Fresh air, beautiful scenery, physical activity are all the things we love about skiing holidays – not to mention the hearty, delicious food and après ski! If you’re hitting the mountains this season, it’s important to think about your diet, as well as your fitness while you’re out on the slopes. Here, GPnutrition talk us through the best food choices for your ski trip.
Skiing is great for staying fit and active in the winter, but the hours spent on the mountain can drain your energy stores and dehydrate you.
In a typical day you can burn up to 3000 calories. This has huge cardiovascular benefits and also requires nutrients and oxygen to be delivered to your muscles. Beyond dressing appropriately and learning proper ski/boarding technique, nutrition will play an instrumental role in maintaining energy levels and optimizing muscle performance. Here are our top tips:
Blast off with breakfast
Start the day with a balanced breakfast. Exercising in the cold means your body needs fuel. Choose a substantial breakfast combining slow release, low GI carbohydrates with protein. Good choices are: porridge/oats with nuts, berries and bio-yoghurt, eggs on rye toast with avocado or a continental breakfast of cold meat, rye bread and fresh fruit.
There’s no question that a day on the slopes can be both exhilarating and exhausting! Take snacks with you (especially if you are skiing with children) to keep blood sugar balanced and energy levels topped up throughout the day. Good, portable, mess-free options are trail mix or dried organic fruit such as apricots, dates and figs with walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts or a banana for slow releasing energy.
Keep lunch light
Although it’s important to keep up your energy on the slopes, try not to overeat at lunchtime. Watch portion sizes and choose fibre rich options which fill you up without leaving you bloating and lethargic. Where possible choose ‘brown’ slow release carbohydrates, wholegrains, beans, lentils and protein with a healthy portion of vegetables (cooked or fresh). Although it can be hard when there is only one choice at the top of a mountain, try to watch out for too much white bread, crepes, brioche and cheese!
Enjoy a warming drink
Hot cocoa is a favourite on the slopes – for a reason! Milk is high in protein to help refuel muscles and calcium which is an important nutrient in exercise. Why not try caffeine free chai tea, rich with aromatic spices such as cinnamon, cloves and cardamom with a dash of milk as a warming alternative to chocolate.
Stay wise with water
Keep hydrated throughout the day. If you are able to, take water with you. And let’s not forget about the evenings! Après ski is all part of the fun but make sure you drink enough water alongside alcohol.
Dehydration will affect your performance, especially at altitude, which can make your hangover worse. Dilute fresh juice with still or sparkling water as a refreshing drink.
Kickstart your body’s recovery process by eating something within 30 minutes of your last run on the slopes. In the evening, aim for a balanced meal including carbohydrates and protein (with a ratio of 2:1) and remember to drink plenty of water. Turn to ingredients that are high in protein and iron to support muscle recovery. Try one of these healthy, balanced meals at the ski chalet to recover fast.
- Start with a soup. It’s both filling and warming.
- Order a bowl of chilli, which is high in protein, with a brown rice or baked potatoes and a piece of fruit for carbohydrates.
- Look for high quality protein like lamb, beef, chicken or fish with chickpeas or lentils served with root vegetables for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Fill up on fibre.
Exercise before you go
Skiing is physically demanding, especially on your legs. Therefore, it’s a good idea to strengthen specific muscles before you hit the slopes so you get the most out of your holiday. It is recommended that you incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises into your normal workout routine or do them regularly at home in the run up to your holiday.