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Dr Jane Read

Dr Jane Read

Medical doctor
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Food to fuel your snow trip

Experts — Posted 18/07/16

Boost your energy, replenish tired muscles and stay well hydrated to make the most of your time on the slopes.

A trip to the snow is one of the most magical winter experiences. Whether it's to ski and snowboard or just to wander and play, the glistening mountains are the perfect place to get active in nature.

The cold weather, higher altitude and potentially intense physical activity mean it's important to stay well fuelled and hydrated, and to take care of yourself and your family. 

Here are some tips for making the most of your trip.

1. Fuel up before you hit the slopes

Nourish your body with a nutritious meal prior to heading out to the ski fields, focusing on good quality carbohydrates that will keep you energised throughout the day. Some ideas include: 

• Porridge and toast

• Banana smoothie

• Pancakes with fruit and yoghurt

• Pizza with low fat topping

• Thick soup with a bread roll

• Sandwiches (meat/egg fillings)

• Fruit bread/English muffins/bread rolls with filling

• Pasta with tomato based sauce

• Baked potato with filling

2. Boost your energy with snacks

Have some pocket snacks with you to maintain a steady intake of carbohydrates through the day, and stop regularly to refuel. Try some healthy foods like:

• Muesli bars or sports bars

• Rice pudding and yoghurt

• Dried fruit and nut mix

• Fresh fruit such as bananas

• Crackers

• Hot chocolate

• Liquid meal supplements 

• Sports gels


"Don’t wait until you're thirsty to have a drink. The combination of altitude, cold weather and dry air increases your need for fluids."


3. Stay well hydrated

The combination of altitude, cold weather and dry air increases your need for fluids. You often don’t feel thirsty in the snow, which can quickly lead to dehydration

At moderate or high altitude, the kidneys play a crucial role in regulating body fluids. The lower oxygen levels can lead to hormonal changes, resulting in more fluid loss through breathing, sweating and an increase in urine production. Making sure you are well hydrated will also help prevent muscle damage and keep you skiing on the slopes longer.

Don’t wait until you're thirsty to have a drink. Carry a small bottle of water or better still, a backpack with a small hydration pack in it. Drink frequently before you leave the lodge and while on the slopes.

Sports drinks may be useful to help you retain fluid and also meet your increased carbohydrate requirements. Warm drinks may also be more inviting in the cold, so stop in at the chalet for a hot chocolate!

4. Be smart with alcohol

If you drink alcohol, don’t overdo it - especially after any injury. While alcohol is very much part of the ‘après ski’ culture, it should never be confused with rehydration, because it actually has the opposite effect. Alcohol is a diuretic, which can lead to dehydration due to an accelerated loss of fluid from the body. 

Alcohol is also a depressant (not a stimulant as some might think) and can impair your motor skills, slowing down your reaction times and reducing your concentration and decision-making ability. All of these skills are vital to keep you skiing at your peak and reduce your risk of injury. Alcohol also dilates the blood vessels, increasing blood flow to injured tissue, which slows down recovery.

Quench your thirst with a non alcoholic drink after a day on the snow to rehydrate. Eat before or while you are drinking alcohol, and alternate alcoholic drinks with non alcoholic drinks.


"Skiing can lead to muscle damage, and good sources of protein and carbohydrates can help you to repair and get back on the slopes quickly."


5. Take care at high altitude

When skiing at high altitudes, there is less oxygen, and therefore the air is dryer than at sea level. This can lead to hypoxia, a condition where there are low levels of oxygen in the blood – which means a poorer supply of oxygen to vital organs in the body.

Low oxygen levels can lead to symptoms including headache, malaise, nausea and vomiting. This is commonly known as altitude sickness.

At high altitude, your need for carbohydrates is increased. This is because when your body uses carbohydrates as fuel, it produces higher amounts of carbon dioxide when compared to fat and protein metabolism. Carbon dioxide production results in an increase in breathing, which increases oxygen delivery to the tissues. 

Carbohydrates are usually stored in the body as glycogen, and these stores are rapidly depleted at high altitudes to keep up with the increased demand.

6. Eat for recovery

Skiing can lead to muscle damage, and good sources of protein and carbohydrates are required to repair the damage and get you back on the slopes quickly.

Protect your health when you travel with Medibank travel insurance


References and more info 

1. Alexander S. Goldfarb-Rumyantzev et al, Nephrology, Dialysis and Transplantation (March 2014)

2. Australian Institute of Sport – Alpine Skiing

3. Vella et al, Nutrients (August 2010)

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Tags   Experts Food Exercise Wellbeing Snowboarding Skiing Travel
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