SKI PERFORMANCE SECRETS
Hint: it's about what you eat.
Proper Nutrition Can Supercharge Your Performance on the Slopes
A good ski specific diet is aimed at helping you carbo load and hydrate. Is there a better way to meet these two dietary food goals than a good craft beer supplemented by pepperoni pizza and a 2-pound chocolate mud-pie? Yes, there certainly is, unless of course you are good with an immobilizing food coma by midday, and the reflexes and agility of someone four decades older just when you are about to launch a cornice into your favorite back bowl.
If you want to dramatically up your ski game through nutrition this winter, you are going to want to look a little further than the typical onion rings and cheese fry focused on-slope fare.
Ski athletes whose livelihood depends on their ability to hit maximum performance in a two to three minute, all out ski run can give us a little insight into which diet choices can help us perform better and maintain high energy output on the slopes. In the early 2000’s, World Cup icons Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso got serious about the advantages of clean diet and speedy recovery and both invested in Winnebagos stocked with everything they needed for a traveling training center. Not surprisingly, this included a personal cook and nutrition consultant.
It’s no secret that good nutrition and recovery increases maximum athletic performance, but the habit of eating right can be a challenge, especially when traveling to ski resorts with all their tempting menu choices, which are typically high in empty calories and high in (bad) cholesterol. Coaches make it a priority to remind their athletes to make good food choices, but keeping them on the right track has always been problematic.
The U.S. Olympic committee now recommends that all athletes follow their Twitter account to get the latest in sport specific nutrition, healthy recipes, supplement information, and easy to follow food plans. Checking the blog on a daily basis helps ingrain the importance of thinking about good nutrition, which is always the first step in behavior change.
Some of the most basic nutrition advice is to keep yourself hydrated with plenty of water. Many experienced ski coaches mandate that their athletes always have a water bottle/“recovery bottle” with them. This reminds them to keep on top of the dehydration curve. That’s why competitive ski athletes ski with a bottle strapped to their belt. Adding supplements to the water bottle also helps with recovery by replacing lost electrolytes.
Here are the top 5 nutrition habit game changers from real ski coaches to help you supercharge your on-slope performance this year:
- Start by drinking a full glass of water every morning—this will rehydrate your brain and set the pattern of drinking throughout the day. Always carry a water bottle!
- Eat easily digestible food early in the morning, such as fruit, juices and oatmeal. Protein powder shakes are a good pre or post workout choice.
- Eating more often keeps your metabolism going and helps avoid the crashes that are common when skiing. Skiers face repeated high-energy output as well as low temps, high altitudes and variable weather, which taxes the body’s thermostat and power output needs. Stash some mid-morning snacks in your pocket such as nuts, bars, dried fruit and trail mix, or other healthy easily packed edibles.
- When traveling to exotic ski locales, beef up your probiotics to strengthen flora diversity in your gut. Good choices include grains, fruits, veggies and fermented foods, yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut and other live culture foods.
- Don’t skip your post workout meal. After a long day on the slopes, your muscles are primed for caloric intake. Missing a meal at this important moment can make you weaker instead of stronger.
It’s been said, “The key to eating healthy is to avoid any food that has a TV commercial.” The best way to keep on track with good nutrition is to shop correctly. The following super foods grocery list will help.
Super Foods Grocery List
Lettuces (arugula, spinach, baby greens, bagged greens, etc)
Sugar snap peas
Cubed butternut squash
Organic cherry tomatoes
Organic sweet potatoes
Free range chicken (if labeled “natural” it means nothing)
Free range ground turkey
Free range sirloin
Wild salmon, halibut, shrimp, etc
Frozen organic berries/fruits (strawberries, mixed berries, blueberries, raspberries, mangoes, etc)
Frozen organic veggies
Frozen meats per above
Ground flax meal
Wild or brown rice
Rice or quinoa pasta
Canned organic, no sugar tomatoes
raw almonds, trail mix or walnuts
Words by Chris Fellows. Chris Fellows and his wife Jenny are co-directors of the North American Ski Training Center (NASTC). Based in Tahoe, California, NASTC offers world-class ski adventures around the planet. See more at skinastc.com.