Healthy eating has definitely become a 'thing'. But it’s still hard to make smart choices and never more so than when you’re on the mountain! With this in mind, OnTheSnow sought the expertise of nutrition guru and personal trainer Sophie Jane.
Sophie is an accredited nutritionist and a certified personal trainer, with a degree in sport & exercise Science and a master’s degree in sport & exercise nutrition from Loughborough University. She runs her own nutrition and business Sophie-Jane which is all about balance – no quick fixes or fad diets, just enjoyable workouts and delicious health food!
Who better to advise our readers on how best to fuel their bodies for an active day on the mountain?
At OnTheSnow, we’re guilty of eating way too much for breakfast before the first run of the day and of waddling onto the snow feeling uncomfortably full. Bearing in mind what’s available in hotels, what are good breakfast choices?
I know how tempting Nutella on croissant can be in the mornings but we don’t want to go overboard and end up falling asleep on the lifts later in the morning from a sugar crash! Focus on good quality carbohydrates that are slow releasing – things like porridge with berries, Greek yogurt with seeds and fruit, or even some wholemeal toast with eggs would be a great start to the day. The slow releasing energy will help keep you going for longer, both energy and hunger wise.
What do we need from our breakfast? Is protein better in the morning, or, as we’re exerting so much energy, are carbs better? Does it also depend on body-type and what a person is used to eating?
Most people get the majority of their energy from carbohydrate, so it is important to include this in your breakfast. Protein is also great to include to help keep hunger at bay – it is one of the most filling macronutrients, and has the added benefit of giving your tired muscles the replenishment it needs (hopefully it will help with the suspicious post-day-one muscle pain walk!!)
Should someone try and make dietary changes before their holiday?
Getting your body ready for the slopes is definitely a good idea, especially if you’re not conditioned to a lot of fitness. This means both fitness and nutrition preparations. As we all know, the quads (upper thighs) take a big hit during skiing, so aim to build up their strength through squatting exercises and lunges. Support this increased activity with sufficient protein to help build healthy muscles.
Realistically most of us are going to indulge on the mountain. How can we make wiser choices?
Ok, I know you’re on holiday and a few après ski beers will likely be consumed – but to get the most from your skiing, why not try to fuel your body well earlier in the day. Unhealthier choices are often the result of hunger – so try to prevent this by always having a healthy snack in your pocket to have mid-morning.
What are easy swaps that we can make?
Try going for snacks that have a decent amount of fibre and protein. Nuts are a great source of protein, and also have healthy fats that we can use as fuel during skiing. For those with a bigger appetite, you may want to wrap up a bit of wholegrain bread with some ham and cheese for a hearty snack! Dried fruit is also good if you’re needing a quick boost of sugars, but without reaching for the chocolate bar!
Should we stay away from the croissants first thing in the morning?
It depends how many and what you have on them! Three jam filled croissants will likely give you a massive sugar rush and leave you having a crash later on in the morning or day. Whereas one croissant with a small bit of ham and cheese probably won’t do you too much harm!
They say you should eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. What’s a good ratio for a day on the slopes?
To be honest, you’re doing quite a lot of work out there (unless you are one of those who enjoys spectating with a beer in hand!), so I would definitely eat a decent breakfast and have a nice top-up at lunch, but not too much that you feel sluggish on the afternoon runs. The evening meal should be more about recovery (i.e. protein) and a bit of replenishment from carbohydrates, but you’ll handle a lot of your re-fueling in the morning!
What are your feelings about energy-drinks? Can you recommend alternative beverages?
Hmm. I’m not a great fan at all (I get heart palpitations if I go near them!!). If you want a caffeine hit to keep your brain in gear, a cup of coffee or a warming tea will to the trick.
Are people hydrated enough on the mountains?
Dehydration is quite common at altitude – many people don’t get as thirsty. So try not to rely on thirst, instead make sure you’re having some water during every break (even take some in a backpack if you’ll be out most of the day with few stops).
For our readers who really want peak performance on the mountain, what should they be eating and/or avoiding? Is it necessary to stay away from the booze?
Unfortunately, if performance is what you’re looking for, then yes! It’s not only the immediate effects of alcohol on your reaction times, but also the after-effect of the alcohol. You may end up quite dehydrated after a heavy drinking session, and you’re likely to make poor food choices too.
Try too fuel your body with slow releasing carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats, and make sure you don’t forget your 5aday! You also need to focus on drinking plenty of water too - something that is easy to forget on the slopes!