Nutrition is always important, especially when competing in vigorous sports such as skiing. With proper hydration and the right food intake, skiers can improve their mental and physical abilities.
One important nutrient essential to an athlete’s muscle contraction and bone strength is calcium, especially for females. It is suggested to avoid drinks such as soda or coffee because they deplete the store of calcium. Foods such as cottage cheese, broccoli, spinach, tofu, salmon, peanuts and orange juice are adequate sources of calcium. Iron is also an important nutrient especially for female skiers, which can be found mainly in animal products.
Water is always an essential aspect of any diet. Dehydration plays a roll in performance and can decrease muscle strength. Combining water with a protein/carbohydrate gel can also be helpful in recovering lost energy. World famous skier Lindsey Vonn states, “Whether you’re on a long flight or a puddle jumper, the most important thing is to stay hydrated. It’s a bummer you have to buy a bottle of water in the airport but completely worth it.”
One common myth about nutrition is having a high intake of protein. A popular diet called the Alpine Ski Diet supported a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet became popular in the 1970s. Unfortunately, a high-protein diet does not provide enough energy for skiers and the diet proved unhealthy. Nutritionist Nancy Clark explains to USA Today that athletes require carbohydrates for refueling energy, but protein for rebuilding muscle. Complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, pasta, fruits, grains and legumes are specifically beneficial. Fats also give insulation for the cold weather.
One must also consider the different levels of energy spent. Hal Higdon who wrote a book called “Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide” and a marathon and cross-country skier, believes that complex carbohydrates should make up 55 percent of a Nordic skier’s diet. In general, Nordic skiers require more calories than a ski jumper or a downhill skier.