Fridge Raider: Carbs are king for Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop

Thursday December 8th, 2016

All season long, Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop eats carbs. Lots of them. Throughout the day, he hits on bread, pasta, oatmeal—a holy trinity of the hallowed food group. It’s carbo-load, all the time.

So it shouldn’t be a problem for this St. Louis native to feast on the traditional Italian fare of his hometown during the offseason. He should be able to go to The Hill—a famous section of the city known for its Italian eats—to chow down on toasted ravioli and continue his carb love affair. Right?

“In the summer, when you’re not skating every day, you need to watch [what you eat],” says the 30-year-old goalie. “Especially on weeknights, when you want to crush a pizza. That’s the hard thing. Giving up on the pizza.”

Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

But his avoidance of summertime carbs has been a wise choice for the eight-year veteran. Bishop—who, at 6’7”, is the tallest goalie in NHL history—has a career 2.32 goals-against average, and helped lead the Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2014-15. Last season, he led the NHL with a 2.06 goals-against average. This season, Bishop is 8-9-1 with a .274 GAA through 18 games.

For Bishop, being consistent with his eating is a big key to being consistent on the ice.

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Bishop, like many athletes, is a creature of habit. He’s the same way with his meals. On the road or at home, Bishop indulges in the same pre-game eating ritual. He starts with three over easy eggs, a side of berries, breakfast potatoes, ham and wheat toast. This diner staple is usually enough to hold him over until he practices, at around 10:30 a.m.

After practice, he has what he calls a “pregame” meal, but is in reality one in a series of carb-feasts before puck drop. He has gluten-free pasta—he’s not gluten-intolerant, just likes it—and a salad with avocado, cucumbers, chickpeas and tomatoes. It’s his choice before every game.

“I like the meal,” says Bishop. “It’s pretty good.”

Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Bishop will then go back to the hotel or his house for a pregame snooze. Afterwards, it’s back to the carbs—a bowl of oatmeal with some brown sugar on top. He’ll have some coffee as well.

During the game, there’s no food, but a lot of drinks. “I sweat a lot, so I try to stay hydrated as much as possible,” Bishop says. To that end, he has a couple salt drinks and salt pills, along with Gatorade. If the games go particularly long, as they often do in the playoffs, he’ll have a protein shake and Pedialyte.

Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

After the game, Bishop isn’t usually hungry—“I’m coming down from the adrenaline”—but at some point, he’ll make sure to have protein, often a steak.

While Bishop is the picture of healthy eating, it doesn’t mean he isn’t without guilty pleasures. And he admits it. “I love the stuff I shouldn’t be eating,” he says. Don’t get him started on cheesecake—New York style, maybe a few berries if he’s feeling it.

Unlike some of his teammates, Bishop knows when to put the fork down. He mentions J.T. Brown, a 5’10”, 169-pound right wing. “He likes his mountain dew and grilled cheese and cheese burgers.” Worse, says Bishop with a tinge of jealousy, is that Brown has zero body fat.

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But while some of his teammates dive into the pregame ice cream bar, Bishop is disciplined enough to put it aside.

Unless, that is, he has the night off.

“I’ll sometimes indulge,” he says. “It’s hard to pass up.”

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