Explore Big Sky
Dec. 13-26, 2013 29
Preparing to ski: What you may have overlooked BY EDWARD M. DAVILA RIDGE PERSONAL TRAINER
With winter here, many people are preparing for another ski season, acquiring new gear and starting ski-conditioning programs. However, a major component that’s often overlooked is nutrition. Adequate nutrition and hydration before and during skiing can have huge impacts on ski performance and safety.
requirements. Research shows that when temperatures are low enough to cause a shivering response, carbohydrate utilization increases to maintain core temperature. Further, with increasing altitude, there is a shift toward greater utilization of blood glucose, both at rest and during exercise when compared to sea level. Without nutritionally accounting for this, carbohydrates quickly become a limiting fuel source for skiing and, in turn, accelerate the onset of fatigue. This becomes important since low amounts of this fuel source may predispose a skier to injury, particularly late in the day. Fat is important as an energy source during submaximal exercise, but researchers indicate carbohydrate utilization, particularly in the cold and at altitude, is of greater concern. Athletes also need adequate protein intake to preserve lean body mass and aid in recovery.
Consuming carbohydrates 30-45 minutes prior to skiing may help maximize glycogen stores and help delay the onset of fatigue during extended periods of skiing.
There are many factors to consider when preparing for ski season. Altitude, temperature, skiing discipline, hydration status and energy expenditure can all influence ski performance and safety. Energy requirements across winter sports vary. Alpine skiers can burn anywhere from 45-55 kcal/kg/day, whereas cross-country skiers report even higher energy expenditures – the highest of all winter sport athletes. Consequently, macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins, along with hydration status before and during skiing, are important considerations during the ski season. Cold exposure alone has been shown to increase energy expenditure and, as a result, energy
Fluid balance during skiing also plays a crucial role. Researchers have found that altitude, thirst suppression in cold weather, and increased body temperature with sweat production during skiing may all contribute to dehydration. In 2006, a ski
study by Montana State University’s Dr. John Seifert and colleagues reported that dehydration may adversely affect cardiovascular efficiency, extend recovery requirements and reduce muscle blood flow. As a result, ski performance and safety may be compromised. Adequate nutrition and hydration strategies should be implemented to optimize ski performance and safety. Consuming carbohydrates 30-45 minutes prior to skiing may help maximize glycogen stores and help delay the onset of fatigue during extended periods of skiing. To maintain ski intensity and prevent dehydration, skiers are advised to ingest items with carbohydrates and electrolytes in intervals of 30-60 minutes. Foods should include easily digestible, carbohydrate-rich sources such as gels, sports drinks or bars. Furthermore, the addition of approximately 15-20 grams of protein has been shown to enhance muscle repair and rebuilding, both of which are critical for recovery. Edward Davila is a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist and Certified Health Fitness Specialist at the Ridge Athletic Club. He enjoys bridging the gap between science and practice to promote health, performance and education.