Your Mountain Meal Menu: What you should eat to keep rockin the slopes all day long

Posted By: Selma Al-Faqih on April 19, 2010 8:59 am

Skiing and being a foodie go hand in hand because skiing all day can afford you your pick of caloric heaven.  That’s a lot of happy spoon-licking >>>

Consider that the average person burns about 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day.

Meanwhile a 150-lb downhill skier burns approximately 460 calories per hour. During a five-hour ski day, that skier burns 3,900 calories. And an all-terrain skier burns even more. That leaves a lot of room for (goody-goody!) eating just to maintain weight.

But what should we eat?

Who isn’t interested in the latest headline about food? “Top 5 super foods.” “17 fishes you MUST eat every day.” “14 Vegetables that are killing you.” We love food and we love reading about food. We love pictures of food. Wondering what a skier should eat before pursuing a day of frolic? Marathon runners “carb” it up with $20 pasta plate parties the night before a race. Longtime runner and coach Hal Higdon eats two sweet buns the morning of a marathon. Um, yum.

The buzz on skiers and eats:

Oh how we love and thankfully need our calories. Have you tried Alpine ski racer and Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsey Vonn‘s now-famously Facebook-ed “low-fat banana bread recipe?” It’s a great recipe, loaded with butter, sugar, and old bananas. Cut to Homer Simpson; “Mmmm…old bananas.” Note: her banana-bread body is beguiling as one of this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit models.


Did you know gold medalist Bode Miller was brought up in a family that grew all their own food? He has been a life-long vegetarian and has his own organic farm in New Hampshire. His farm, Turtle Ridge, grows an organic variety of award-winning crops in the summer like corn, tomatoes and artichokes.  So we know what he eats.

Shaun White (along with Lindsey Vonn and Seth Wescott) is on the Wheatie’s box. According to the Wheaties website “new research suggests that a 100% whole-wheat flake cereal, plus non-fat milk is effective for rebuilding your muscles’ glycogen stores to keep your muscles fueled for your next activity.” Your muscles need protein soon after you torture them. Trainers will often suggest to people working out double their protein intake to help repair and build muscles. You probably also know that an overabundance on sugars will take you way up and then way down .  The idea is to eat happily, not become a glutton. Seth Wescott>>

Here’s the absolute hands down biggest issue on the slopes:




It’s something you might be good about off the slopes. But 50% of skiers reported that they don’t think much about it. It’s an issue that’s big enough to warrant a seminar at the 2010 NSAA (National Ski Area’s Association) Conference: Hydration.

It comes up again and again; skiers aren’t great about hydrating. And staying hydrated at high altitudes while you work every muscle in your body all day is more important than you know. Altitude alone dehydrates. The website High Altitude Living reports: “At 6000 feet above sea level, you exhale and perspire twice as much moisture as you do at sea level. Over the course of a day, that can make a difference of a quart or more a day. At higher altitudes, it gets even more pronounced.” NSAA just published an article in which 2000 people were surveyed about hydrating on the slopes. About half of them said they don’t drink much water during the day and doctors and nutritionists see this as a big problem.

Dr. Robert A. Johnson, Chief of Palliative Care at Kaiser Medical Center, Walnut Creek, and an avid cross trainer, is well aware of the significance of under hydration. Research has clearly shown that “dehydration can reduce aerobic endurance” which could increase the likelihood of an untoward, avoidable accident on the slopes. Low water index means low energy people! You want full throttle up there, we know you.

The signs of dehydration you should look out for: Lack of perspiration, dizziness, nausea, headache, insomnia, irritability and fatigue. Alcohol and caffeine are diuretics, which can lead to dehydration. Sipping water throughout the day, rather than slamming a bottle all at once will do better to keep you full of fluids.

<< The author’s grandmother, giving you a look that says, “you didn’t eat your Wheaties, you didn’t eat your vegetables, and you didn’t drink any water. How will you shred safely?”  She is dissappointed in you, believe me.

You can’t rehydrate by simply having a glass of water at lunch. A lot of skiers reported consuming alcohol at the end of the day, with practically no water intake at all. Thunder Jalili, Ph.D. an associate professor of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports Science, has been skiing since he was 14. He suggests you drink at least 16 – 24 ounces of water before you start out.

What’s best on-plate after off-piste?



