL players are going full-out for every shift, meaning they tend to burn the maximum amount of calories by the night's end.

Competition level

While recreational hockey can be a great activity and an effective exercise method, it won't be up to the same standard as NHL games. In the NHL, the competition is fiercer, and the level of effort required from players is significantly higher.

Age

The simple truth is that younger players, on average, have higher levels of energy and stamina and can play at a harder pace for longer periods. They're likely to burn more calories per shift than their older counterparts.

Weight

A player with a heavier body weight will likely burn more calories than their lighter teammates. A person weighing 125 pounds may burn less than 500 calories after playing for an hour. In comparison, a male weighing around 200 pounds can expect to burn over 700 calories per hour of play.

Hockey is a high-intensity workout

There is no special method to maximizing calorie burn during a hockey game.

Simply put skating and working your hardest on the ice will burn calories. While you're on the ice, every stride or stop-and-start requires you to exert your body.

Shooting pucks can also be a light workout for your arms – with slapshots being the most intense. The bodily movement necessary to skate around and shoot or from a standstill requires effort.

Hockey is also sometimes compared to a sprinter's workout. Because players play in shifts, they exercise in intervals before returning to the bench for a quick rest.

The players on the ice then take their shift and soon return to the bench to repeat the process – over and over for the length of the game.

How many calories do NHL players consume?

Due to the spike in calories players lose during practices and games, they must supply their bodies with the needed nutrients during their time off the ice. 

Even during the off-season, these athletes must continue properly fueling their bodies to return the next season fully refreshed and stronger.

On average, NHL players have a calorie intake between 5,000 and 6,000 daily. The average healthy male consumes around half of this, which shows how much extra fuel these professional hockey players require to maintain their strength.

Even with this high caloric intake, NHL players are at risk of losing weight throughout the season due to the physical nature of the sport. 

However, dietitians and trainers are on staff to help ensure the players receive adequate nutrition and calories each day.

Is ice hockey a good workout?

As mentioned, hockey ranks the highest in calories burned per hour compared to other team sports. If you're looking to lose weight, playing recreational hockey can be a great exercise that many people enjoy participating in.

Compared to running or even swimming for hours, many people enjoy the team nature of hockey and find it faster-paced and more exciting. Even if you've never considered playing hockey, it might be fun to check out your local groups and see if you can participate!

Hockey ranks as one of the top exercises for improving cardiovascular health. The high-intensity skating followed by a period of rest is known as interval training. It has been proven to improve the strength of your cardiovascular system and a person's endurance level — which is greatly beneficial to your overall health.

Do Hockey Players Lose Weight During a Game?

Due to the significant amount of sweat that most hockey players lose during a game, they may lose anywhere from 5 to 8 pounds by the end of the night. 

This weight is mostly water, however, so players must drink enough fluids before, during, and after the game.

Players can drink water at the bench once their shift is over, and goalies keep their bottles at their net — as they can't make it over to the bench as frequently as the forwards and the defensemen.

Throughout the entire season, it isn't unusual to see a player lose up to 7 pounds of body fat. This is due to the constant intense exertion that many players face during the gruelling NHL season and the inability at times to rest and recover fully between games.

Which goalie loses 15 pounds per game?

Sergei Bobrovsky of the Florida Panthers is the goaltender that frequently loses 15-20 pounds during an NHL game. This seems absurd. However, most of the weight lost is water weight, and the goaltender can put it back on relatively quickly after a game.

However, if he did not hydrate correctly to ensure the fluids return to his body, it wouldn't be as simple as the weight coming back post-game.

Hockey fitness

Overall, hockey is a great form of exercise and will help keep participants in relatively good shape and improve their overall heart health due to the aerobic and anaerobic nature of the game. Hockey players can burn well over 1,000 calories after a pick-up hockey game at their local rink.

NHL players must be careful to ensure that they're always consuming more calories than they're losing, as it's important to keep their strength up throughout the long and busy season.

Luckily, there are designated personnel on staff to help them do so and to ensure that they keep their body in top playing form.

Ice hockey is a physically demanding sport. Goals, passes, and big saves may look natural for players, but skating and competing on the ice is a legitimate workout. Many players even pursue the sport for exercise.

Calorie burn during any exercise will, of course, be dependent on your age, sex, height and weight. Other factors can include how much ice time you get and the competitive level of your hockey game.

Dan Kent

About the author

Growing up in a hockey hotbed (Calgary, Alberta. And yes, I'm an Oiler fan), I decided to put my love and knowledge of the game to work. I started at five and am still playing today into my early 30s. By acquiring Brave Stick Hockey and rebranding it to Big Shot Hockey in 2023, I plan to teach people about this great game and educate them on the best equipment and history of the game. On a career level, I am in finance, running one of the largest financial websites in Canada, Stocktrades.ca.

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