Ski Food and Nutrition

Rosie Smith is a nutritionist and helps ski chalets to write a hearty and healthy menu for their guests. She is currently working with Skiology and here she tells Yodel why food is such an important part of your ski holiday.

Before your holiday…

To make sure your body is in the best condition for ensuring you get the most out of your ski holiday, consume a healthy balanced diet. You will need to have optimised energy stores before the start of your holiday so you get the most out of your ski holiday.

During your holiday…

Your skiing performance whilst on holiday will be affected by several nutritional factors. Firstly, as something we tend to forget about when we are on the slopes, hydration is key to delaying the onset of fatigue – something we all experience during a hard days skiing. Not only do you fatigue quicker, the all too familiar mid-afternoon dip, but being dehydrated can affect your concentration which is crucial for negotiating your way down a slope – whatever level of skiing you may be at. But who feels like drinking whilst on the snow?!

Being at altitude means the air is drier so we exhale more water when we breathe. Being out in the cold, we generally don’t tend to think about taking on fluids during a hard days skiing. Combined with the notoriously inaccessible bathroom facilities on the mountain we simply don’t consume enough fluids – and no not the alcoholic kind! Lastly, if you don’t consume enough food and therefore energy during the day then you won’t have the energy to ski as well as you could or ski for as long as you may want to. Carbohydrates are the main fuel used by the body when skiing. If you don’t consume enough carbohydrate, then your muscles will have diminished energy stores, in the form of glycogen.

With sub-optimal energy stores, your body will become fatigued much easier and quicker, which will directly affect your skiing performance. In addition, carrying heavy equipment and the effect of altitude altering your metabolism, your overall energy requirements will be increased.

So what should we eat?

Firstly, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and even more so when you are going to be spending a day on the slopes so this meal should not be missed. Try to base this around carbohydrates; a warming bowl of porridge will release its energy slowly throughout the morning compared with a bowl of cereal or toast and jam. Try adding stewed, fresh or dried fruit to your porridge to include 1 of your 5-a-day. A glass of juice also counts as another portion (no more than 1 glass counts as a portion in a day) and will contribute towards your daily fluid.

Alternatively, a cooked option such as scrambled eggs on toast is a good healthy choice. To keep hydrated during a morning of skiing, try and plan in a quick pit-stop mid-morning for a hot chocolate or tea using this chance to have a snack and top up your energy levels. Good snack ideas are dried fruit, which are easy to take with you; a pancake with chocolate and banana or a cereal bar. If you have a backpack then take a bottle of water with you or even fill up your camelbak if you have one.

For lunch, again base this on carbohydrates such as potatoes or pasta or bread to top up fuel stores and energy levels to set you up for an afternoon of skiing. A bowl of soup and a baguette; tartiflette and pasta dishes are the kind of foods to have at lunch and are nice and warming. Remember to include some vegetables in your lunch, whether it's a side salad or vegetables or a vegetable soup to provide essential vitamins and minerals. Don’t forget to take on some essential fluids to keep you hydrated and avoid fatigue.

Once back in your chalet after a days skiing, thiswill be a key window of opportunity to replenish your energy stores so a slice of cake; bread and jam or a piece of fresh fruit in the afternoon are good foods to enable fast recovery. Of course don’t forget a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate to top up fluids! Remember, fluids don’t have to be in the form of plain water, they can be any liquid such as soft drinks, tea and coffee (in moderation) and even soups contribute as well. What you eat during dinner won’t have a major impact on your skiing performance or energy levels. However make sure you do eat something to make sure you have re-fuelled in preparation for the next days skiing. If you’re enjoying a fair amount of the apres ski and nightlife, make sure you have a big glass of water before you go to bed to help prevent dehydration and your performance the following day.

What would the perfect menu look like…

It should be something both balanced and nutritious while at the same time being something that you actually want to eat! You are on holiday after all! Some dishes I’ve recommended for this year at Skiology include:

  • Savoie diot stew with lentils instead of potatoes - the lentils act as a complex carbohydrate, giving a slower burning energy.
  • A Pyrenean bull fighters beef stew - beef is hard to digest but when it is slow cooked this makes the fibres and meat tissue easier to digest and the nutrients are released quickly.

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