Pre-Ski: Along with your water at breakfast, choose iron-enhanced cereals and berries, breads, little bit of protein and consider some nice clean plant-based fat; monounsaturated fats from olive and canola oils, olives, avocados, almonds, filberts, pecans, cashews, and pistachios. All bodies are different, and most people who are into skiing all day know what works best for them. Some want a big old flapjacks n’ eggs and some want grains and yogurt. In general, you want carbs and not a lot of protein. Avoid fruit juice, as that can lead to dehydration. If you’re going to be out all day, don’t overdo it on the cheese or sugar. Eat what you know your body can digest easily. Carbohydrates, for example, spend the least amount of time in the stomach, while protein stays in the stomach longer, and fats the longest. If your body is working to deal with what you just put into it, you will drag.

Whilst-Ski: The extra weight of heavy clothing and boots can increase your caloric expenditure by 5-15 percent. Snacking is encouraged by many nutritionists during a full day of skiing. Eat nuts, chocolate-y things and sugar for a lift on the lift. Dark chocolate with 60 percent or more cocoa content has a great rep for Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3′s fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development. O-3′s are found highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for memory and performance and behavioral function and they reduce inflammation. Trader Joes makes two awesome chocolate bars that have no sugar, but you have to watch how much Maltitol (a sugar alcohol) you eat. Maltitol is a laxative. They even have a warning on the bar, and, let us tell you, they’re not kidding.

An enthusiastic blogger who can’t bear to leave the pow for lunch claimed the perfect ski pack included a Red Bull, a Power Bar, and a banana. You ski your heart out, and come lunch time you put your now frozen Power Bar inside your coat to warm it, drink your cold Bull, and then eat your yummy now-warmed bar. Before your last run, you help your body start healing by “potassium-izing” it with the banana. Then you drink a Pow Pow beer and soak in a hot tub. Sounds super.

Order up!  What to munch at lunch:



Lunch-Break: Include carbs and maybe protein at lunch. Lunch might include a salad to help with minor dehydration, lean meats, fish, soy products, beans, eggs and nuts. Again, no over-eating here, you don’t want to get sluggish. You also don’t want to over do it on the fiber. There are a lot of trees out there, but you’re also wearing a lot of layers. Why risk it? Drink your water and avoid soda and coffee, which will dehydrate you further.

Iron-rich foods help skiers to avoid cramping, which can be an issue for many Skiers. Spinach, right? Well, kinda. Spinach does contain a great amount of iron, but it also has an iron inhibitor, ( so eat foods with Vitamin C to help absorb the iron:


Iron enhancers:

Fruits: Oranges, cantaloupe, strawberries, grapefruit

Vegetables: Beans, lentils, chickpeas and soybeans Broccoli, brussel sprouts, tomato, potato, green & red peppers

Drink: White wine (you knew alcohol had to have it’s up side!)




Après-Ski: Ok you’ve earned it. It’s dinnertime and you’ve burned hundreds if not thousands of calories.  Grab yourself the biggest veggie burger you can find.

Vegetables will help replenish vitamins and minerals.  Artichokes and asparagus have potassium, iron, vitamin c, vitamin k (for bones) and fiber, which is safe to eat now. Eat good proteins to help your tired muscles, and you have certainly earned dessert.  Alcohol is dehydrating, decaf tea is surprisingly, hydrating! Shaun White reports on his Facebook wall that shrimp and beef always make it a party.  He also has a picture of the locally famous “Sprinkles” cupcakes.  Oh Shaun, you have excellent taste.

Of course, a light dessert of mixed fruit accompanied by a white chocolate dip hardly denys you a full-filling-feeling.

Eviro-Ski: Since many skiers are environmentalists, ecological factors can weigh in. The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health suggests we go meatless on Mondays. According to their website, just one day a week without meat can reduce your consumption of saturated fat by 15% and reduce your chances of heart disease. Scientists estimate that if every American lowered meat consumption by just 20%, it would lower greenhouse gasses as much as if everyone in the country switched to driving the Toyota Prius.  So pet a cow!

Side tip: Avoid sleeping pills, which decreases respiratory rates and lead to oxygen shortages.

Ok so what do we know?

1. You’re going to burn a lot of calories so you foodies can really live it up.
2. Drink water, more than the average skier. This means you.
3. Eat your Wheaties- Iron-rich foods have cramps-stopping-power. With strawberries for Vitamin C.
4. Protein will build muscle, so double up if you want a little extra bulk.
5. Dessert is really good.
6. Banana’s featured strangely heavily in this article. Don’t you want one? Right now?

Sample-Ski Menu: Oats and peanut butter in the AM, a banana on your last slope, steak or spinach salad with an orange garnish, decaf tea, then a hot tub with a dark chocolate and banana bread dessert.

Tell us your must-haves in the comment box below!