It’s peak winter season and some of us are heading towards the mountains for a good dose of winter sports. An adequate « mountain diet » depends on the intensity of physical activity you plan to have and the altitude of the place you go to. For good and safe fun, ensure sufficient energy intake: you may need to increase your consumption of quality carbohydrates to compensate for the increased energy expenditure and slightly increased metabolism in altitude.
Also, it is always better to have regular physical activity to hit the slopes in good shape, or to prepare the month before with specific exercise (you can find ideas on YouTube). It significantly reduces the risk of injuries.
Start your day with a nutritious breakfast
Unless you are very fit, trained and habituated, don’t engage in intense physical activity on an empty stomach. After a good night’s sleep, help yourself to a warm drink to hydrate, accompany with porridge or bread (better if sourdough and wholemeal for the fibre content, slower release of energy and satiety). Try to vary the grains: wheat, rice, rye, oats… Have some jam, marmalade, honey or butter. You may want to add a dairy or non dairy product such as milk, yogurt, cheese.
A piece of fruit will reduce the oxidative stress, provide vitamins and minerals helping you fight the cold and the risk of muscle cramps.
If you have been on the slope since 8 or 9am, you may want a morning break. It will be important to hydrate: in altitude, we feel thirst less, yet we lose significant amount of water through perspiration and breathe because of the exercise and altitude. Have a hot drink like tea or herbal tea to keep you hydrated and warm, maybe with a piece of dark chocolate, dry fruit or nuts.
Avoid alcohol which dehydrates, it increases the risk of chill burns, decreases attention, reflexes and coordination.
A light lunch to recharge your batteries
If you plan to continue skiing, snowshoeing or any other physical activity in the afternoon, avoid meals that are too heavy and rich in fats. Choose food that are easy to digest and good quality carbohydrates such as polenta, pasta or rice with a light sauce, vegetables, maybe lean proteins. A bowl of soup with a good piece of bread will provide energy and liquid, you also can make your own sandwich of lean meat, cheese and veg.
You may treat yourself to a glass of wine, but leave the raclette and fondue for the evenings or snowy days, otherwise you will feel lethargic on the slopes!
What to pack?
Hydration is essential, take a bottle with you, filled with water, hot tea or herbal tea, fruit juice diluted in water etc. Interesting snacks include dry fruits, nuts, (wholemeal) bread, dark chocolate. A piece of fruit will provide water and nutrients.
If you feel tired, have a warm drink with sugar, but don’t take risks and stop if you feel it is too much.