Food and Well-being in winter activities
To enjoy winter sports, we must take into account some good food habits. This article explains how to modify our eating habits at this time in order to take care of our health, reduce the risk of injury and maintain good sports performance
When it comes to regular physical activity and, especially, when we talk about winter sports (in adverse environments), each person should set realistic goals that take into account their physical condition.
This simple rule, which must also be applied when modifying our eating habits, will avoid injuries and feelings of frustration by not achieving the objectives, thus avoiding the early abandonment of exercise.
Activities in the high mountains, for example, have a series of characteristics that must be taken into account to follow a good diet.
The needs of water, energy and nutrients increase during the practice of physical activity and sport, especially in winter sports. So, we must ensure that they are adequately nourished with food and beverage intake before, during and at the end of this activity.
What do we need to take into account if we are going to practice winter sports
With the cold and the altitude, the energy requirements increase and, in addition, due to the environment, the climate and the relief, the provisions must be adjusted to the weight and space available in a backpack. Hence the importance of good food and beverage logistics, as well as adequate equipment.
The loss of heat in these environments causes the body to react through involuntary muscle contraction, involuntary shivering and decreased blood flow to the skin, thus increasing energy needs. As a reference the energy, for example, of an alpine skier weighing 75 kg, would be around 3,800 kilocalories per day in training periods.
In cold environments, at high altitude and low humidity, the feeling of hunger and thirst is also reduced, while the need for carbohydrates as a basic source of energy is increased. For this reason, it is necessary to become aware of the need to eat and drink in sports days even if it doesn’t feel like it too much and it when it seems like an inconvenience at the time.
The diet of an alpine skiing, backcountry or mountain skiing athlete must be rich in high energy density foods based, above all, on carbohydrates but which at the same time provide proteins of high biological value, vitamins and minerals that help to cover the basic needs and those generated in the training and competition periods.
• Fresh fruits and vegetables like bananas and citrus fruits
• Dried fruits such as dates, figs, dried apricots (dried apricots)
• Nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds
The importance of hydration
Hydration takes on special relevance not only because the sensation of thirst is reduced at altitude, but also because the temperature of the fluids must be adequate to facilitate their intake.
For this reason, measures must be adopted to protect the drink from the cold, such as bags, jerry cans, isothermal backpacks that help reduce the sensation of cold.
Tips when we start in practice
The most important thing is to measure the forces of each one so as not to exceed the limits, as it can increase the risk of injury and be counterproductive to health.
If you are fond of skiing, for example, but it is not practiced regularly or professionally, the diet should be based on plant foods, whole grains, nuts and those of animal origin that do not provide excessive fat or salt. Also, foods rich in sugar and fat should be avoided.
It is not necessary to take any protein, vitamin and mineral supplement, as a healthy diet provides all these nutrients, unless high performance sports are practiced.
And tips when we are moderate and beyond practitioners.
Before thinking about what to eat for exercise, it is important to improve or consolidate good eating habits. If you take exercise seriously, you should seek the support of an expert in sports and physical activity sciences and ask your dietitian-nutritionist for advice to plan an exercise, food, hydration and supplementation plan.
In addition, the diet will always be individualized and, moreover, depending on the type of sport, you must consider preferences, the time spent on training, weight and other analytical parameters.
General guidelines for athletes
• Divide meals into 5-6 intakes throughout the day in competition periods. Similarly, have an adequate and accessible reserve of liquids and energy foods.
• Foods rich in complex carbohydrates will be the basis of the diet. Especially selected in the preparation periods for tests in order to facilitate the maximum glycogen load that the athlete physiologically reaches.
• A low intake of complex carbohydrates can increase the risk of injury and lower performance in sport.
• Proteins, based on legumes, poultry, meats, eggs, fish and nuts.
• The fat component will be provided from:
• Monounsaturated fats: From olive oil as well as other fatty foods such as nuts and fruits like avocado.
• Polyunsaturated fats: From fish, nuts and seeds.
• Saturated fat: From nutritionally healthy foods.
• Fruits and vegetables play a very relevant role in the diet of people who exercise or practice sports as they provide water, rapidly absorbed sugars, key minerals for the muscle and also provide antioxidant vitamins that participate in the immune system and in metabolism.
• It is very important to drink every 15-20 minutes, even without feeling thirsty (before, during and after long-term tests). Always in small quantities and at a comfortable temperature (15-20 degrees Celsius).
• Tea, other infusions, vegetable drinks, broths or isotonic drinks are essentially recommended for athletes.