Food and Well-being in winter activities


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.

Key foods

• 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.

Read More: Why are snacks important?

Healthy food and physical activity, perfect partner to improve the quality of life.


Healthy food and physical activity, perfect partner to improve the quality of life.

The two main factors that intervene in the person’s state of health are genetic characteristics and lifestyle. Most diseases have a genetic basis, but the individual’s lifestyle is the factor that determines what pathology he may develop over the years. In Europe, most of the main causes of death correspond to chronic diseases directly related to the lack of change in behavior associated with lifestyle, which the individual can control.

Behaviours that represent a danger for the preservation of health are considered risk factors. Two of the main ones, with the greatest negative influence on chronic pathologies, are sedentary lifestyle and inadequate nutrition.

Physically active people enjoy a higher quality of life, because they have fewer limitations that are normally associated with chronic diseases and aging; they are also benefited by a longer life expectancy. By improving our lifestyle, we reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer, the main causes of mortality in humanity.

Physical exercise increases psychological well-being and improves our mood, reinforces self-esteem, generates self-confidence and increases self-control.

It is important to promote the practice of physical and sports activity at all ages, since it implies positive changes in personal well-being, immediately after having done some type of sport. It is proven to reduce anxiety and depression problems.

Physical activity and sport are synonymous with health, expressing values ​​of life, joy, desire for progress, freedom, and movement, to share, to socialize, all these aspects are enrichment both personal and group.

Therefore, in the psychological field for all people, physical exercise is essential.

What recommendations should be considered before starting regular physical activity?

The fundamental recommendation is that before starting a physical activity training plan, visit your doctor for an exam and thus obtain a certificate of fitness for the beginning of a physical activity. This evaluation is carried out by specialized cardiologists. The evaluation consists of a complete physical examination, blood and urine tests, and an electrocardiogram. The exercise stress test or exercise test is a fundamental diagnostic technique that is used mainly for the diagnosis of angina pectoris in patients with chest pain and to assess the response of the heart to exercise.

When we do physical exercise, what eating guidelines should we take into account?

The pre-workout diet should be based on foods rich in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein. This will prevent delaying gastric emptying and diverting blood flow from the muscles to the stomach and avoid an upset stomach.

Food should contain little fiber and fat, which avoids discomfort in training. The tolerance time of the last meal prior to physical activity is individual, although there is a general indication that 2 to 3 hours prior. Consume 200 to 400 ml of an isotonic drink with a carbohydrate concentration no greater than 7-8%. During training it is suggested to continue consuming 100-150 ml of drink at 15 min intervals during the first hour of physical activity. It is important that the athlete choose the drink that best suits his taste and flavor.

To replenish the body’s carbohydrate reserves after exercise, a key element for all athletes, during the first 6 hours after physical activity, which reduced glycogen reserves (muscle reserve HC), foods rich in HC are recommended high glycemic index (maltodextrin – glucose – ripe banana – spaghetti – orange juice). The glycemic index is a system that allows the “quality” of the different carbohydrates contained in individual foods to be compared, and provides a numerical index based on measurements of the blood glucose after ingestion. After this important period, you can incorporate foods with moderate glycemic index carbohydrates in your normal and usual diet.

Many athletes, especially those who want to sculpt their body, follow a diet based on protein consumption. Are there special recommended diets depending on the type of sport practiced or the result you want to obtain?

Yes. There are diets, although it is appropriate to call them a “specific food plan”, which are applied according to the type of sport and according to the objectives that an athlete sets. Among the meal plans, are those based on a higher percentage of protein in the intake (hyperprotein diets) and low percentages of carbohydrates and fats. This type of eating plan aims to stimulate the consumption of fat and carbohydrate deposits that the body has, obtaining a faster weight loss than a balanced eating plan, and an increase in muscle mass if it is doing exercises. It is important to take a medical check when you are doing this type of protein diet to avoid eating imbalances.

How long do you have to wait to digest depending on your physical activity?

The appropriate time that is suggested is about two or three hours, since food takes, on average, four hours for its digestion in the small intestine, and if we exercise too soon we can suffer, in some cases, stomach pains , nausea, vomiting, dizziness and even cramps, due to the contraction of the muscles and the extra need for oxygen.

Is there the famous “digestion cut”, which prevents us from getting into the sea or the pool immediately after having eaten?

Hydrocution, or popularly “digestion cut” (an inappropriate term, since it is not at all a failure of the digestive process), is a thermodifferential shock (temperature difference) characterized by a syncopal state caused by abrupt contact with cold water, which triggers a reflex called the immersion reflex (the heart rate decreases and the most superficial vessels contract), which causes an inhibition of breathing and circulation, generating a cardiac overload that causes, in some cases, a cardiorespiratory arrest.

As we know, food digestion increases blood circulation in the stomach and duodenum that are processing it, thus reducing the blood supply to the rest of the body

Then yes:

the water temperature is below 27 ° C.

we have been exposed to the sun for a long time before bathing.

we have performed very intense exercises or physical work, with great sweating

we take psychotropic drugs

we are right after a hearty meal

A reasonable waiting time of 1 to 2 hours after eating or exerting is recommended. Other recommendations, which are common sense, and that will help to avoid sudden changes in body temperature, is to gradually enter the water and not do a very intense exercise before bathing.

Read more: Dates, the best allies of the long-distance athlete