Food for Sport
If that New Year’s resolution to eat healthier is fading fast, maybe you can get motivated again by planning your diet around your next ski trip to Chamonix? Whatever level you ski at, giving yourself the right fuel for the slopes can be the difference between a sluggish slog and a glide to glory.
Not only will you be expending more energy than usual, but you’ll be doing so at altitude where you’ll need to literally think on your feet. Make sure you’re taking in enough carbohydrates to ward off muscle tiredness, keep your brain sharp and avoid hitting the energy wall.
Top up the Tank
If you’re the type of person who normally skips breakfast, this is one habit you’ll need to break. Your body is your fuel tank and you’ll need to top it up first thing to give you that initial burst of energy. Make sure you have something to kick start your metabolism, even if it’s just a banana or a cereal bar, but a good, hot bowl of porridge is ideal for that slow burning energy you’ll need.
Snack on the Slopes
Skiing at even a moderate level burns at least 300 calories an hour, so it won’t be long before you need a mid-morning boost. Don’t just rely on the re-fuelling options on site, pack your pockets ready with your own energy boosters. Snack bars with less than 10 grams of protein are ideal since you’ll digest them swiftly and they’re less likely to freeze. Packets of dried fruit, berries or trail mix work just as well too.
When it comes to lunch, carbs are still the order of the day. Opt for healthy dishes of grilled chicken, bread, pasta, potatoes and nuts to set you up for the afternoon, but try to also work in some fruit and vegetables to keep your essential minerals and vitamins topped up.
How much water you drink throughout the day is just as important as what you eat. Remember that the effects of altitude may cause you to underestimate your thirst – you won’t feel it until it’s too late. Drinking regularly combats headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath and other altitude effects, keeping your head clear and focussed for the many swift decisions you’ll need to make as you ski, while also lessening any muscle damage. Consider investing in a Camelbak hydration pack, which stores up to 1.5 litres of water and handily straps on under your ski jacket stopping it from freezing.
What you eat after a day-long workout has a bearing on your recovery. Stock up on further carbs, plus protein, fruit, vegetables, nuts and avocadoes to keep yourself firing on all cylinders.
Tempting though it may be to reward yourself after a day on the piste by hitting the bars, it goes without saying that alcohol swiftly undoes many of the benefits of nutritional eating, so try to limit yourself to one or two drinks to feel on top of your world the following day.
For more detailed sports nutrition info, please take a look at NHS’ expert guidelines.