THIS WEEK @RWW - 2/23/03
HEALTHY GOODIES, HEALTHY PERFORMANCE
By Eva Gronowska
Certified nutrition consultant and general manager of Uckele Health and Nutrition Corp., Michael Uckele, visits the Red Wings locker room about once a month with blue bags filled with goodies healthy ones, of course.
Uckele has worked with multiple Red Wings on an individual basis for the past three years. Hes helped players with everything from enhancing their performance with supplements to leading them in the right dietary direction.
Some guys just want to see where they are, if theyre eating right, and other guys really want to know how they can enhance their performance, Uckele said.
About twice a year, and sometimes in between, Uckele takes hair samples, called Hair Mineral Profiles, from Wings that want their metabolic makeup analyzed. From these samples, Uckele can tell how well their body can handle stress, how fast they recuperate from injury, what kind of toxins exist in the body and what their metabolism is like.
Most guys have high metabolisms, but some have lower ones and that can change the entire diet plan, he said. We know that they are high performance athletes and go through large physical and mental strain.
Uckele says players use his products to maintain their body mass, help prevent injuries and to heal faster.
Kris Draper, a long time client of Uckele, claimed that he talks to him a lot about what supplements to take or what kind of food to eat.
I rely on Mike a lot for a lot of information, Draper said. I think after the past couple years its really helped. You know, with our schedule, our travel schedule, you just try to get any edge you can get.
When asked what all the products in his blue Uckele bag did, Draper replied, They lower your toxin levels, your antioxidants and stuff. So you just take that and a lot of that stuff has to do with recovery. It helps you recover and helps you replenish faster.
Uckele said Draper is sometimes a guinea pig for his supplements.
Whenever we have a product that has to do with performance enhancement, I always think of Kris, he said. Even if it tastes bad, hes always willing to give it a shot.
Bad tasting nutrition products are nothing new, but Draper feels you have to make the sacrifice sometimes.
Uckele highly recommends Game Paste for every player on the team, but the taste of the red tubes contents is apparently despicable.
The one in the red tube is terrible, Draper said. I put it in my mouth and wash it down with water right away: Tastes awful.
Another paste, the Excelator, has a slightly better taste and can be used both before games and between periods. Uckele talked about the Excelator in detail, saying that the paste was a combination of carotene, glutamine, a branch of chain amino acids, and of course, electrolytes to maintain fluid balance.
It just makes you feel good, rejuvenates you, Mathieu Dandenault said of the pastes.
I actually recommend that guys take these pastes for practice as well, Uckele said.
Not all of Uckeles products, however, have funny tastes and textures. In fact, just a few weeks ago he brought in a new bar, called the Detour bar, which really turned heads and made appetites flare.
Its just like a snickers bar, Darren McCarty said after trying the healthy treat.
I mean it was better than a chocolate bar, Draper agreed, laughing. That thing is good. Oh my God. I mean, he teased us he brought one down for everybody and we havent seen him since, you know?
The Wings dont get all their nutritional fare from Uckele. There are a large variety of power bars that are stashed in the locker room from other companies as well. The power bars of choice for most guys are the Myoplex and Myoplex Lite bars. Flavors range from banana, to peanut butter, to lemon crisp.
Theres so many different varieties out there and a lot of them now are catered to tasting much better than they used to, Kirk Maltby said.
Jason Woolley used to take a few supplements, like vitamins C and B every so often, but no longer. He worries more about how his stomach feels for a game and sometimes power bars are his saving grace.
I dont like playing hungry and I dont like when I feel too full either, Woolley said. So power bars are good when you dont want to over or under do it.
Uckele puts together dietary itineraries for each individual. Of course each is different, so an apple and a shake before a game may be just right for Mathieu Dandenaults stomach, but it may not be for others.
In the beginning of the year, one of the Red Wings complained to Uckele that he was starving by game time.
He was eating at about noon and ate nothing else going into the game, Uckele said. He was sapping his bodys energy reserves.
Uckele also debunked the idea that eating lots of food high in carbohydrates, like pasta and bread, the day before is good for you.
Its really meal to meal, he said.
Ones body can only store so many carbohydrates at one time. When extras lurk around, then those carbs can turn to fat in a normal person. But because of the high metabolisms of the Wings, it would instead cause their blood sugar level to go up and down too fast.
There are other products that Uckele feels would benefit everyone in the locker room, including Joint and Bone-H, a product Uckele puts on everyones nutritional must-have list. Sean Avery didnt ask too many questions about the product he just takes it.
This is just what they sent me. I think its mostly for prevention, Avery said.
This product is a blend of Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine, which have been found beneficial and effective for cartilage maintenance and repair.
Seans young, and will benefit from it 10-15 years down the road, Uckele said.
McCarty also makes use of Uckeles zinc product. Uckele said that zinc has a wide range of purposes, from reducing inflammatory trends, like controlling high amounts of copper and manganese, to helping bone formation, to maintaining skin, hair, eye, joint and immune health.
There are some guys on the team that dont take the Uckele supplements, but still look to him for advice. According to Uckele, Igor Larionov is very pro-fitness, but very anti-supplement.
Hes set in some ways, but hes always interested in knowing what hes doing right or wrong, Uckele said and smiled. I always tell Iggy that if he took some supplements, he could play until hes 50.
Such is the story with other Red Wings. Maltby tried the program, but couldnt keep up. Taking part, however, made him more conscious of his dietary habits.
By not taking them maybe its helping me try to eat a little bit healthier and make sure Im getting a variety of stuff to make sure Im covering all the bases, he said.
I did the whole process and I took them last year, Maltby recalled chuckling. Its just, for me, I forgot to take them half the time. Secondly, its a lot of pills to take.
Uckele said that most of his products are available to the public, but others, like the Game Paste, are created specially for the players.