Ski and Snowboard Season Nutrition

It’s 1:30 in the afternoon on a bluebird day. Fresh powder on the ground and I70 is blocked. You and your friends have the mountain to yourself, but you’re still tired….Maybe you’re tired from the beer and fries at lunch? You knew you should have had another Red Bull. Think again!

Let’s talk about the beforehand. How many times have you been told to really focus on carb loading before a workout? It’s time to change that mindset and stop justifying the drive through on the way to the slopes. Did you know that delicious McGriddle is 430 calories? Coupled with a hash-brown (150), you’re looking at 580 calories, 50 percent of which come from fat. This is not even including the “healthy” part. That wonderful landfill destined cup of nutrient packed orange juice. At 190 calories and 39 grams of sugar, your blood sugar will spike. Releasing a rapid surge of energy followed by a deep crash. Forget hitting those late afternoon tree lines. Or grabbing the last pockets of untracked snow. More than likely you are seeking an energy drink to drive back to Denver, the hot tub followed with more empty calories or sluggishly fighting off the cold and attempting to squeeze a few last minute day redeeming runs in. Let’s change the way you eat, and end the day strong.

First of all, forget the age old saying that “ski calories are free calories.” According to Harvard Medical School a 155lb person burns 446 calories per hour while a 185lb person will burn 532. Albeit, that is for time actually spent riding. Not sitting on the lift, resting in the lodge or tailgating by your car. For the best time in the mountains, treat the day like any other day in your nutrition/exercise routine. If your goal during the week is to eat 500 calories less a day to lose weight, but you consume an extra 2,500 calories during your ski weekend. Are you really going to reach your goal? There may be more calories hidden in that delicious lodge meal than you think. Maybe many more. A new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found that 92% of large chain and local restaurants contain more energy than is considered necessary for a single meal. With many meals averaging around 1,205 calories. Or even worse, American, Chinese and Italian meals averaged 1,495 calories. Add in three Blue Moons at 170 calories and you can undo your entire week’s gains.

Instead let’s focus on stabilizing your blood sugar and eating a more nutrient dense breakfast filled with complex carbs (carbs with protein and fiber) and healthy fats to sustain our energy levels. Avocado, eggs, oatmeal, whole grain toast and cereals are all good pre-powder day fuels. Don’t forget to pack snacks. Our body is smart, so it’s important to listen to those hunger cues. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Dried fruit, jerky, nuts, peanut butter etc. are all good foods high in healthy fats and protein to fuel you throughout the entire day. As a rule of thumb, eat quality food more frequently throughout the day and in smaller portions. Enjoy it as you do. Taking more time to chew and allow your body to acknowledge its own signals regarding hunger cues.  Another added benefit of cutting back on excess sugar is reducing your risk of diabetes.

Lastly, let’s talk about water. Water does more than alleviate the night before. While it may be tempting to just drink coffee on your I70 drive. We can be honest, nobody wants to have to lose their place in traffic due to unexpected stops. However, staying hydrated helps lubricate the joints and flush out inflammation. As a general rule, you should strive for half your body weight in ounces prior to factoring in physical activity. For example, a 180lb male should consume 90 oz of water per day as a baseline. Then, add 8oz for every 20-30minutes of exercise and another 8 ozs for each beer at lunch. Not to mention, those unexpected stops you were hoping to avoid on the way to the resort, will only be compounded by those drinks. Alcohol not only dehydrates you, but also acts as a diuretic. Here comes the Georgetown visitor’s center calling.

Enjoy your time in the mountains. You earned it. But don’t completely undo your prior weeks’ hard earned gains. If you are looking to kick it up a notch this year, check out the Ski and Snow Sports Conditioning class at Rocky Mountain Flex Fitness.