Friday, December 17

Skiing and eating
By Sharon Howard, R.D., M.S., C.D.E. FADA

If you are a downhill skiing enthusiast, 'tis the season to pray for snow and head for the slopes. As you enjoy your weekend winter playground, you may want to examine your food and drink consumption so you can enjoy the best skiing performance and experience the least weight gain.

Calorie Balance
All that skiing can certainly work up an appetite. There is something about the cold air, the brisk skiing and the inviting lodge that increases the desire for great food and plentiful drink.

How many calories do you expend in one hour of downhill skiing?

If you weigh ... you expend
110 pounds 465 calories
154 pounds 595 calories
198 pounds 720 calories

Not bad for exercise, right? Maybe not. Remember, those numbers reflect one hour of continuous downhill skiing. Consider how much time you wait in line, ride the lifts, stop for lunch and breaks, and enjoy the scenery. You can easily consume many more calories "apres-ski" at the lodge.

Best Food to Eat
Downhill skiing demands spurts of exertion, and, if you are very skilled, endurance capacity. The best foods to eat for optimal performance are high in carbohydrate, provide moderate protein and are lower in fat. Digestion of a heavy meal can compete with your muscles' demands as your maneuver the moguls. And you might not want to end the ski trip weighing more than you did when you started. Here are some suggestions to improve your sports food choices.

Instead of ...

Try This ...


cheese omelet, sausage, hash browns, doughnuts and coffee


scrambled eggs, toast, oatmeal and juice


cheeseburger, fries, apple pie and beer


grilled chicken sandwich, vegetable soup, yogurt and water

Snack Break

candy bar and soda

Snack Break

granola bar or apple, and hot chocolate


nachos or wings appetizer, large steak, fries, salad with dressing, and wine


non-creamy soup, salmon over pasta with garlic sauce, steamed vegetables, wine and water

Alcohol and Skiing
It's very cold on the slopes, so how about a stiff drink to warm the tummy? Bad idea. Alcohol impairs the body's ability to regulate temperature, increasing the risk of hypothermia (and in warm weather, heat stroke.) Energy from alcohol breakdown generates some heat, but alcohol does not fuel the muscles because it is being metabolized by the liver.

Alcohol also alters perception, slows reaction time, reduces strength and endurance, and hinders accuracy, balance and hand-eye coordination. Not so good for the slopes! These effects, plus the reduction in judgment ability, lead to safety concerns. So, a couple of beers with lunch or a round of drinks at the afternoon break can make skiing afterward a dangerous sport, for yourself and others.

When relaxing after the day's shushing, you can slow the effects of alcohol absorption by consuming food while you drink. Carbonated mixers allow alcohol to be absorbed more rapidly. And, although you are celebrating a superb day on the slopes, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and brings you off the endorphin high.

The calories from apres-ski drinking can add up considerably and dehydrate you for the next day's skiing. Alcohol can also increase hunger by stimulating taste sensations and producing a sense of well-being. After a long day on the slopes, it is hard to resist a plate of nachos, or a couple of beers as you wait. But, the skiing may not offset the binging.

item calories
Regular beer (12 ounces) 150
Lite beer (12 ounces) 95
Gin, rum, vodka, whisky (1.5 ounces) 105
Wine, sweet (5 ounces)m 200
Wine, dry (5 ounces) 110
Cordials, liqueurs (1.5 ounces) 145
Mixers (6 ounces) fruit juices, soda 90

Skiing and Dehydration
Although you aren't sweating profusely, you are losing fluid through respiration and perspiration as you exercise in the cold dry air. Drink plenty of water to keep your fitness level optimal -- an exhausted skier is more likely to get injured. Your thirst is not an indicator of fluid needs; you need a glass or two of water for every hour of skiing. Since you are exercising the fluid off, you probably won't have the hassle of increased bathroom breaks. Also, coffee at breakfast will add to the dehydration.

Coffee at breakfast will contribute to dehydration. And here's another reason to hold off on the alcohol -- it has dehydrating effects, as well. Alcohol depresses the production of ADH, a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, which causes water retention. Alcohol causes a loss of body water because ADH is produced in insufficient amounts. Urination increases and that induces thirst, so you have a second or third alcoholic beverage. Here is a tip -- only drink nonalcoholic beverages when you are thirsty. If you do have an alcoholic beverage, have a glass of water before each drink.

To get the most from your skiing weekend, take along fruit, water bottles, healthy snacks and common sense when food and drink are involved. Have a great time!

The information, including opinions and recommendations, contained in this website is for educational purposes only. Such information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. No one should act upon any information provided in this website without first seeking medical advice from a qualified medical physician.

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