Whether you ski, run, hike, or snowboard, it’s important to note several key nutrition concerns when training in the cold or altitude. Fluid, energy, and iron needs are all increased at altitude and below freezing temperatures. Follow these simple nutrition practices during winter sports training to optimize health and performance.
Maintain Proper Hydration
Fluid requirements are increased in colder climates as greater respiratory water loss occurs, increasing urinary output. Yet, we tend to consume less fluids to prevent frequent bathroom breaks, and as a result of lack of sweat for a visual reminder to stay hydrated. Some tips to keep you hydrated for long days outdoors in the cold include setting a phone alarm for a reminder to consume fluids, as well as storing a re-usable water bottle in your backpack, and making frequent water breaks to ensure proper hydration.
Increase Iron Intake at Altitude
Training at altitude increases iron needs, especially if iron deficiency anemia is already a health concern. Even if anemia does not present a problem, diets rich in iron help carry oxygen to your working muscles which is a great performance enhancer regardless of altitude. Try including iron rich foods like beef, eggs, lentils, tuna and beans in your daily eating and pair with citrus foods to enhance iron absorption.
Fuel Up with Nutrient Dense Foods
Winter sports are physically demanding, and your body requires extra energy to stay warm. Consume small, frequent snacks to fuel metabolism and generate body heat and try hot drinks like tea and hot cocoa to stay warm while out in the cold. Bananas, trail mix, nuts, jerky, and protein bars are great portable snacks to pack for the slopes. Look for high protein bars with less than 12 grams of sugar per serving.
Maintaining a healthy diet and staying hydrated is important as ever when training in cold weather and at altitude. Be sure to follow these simple tips to maximize your performance and optimize health when participating in winter sports.