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Eat Well, Ski Well

Whenever we think about ski holidays, we can almost smell the cheese, wine, hot chocolate and lunch with a side fries. It’s not surprising at all that many of us gain weight while out in the mountains, instead of losing some weight since we’re exercising all day.

Skiing can burn up to 3,000 calories a day, around 1,000 or more calories than the average person with a desk job would burn at home. Although that give us the permission to eat a little more than normal, it doesn’t mean you can pile into 3 large pieces of cake with tea or finish the whole cheese platter.
Skiing makes you use muscles you don’t use in everyday life, no matter how physically active you are, that is why it’s important to eat and drink sensibly to enjoy your holiday and to repair those muscles each night. Don’t forget alcohol equals calories, too.

1.Breakfast Choices
The best time to get the energy needed for skiing is first thing in the morning. In order to ensure you have enough energy to get through the day, you need to eat fat and protein in the same meal because it will slow down the release of energy.
You also need to consume slow-release, low-GI (Glycemic index) carbohydrates such as whole grains rather than white. If you usually avoid carbs, you can get some during your breakfast in the mountains since you’ll be spending the day skiing out in the cold and your body needs proper energy sources.
Granola and fruit, whole-grain bagels or toast, boiled or poached eggs, avocado on toast are all good choices. Even though fruit is a great source of vitamins, it holds fast-releasing sugars, so try not to have the entire fruit bowl in one sitting.

2.What to Eat During The Day
If you are planning to ski in the afternoon, don’t over-eat at lunchtime or you’ll feel lazy all afternoon because your body will be trying to digest the meal. Nevertheless, don’t be afraid to eat carbohydrates at lunch if you’re paying attention to your weight; you can eliminate them in the evening, because a salad won’t give you enough energy for skiing.
Soup with bread, sandwich with nut butter or lean meat, salad with nuts, cheese, fish, meats or beans are all good choices for lunch. Don’t forget that you can always pack your own healthy picnic, like healthy sandwiches made with whole grain bread with lean meat.
If burger and fries are available and you want to have them, have it as a treat and not every day. Don’t drink too much at lunchtime since alcohol can impair your decision making putting you and others at risk, besides it is very dehydrating.
It may sound boring, but the best thing to eat when you come back from skiing is a protein-based snack to repair muscles and reduce soreness for the next day, so have a yogurt-based smoothie, eggs or low-fat cheese or sandwich with lean meats.

3.Wise Dinner Choices
Over eating during dinner can be tempting, but it’s the time to avoid that! Keep portion sizes sensible like you do at home, don’t binge eat bread even if it is very delicious and far nicer than at home.
While it’s important to eat protein when skiing to help repair muscles, it is necessary to limit processed and red meats; best choices are fish and chicken, with plenty of green vegetables and not too many potatoes, rice, or pasta. Go easy on the appetizers before dinner, too.
Don’t consume a lot of food and alcohol late at night; it will affect the quality of your sleep. Both can also lead to skiing mistakes the next day.

4.Snacking on The Slopes
Always keep some snacks in your backpack or pocket when skiing, especially if you have children with you. Keep in mind that even good snacks can be bad for you if overdone.
Go for cereal bars, nuts and seeds, and dried fruits, all of which are tasty and filling but release energy slowly, unlike a chocolate bar that will release energy quickly but lead to hunger half an hour later.

5.Keep Hydrated
Most people are dehydrated in their everyday lives, so combine height, exercise and salty foods (such as fondue) with alcohol and you’re looking at a disaster. Dehydration causes your heart to work harder and will affect your skiing performance, so drink a lot of water. Have a large glass when you first get up (height and central heating is very drying), then have one after breakfast and don’t forget to take a bottle up on the slopes with you.
Keep in mind that caffeine which is found in coffee, tea, and even in some herbal teas such as green tea has a diuretic effect and causes water loss.

6.Alcohol and Skiing
Skiing and alcohol don’t mix that well so save your drinking until later rather than on the slopes. If you ended up having a big night out, eat before you go out and try not to eat everything that is found in your fridge after you get back.
Take things steady the day after if you have overdone it, only do a half to two-thirds of the snowboarding or skiing that you would normally do because dehydration from alcohol plus tiredness after a late night reduces the capacity of your muscles and your concentration, so you’re more likely to fall.

Christelle Bedrossian
Beirut, Lebanon


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Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian