These Are the Best Foods to Fuel Your Performance as a Skier
No matter how you ski, you need these nutrient-rich foods to stay energized, strong and satiated.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
A day of skiing isn’t just exhilarating; it’s challenging, especially if you’re pushing yourself and your performance with every run. Most winter sports, really, require an extra boost of energy, increased stamina and, of course, added warmth to keep you running at your best all day long. If you’re wondering how you can fine-tune your performance or simply get an energy boost that’ll power you through an entire day of challenging skiing, there’s one solution. You need to eat the right foods.
What your body requires when you hit the slopes is a mix of two key nutrients: carbohydrates and protein. But which foods are the best at delivering the right combo of energy, stamina and power for skiers? Here’s what you should eat before, during and after your runs.
Think filling, slow-burning foods for all-day energy and strength
Research suggests that the combination of carbs and protein have a lot to offer skiers. These two nutrients can help your energy stay high and your muscles strong, preventing both exhaustion and the risk of potential injuries. But you don’t want to load up on carbohydrate-rich, protein-packed foods indiscriminately.
Instead, you’ll want to aim for both fast-burning carbs and slow-burning carbs if you plan to hit the slopes for hours. Overall, carbs are key to energy. After all, they’re the body’s main source of fuel. And according to research conducted at Mississippi State University, getting plenty of carbohydrates can help improve your stamina and muscle exertion. Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that eating carbs was effective at improving slalom performance, when taken before the first run of the day. Skiers who supplemented carbs saw increased stamina (completing more training runs) and better overall performance (fewer DNF runs).
But you can’t forget about that all-important protein, either. A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggests that when skiers consume a beverage that’s full of carbohydrates and protein while training, they can complete more runs in their final hour of skiing.
And when it comes to spending all day outside in chilly temperatures, research suggests that you’ll also want to think about your energy expenditure. A study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences found that when it comes to winter sports, the environmental extremes – including cold weather – lead to increased energy expenditure, fluid loss, muscle utilization and iron turnover. That means skiers and other winter athletes need to turn to their nutrition to replenish all that’s lost while enjoying their sports of choice. Carbs and protein can help here, both to keep you warm and powered up, but so too can other nutrient-rich foods.
The best foods to eat before, during and after a day of skiing
Whether you’re highlighting key nutrients to power through your runs or want to ensure you eat a well-rounded diet that fuels you properly, the following are some of the best foods you can choose when you’re skiing. Incorporate them from breakfast to dinner, and don’t forget to include them as snacks, too.
Peanut butter (or other nut butters)
If you’ve noticed that some of your go-to skiing snacks all include peanut butter, you aren’t alone – and there’s a good reason this nut butter is so popular. It’s one of the best foods for skiers because it’s chock full of protein and healthy fats, two key ingredients to keep you full and your muscles pumping for hours of tough terrain or challenging runs.
Even a small amount of peanut butter goes a long way. One 3.5-ounce serving contains 22 grams of carbs, 22.5 grams of protein and 51 grams of fat. Most of that fat content is made up of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which make it calorie-dense but nutritionally rich.
Can’t do peanuts? Other nut butters can also offer you a much-needed mix of carbohydrates and protein, plus monounsaturated fats. Almond butter, for example, is lower in protein at just 9 grams per serving but still rich in “good” fats. And cashew butter is high in carbs, which is ideal for extra energy.
Try some of our favorite ways to put peanut and other nut butters to use:
- Peanut Butter Maple Banana Muffins
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bars
- Peanut Butter & Warm Strawberry Jam Quinoa Bowl
Okay, technically smoothies aren’t a food – they’re a whole meal or snack in a cup. These versatile beverages are a great all-in-one solution if you’re looking for a lot of nutritional bang in every bite (or sip). Endlessly customizable, you can load up a smoothie with everything you need to hit the slopes, from protein to carbs to healthy fats to iron.
You can combine your favorite milk, dairy or nondairy, with fruits, veggies and even powders that offer the nutrients you need. Bananas are a satisfying choice that make any smoothie creamy; spinach is another great addition to give your muscles some much-needed iron. You can also add a scoop of protein powder, a spoonful or two of nut butter and carb-rich sweet potatoes. The combinations are endless.
Plus, there’s a hidden added bonus in drinking a smoothie for breakfast, lunch or even a snack. The liquid format allows you to absorb nutrients more easily and faster, as your body isn’t working hard (and getting sluggish) as it digests this meal.
Try one of these smoothie blends to get a balanced meal in a single cup:
Eggs are kind of the penultimate breakfast food – and they deserve their hard-earned reputation, as they’re one of the best foods for skiers. A single egg may be small, but it packs 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of good-for-you fat, iron and plenty of other vitamins and minerals. They’re such a morning staple because they’re filling, versatile and energizing all at once.
And all of these nutrients are exactly what make eggs a great way to kick off your day skiing or training. Adding eggs to your morning means you’ll get all of the nutrients you need for performance, energy and even recovery. From strength to stamina, eggs can deliver. Plus, there are so many different ways to incorporate eggs into breakfast (or even lunch, if you’d like).
To get all the benefits eggs can offer, try one of these recipes before you ski:
- Persian-Style Spinach & Herb Sauté with Eggs
- Pesto Egg Breakfast Sandwich
- Egg in a Hole with Yogurt Pesto Swirl
What can’t avocados offer? They’re great for your heart health, offer up plenty of fiber and can even help you stick with overall healthier eating habits. And when it comes to nutritional benefits for skiers, snowboarders and other winter sports enthusiasts, this small green fruit packs plenty of must-have nutrients.
In addition to filling fiber (a single serving offers you 7 grams) that keeps hunger at bay, eating an avocado in any form also provides you with potassium, monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Avocados actually contain more potassium than bananas, an oft-recommended skiing snack. And you’ll want to have a good dose of monounsaturated fats to keep you properly energized run after run.
Get all of these nutrients from one of our favorite avocado recipes, like:
- Sweet Potato & Bacon Hash with Avocado Crema
- Poached Egg Avocado Toast
- Roasted Chickpea-Stuffed Avocado
Whole-grain or sprouted breads
Fiber helps keep you fuller for longer, and that’s exactly why fiber-rich breads are a great pick for skiers. Whole-grain bread, along with sprouted breads, deliver both fiber and some much-need carbs for a solid balance of energy and hunger control.
A slice of your typical whole-grain bread contains 14 grams of total carbohydrates and about 4 percent of your daily iron intake. Opt for sprouted instead, and you’ll get 15 grams of total carbohydrates and 4 grams of protein. Either is a great choice for a combination of much-needed nutrients for any hardworking winter athlete.
Whole-grain or sprouted bread also makes the perfect pairing for some of the other top foods for skiing stamina and performance. You can top a slice with a smear of your go-to nut butter, a perfectly fried egg (or eggs in any form, really), a few slices of avocado or your favorite carb- and vitamin-rich fruits or veggies. Or, turn these breads into a packable, slopes-ready sandwich.
For some creative and filling combos, try these recipes:
- Whole-Grain Baguette Pizza
- Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart with Whole-Grain Crust
- Whole-Grain Zucchini Apple Bread
Tuna, sardines and other canned fish
Seafood is one of the healthiest forms of meat you can eat. Loaded with good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids plus a whole lot of muscle-building protein, different varieties of fish can help you fill up in all the right ways. And some varieties of fish, like tuna, sardines and other canned seafood, can also deliver a dose of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is crucial for bone health, immune system health and even your mood and energy levels. And for skiers in particular, this nutrient can offer some specific benefits. Research has suggested that increasing vitamin D intake may be correlated with improved ability to sprint and jump vertically, which is key for ski training.
Canned fish is easy to incorporate into mountain-ready meals, like sandwiches or quick dinners after a long day outdoors. Plus, it’s super easy to eat with little prep. Try one of these ideas: