True or false? Avoid eating during an effort to limit intestinal discomfort
False, but true!
It all depends on the type of physical activity performed. For example, if it is a very intense activity of short duration (sprinting, fast running …), eating food during the activity could affect your physical performance. However, a less intense and prolonged sport, such as cross-country skiing, requires a sustained intake of nutrients to allow you to maintain a stable level of energy throughout the activity. Here are some more tips to help you understand the nutritional challenges of long-term winter sport, such as cross-country skiing.
Light, but nourishing
Maintaining your blood sugar level is still an important factor in ensuring a constant energy level. What could be worse than getting tired in the middle of your hike! Of course, the foods eaten before will have an influence on your athletic performance. But it is just as important to “fill” your wasted reserves, especially if the activity lasts beyond an hour. The consumption of carbohydrates is therefore essential, since carbohydrates remain the best source of energy for the human body. Homemade muffins, chocolate milk, easy-to-eat fruit (apples, pears, grapes), or granola bars can be eaten at the start of the hike. Keep them in a pocket of your coat, since your body heat will prevent them from freezing.
Save snacks that are less likely to freeze for the end of your cross-country ski trip:
- Dried fruits (dates, cranberries, grapes…);
- Whole grain crackers;
- Snack cereals.
Finally, forget about heavy and difficult to digest snacks: chocolate bars, store-bought fatty muffins, chips … Often easily accessible, these treats are far from ideal for keeping your energy level at its best. Reserve them for special occasions.
Are you hungry?
The best way to know how much and what to eat on a hike is to test! Foods containing protein (nuts, cheese sticks, peanut butter toast …) could be useful. Indeed, proteins allow you to satiate (appease your hunger). That said, proteins require more digestion work than carbohydrates: it’s up to you whether consuming them affects your performance or not. If you are doing a less strenuous cross-country ski tour for fun, chances are good that small amounts of protein aren’t the problem. But if you’re racing, it might be best to save the protein-rich foods until last, to help you recover better.
Hydration is the key!
Have you noticed that you tend to drink less during winter sports, given the less presence of sweat? It has also been shown that thirst is less well received in very cold temperatures. However, your body loses a lot of water during a cross-country ski tour: cold air, wind, and even light sweating all increase fluid loss. The risks of dehydration are therefore just as present as when jogging in summer. So while it is important to snack on light foods during long cross-country ski tours, it is essential to stay hydrated! This will allow your body to give you the energy you need to continue your hike.
As a bonus, when your body is well hydrated, it allows your body temperature to be better regulated. For a dose of comfort, brave the cold with hot drinks, such as hot lemon water, hot apple juice, fruity herbal tea, or broth. Bring them in a thermos that you can hang on a backpack or your snowsuit. Back at the chalet or at home, you can enjoy a delicious hot chocolate without remorse.
Ah! The pleasure of winter sports …