Of all the things we can do for our overall health and performance, sleep and nutrition will arguably have the most impact. How we fuel ourselves has a tremendous impact on us. Especially if you get “hangry” like me! Understanding how food fuels us and what we can do to better prepare for a day on the slopes can make our experience that much better.
If you eat well balanced, whole foods, you generally don’t have to worry about vitamins and minerals as they are found in the macro nutrients.I might be going out on a limb here, but understanding what types of food groups there are is the first step. For some, this may feel a bit too simplified but for others, it may be an eye-opener. When it comes to food we have both macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients (where a majority of our claoric intake comes from) are as follows:
Our Micronutrients are:
Foods can fall into either one macronutrient category or have a mix of them. To start we will cover some of the things the fall into one category.
Some types of Cheese
Grains (quinoa, couscous)
Root Vegetables (Sweet Potatoes, etc)
The list above isn’t comprehensive but it at least gives us a starting point. Some foods can fall into a mix of things. A good example are dairy products. Depending on what they are you could have quite the mix of protein, carbs, and fats. Some more balanced than others. If you’re trying to decide what a specific food is, simply look at the label and read what the nutritional content is. Whatever has the majority of the macronutrient, that’s what it would fall under. At times we see people confused thinking that peanut butter is a source of protein. Although it has protein in it the overwhelming majority of calories are coming from fat. Same goes for black beans. Yes, they have protein in them but their carbohydrate content is far more than their protein.
So what do we do with all of this? First, don’t over complicate things. If this simple blog gets you moving in the right direction with a small understanding of food and what it can do for you I believe it’s more important than our performance. Try to eat real food. Shop the perimeter of your grocery stores. Stay away from the processed foods that are in boxes or bags. In short, if you have to grow it, pick it, or kill it to eat it, chances are you are doing all you need to maximize your health for the short and long term. Focus on those quality foods and cooking your meals. Now that I’m done with my rant on what food is how can we use it to feel like a rockstar on the hill!!
Foods that are higher in fat will also help provide more caloric content which means we can have more of a sense of feeling “full” as well as energy.
You can carry the “snack” option with you while on the hill and fuel up before and after. If you’re out there all day, stop in the lodge and try to get a bit of a larger meal if you’re feeling like you need it. For some of us, you may do just fine, feel good, and perform well with the addition of the snacks with the food choices we mentioned above.
Nutrition can be a sensitive topic for some. I’m not here to judge you and what you’ve found works well but YOU are your own lab. You can’t argue with eating real food vs. processed food. It’s no match. When it comes to the types of real food we eat that’s where you may need to do some experimenting. Try taking some foods out of your diet for two weeks and see if you feel better, the same, or worse when you reintroduce them. You can learn A LOT about this. Try different times of the day to eat, different amounts, etc. Give it two weeks at a time and don’t over complicate things. If you find something that is working for you with your health and performance all moving in the right direction stick with it. Hopefully this provides us all with a bit of insight into how we can fuel ourselves and what it can do for us.