Food For Thought

Rem Pitlick’s Recipe For A Career In Pro Hockey Starts In The Kitchen


Rem Pitlick knows that part of being a high-level athlete is accepting that you can't control everything. But he also knows that what he can control-like what he puts in his body-can significantly impact the type of athlete he is and  wants to become. That's why, for years, Pitlick has made conscious decisions about what he eats.  

Eating well was always a central part of Pitlick's life. His mother, Lisa, made his baby food. His grandparents had a garden, so the family had access to organic produce. Lisa and his father, Lance, were both exceptional athletes who instilled the importance of nutrition in Rem and his brother, Rhett, at an early age.

Growing up, Rem abided by the cliché that everything his mother made was good-with a fondness for her ground turkey enchiladas-but didn't necessarily put much thought into whether or not it was good for him until his teen years.

His mother, on the other hand, emphasized that they kept their meals simple and healthy, setting her children up for success.

"As an athlete, what you put in your body helps your performance," Lisa Pitlick said. "Those are the building blocks for the energy to play and overall success. It's always been a part of our mealtime to have healthier choices, to make meals that are a little bit healthier anyway." 

But it wasn't until Rem attended the University of Minnesota that he found himself taking control of his diet. Inspired in part by Tom Brady's book, "The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance," he began experimenting with different cooking methods, investigating the benefits of various ingredients and working with healthier substitutions.

For the forward from Plymouth, Minn., his food journey is all about longevity-doing everything in his power to ensure his body can withstand the rigors of a long season.

"Successful hockey players, or successful athletes in general, talk about how important nutrition is," Pitlick said. "I have a passion for health that, in a sense, stems from hockey because I want to be as healthy as I can be. Anything that I can do to give me the best opportunity to stay healthy and feel good, I'm going to do."

In addition to his talent on the ice, his skills in the kitchen have certainly paid off. Pitlick, who now plays for the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League, finished his college career by skating in 104 consecutive games, including every game during his sophomore and junior seasons. 

While making the transition from college to the AHL, Pitlick said eating healthy is more important than ever. The 22-year-old keeps his meals simple, in his words, just carbs, a couple of vegetables and a protein, adding spices and herbs for a little flavor. He makes sure he always has food in the fridge to whip something up, shops regionally for the best ingredients and looks for healthy alternatives, like swapping soy sauce for coconut aminos.

Despite having what many would think is a solid grasp of healthy eating, Pitlick admits his diet is still far from perfect. 

"I started off kind of crazy about my diet when I really got into it. But I realized that can sometimes be a stress in itself, so it's constantly finding that balance between what's good and not being too rigid about it," he said. "It's finding what works best for you and understanding that it isn't always going to be perfect."

In order to achieve this balance, Pitlick uses a range of resources to learn more about health in general. Like his cooking, it's all about making the most of the time he has, often overlapping meal preparation with listening to podcasts or audio books to give himself yet another pinch of information to season his growing skillset. 

"If it's important to you, you'll find a way to have the information," he said. "Health is a passion for me, especially knowing how it trickles down into my play."

For his parents, his new outlook on food and cooking shows his determination to be the best he can be. His father Lance, a former NHL player who trains the hockey players of tomorrow, knows the importance of Rem's passion.

"You hope that every hockey player is trying to optimize their performance and recovery and take advantage of things like nutrition to do so," Lance said. 

"For Rem, it's a very big component of being an athlete. He hasn't gotten to where he wants to be at, so he's utilizing everything that's out there to play his best hockey and prepare to play his best hockey. 




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