Nutrition and Hydration on the Slopes

Feb 03, 2021 12:00 PM

Leann Bentley

Spending all day on the mountain has its perks, but have you ever experienced that afternoon “bonk”?

When it comes to winter sports, fitness and strength are one thing. But making sure you are hydrated and well-fed is just as important. This is often overlooked, which in turn increases the chance of feeling unusually fatigued and lousy. It could also negatively impact your performance on the mountain.

Sarah Zou, a Registered Dietitian at University of Utah Health, answered questions submitted by members of the Ski Utah community about ways to ensure you are prepared for a day out in the snow.

Do you need to adjust your diet when you go to higher elevations?

In general, a balanced diet is sufficient for activities at altitude. But it’s good to keep in mind that we burn carbs faster at high altitude. Carbs are our body’s preferred energy source, so you may want to include some complex carbs in your pre-ski meal.

How much water should a person drink before they ski or snowboard so they don’t get altitude sickness?

Aim for at least 64 ounces per day. You can use the color of your urine to determine your hydration status—it should be a pale yellow.

Compared to a normal workout, how much more water should a person drink during/after a full day skiing or snowboarding?

About 12 ounces per hour of skiing or snowboarding—more if you feel thirsty.

How can someone best avoid muscle (leg) cramping?

Make sure you’re hydrated before you start, stay hydrated throughout, and consider adding electrolyte powders or drops to your water. Food also contains electrolytes, so having a snack is important.

What are the best powerful pocket snacks?

Trail mix or nuts, protein bars that also contain carbs, PB&J sandwiches—really any combination of carbs and protein.

Any tips for keeping kids from getting hangry?

Be prepared with snacks that easily fit in pockets and try not to deviate from regular mealtimes. When in doubt, offer a snack to your kids—and one for yourself, too!

What is the best pre-skiing/pre-snowboarding meal?

A balanced meal containing a complex carb, protein, veggie, and fluid. Example: A turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with 1 cup of baby carrots and 24 oz of water.

How can someone create a proper eating program to support the exercise from skiing or snowboarding?

A registered dietitian can help you develop a personalized eating plan to meet your health goals. If your focus is on exercise, I’d recommend seeking out a sports dietitian. Call 801-585-7325 to schedule an individual appointment with our Registered Dietitian today!