It’s that time of the year when we tend to eat, drink and be a little too merry. There’s a remedy for working off unwanted calories when it may be difficult to get adequate exercise. Humans were never meant to hibernate so skiing and snowboarding are a viable solution.
A handy calorie counter on a site called Captain Calculator will tell you how many calories you can burn per hour for skiing and snowboarding and also cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Calculations are based on weight and activity intensity.
Burning off unwanted calories is only part of the equation. Good nutrition and hydration habits during participation is equally important. They are basically the same as general nutritional guidelines – eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats (unless you are a vegetarian), plant sources of protein and plant-based fat and some carbos.
Depending on your ability, skiing and snowboarding can involve quick bursts of exertion to turn or stop followed by a quiet period on a lift ride up the slopes. Sliding down a snowy mountainside and staying warm outdoors in winter requires fuel. Overall activity can last from a couple of hours to several. It’s important to be well fed and hydrated beforehand, and to maintain both throughout the day.
Starting with a good breakfast composed of complex carbohydrates. This provides your body with quick burning fuel and protein for building muscle and repairing tissues. Keep it low in fat, which will make it easy to digest. Note: Try to eat breakfast about two hours before you hit the slopes.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. They provide an excellent source of carbohydrate and antioxidants. These are also easy to pack and carry with you on the slopes. Establish a regular habit of eating and drinking immediately after any activity.
Sample Foods and Meal Suggestions
You may be going skiing or snowboarding for just one day or several. Here are some sample meals.
High Carbohydrate/Low Fat Snacks (no refrigeration necessary)
- Whole grain breads, muffins and cereals
- Hot cereals like porridge (just add boiling water)
- Rice cakes and breads
- Bagels, pita breads, raisin breads
- Tuna or salmon in water
- Jams and jellies
- Juice packs
- Fresh fruits and vegetables; also dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, apricots)
- Plain cookies like digestives or graham crackers
Try to eat at least 2-3 hours prior to activity. Meal should mainly include complex carbohydrates (e.g. hot or cold cereal, grains, breads, fresh fruits, and juices). Avoid high fat foods (e.g. bacon, sausage, and fried foods). Once again, include adequate fluid.
- 1-2 glasses fresh fruit juice
- Shredded wheat cereal with banana and skim milk
- Bran muffin
- Beverage: water, herbal tea, decaf coffee
If you go back out on the slopes in the afternoon, keep lunch light and easy to digest. Avoid overeating. Consider:
- Any type of fruit such as a banana or an apple
- Small sandwich, salad, or wrap
- A granola, power, or energy bar
- A cup of soup or hot chocolate if you are cold
- A sports drink such as Gatorade or PowerAde
Hydration with your fuel – remember to drink plenty of water!
- Skinless baked chicken, fish, or lean beef
- Rice pilaf or pasta (light tomato/vegetable sauces)
- Steamed vegetables
- Fresh green salad
- Whole wheat bread
- Dessert: fresh fruit/oatmeal cookies
- Beverages: skim milk, fruit juice, herbal tea
Replenishing Carbohydrates: Post Exercise
- Cereal (such as: raisin bran) + 1/2 cup skim milk + 1 banana
- 1 Cup Yogurt
- Medium sized potato
- Sports Drink or Bars
- Pasta with tomato and meat sauce
- Fresh green salad
- Whole wheat bread or rolls
- Dessert: fresh fruit, homemade low fat cookies
Beverage: water, fruit juices
A Word About Hydration
Many people do not realize that it is just as important to stay hydrated in winter as it is in the summer. Try to drink at least 16 – 24 ounces of water about an hour before starting activity, small amounts during, and replenish after your activity is over. A sign of dehydration is feeling tired. Maintaining a reasonable hydration level helps add to your endurance and also helps avoid dehydration-induced fatigue.
When outdoors, take a freeze resistant container of water with you so you have a supply handy. If you are skiing or snowboarding on a sunny day in warmer temperatures you may need more water so plan accordingly.
It is easy to forget to drink water when outdoors in the winter. Remaining hydrated will actually help to keep your body warmer and reduce the effects of altitude.