This past weekend I went skiing for the first time in 10 years and it was great to be back on the slopes. And it also got me thinking about the nutritional aspects of skiing. How many calories does it burn? What is the best meal to have before hitting the slopes? How should you fuel yourself during the day.
Downhill skiing burns approximately 6 calories per kg of body weight per hour. For me that turned out to be 324kcals burned per hour. Granted, even though I went skiing for 6 hours, I was probably only actively skiing for about 3 due to getting suited up, taking breaks, and riding the lifts.
Due to it being a high intensity activity, the body will mainly run on glycogen stores in the muscle and liver. If you know that you are going skiing a couple days in advance you can adjust your diet to “carb load” and make your total calorie consumption comprised of a higher percentage of carbs than usual. Of course always stick to low glycemic foods while you are not participating in an activity.
Also make sure that you are well hydrated as a day of skiing can be quite dehydrating. Winter sports can encourage dehydration as it is difficult to have water on you or nearby. Also, being in the cold can make drinking water unappealing and can even take away your sense of thirst, plus there is the hassle of having to use the restroom. In addition, the body dehydrates much quicker in areas of high elevation.
The morning of skiing, start the day by beginning to hydrate and have a breakfast high in complex carbs which also includes some protein and fat. Some options are a smoothie or steel cut oats. Be sure to bring plenty of water or have plenty of water available to you during the day. Do not wait until you are thirsty but drink at least 8 ounces every half hour. The best way to accomplish this is through a camelpack.
As far as nutrition, I find that stuffing my pockets with protein bars is the way to go. The bars that I utilized on my ski trip were: Garden of Life Sport Bar, Vega Protein + Snack Bar, and the Ever Bar. They all contain adequate amounts of protein (11-20g), sugar (8-12 g), fat (9-13g), and fiber (4-8g). I did not want high amounts of fiber or sugar alcohols because they would make digestion a bit difficult, I also wanted some carbs and sugar but not too much, and wanted to make sure I was still getting my protein in so these all fit the bill.
For dinner after skiing, make sure to focus on replenishing your glycogen stores. This can be accomplished by incorporating some complex carbs like quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or boiled sweet potatoes. Pair it with some other nutrients that you may have been missing over the course of the day like high quality protein, and vegetables. Don’t forget to continue to rehydrate. Approaching a day of skiing with a planned nutrition plan will help you to make to the most of your day on the slopes and recover quickly.