Whether you are going skiing, snowboarding, playing ice hockey, or performing other various outdoor activities, it is extremely important to be properly fueled and hydrated for the winter conditions. Staying adequately hydrated and fueled in the colder weather is just as important as in hot weather. Regardless oft he weather conditions, your body is still perspiring and losing water and electrolytes. This is especially true if you are covered in several layers of warm clothing!
Check out these tips to properly hydrate and fuel up before, during, and after your exercise in winter conditions:
Consume a light meal or snack along with fluid prior to exercising outdoors is important to provide the energy you need for the first 60 minutes of your event. A “pre-workout”meal or snack could be anywhere from 1-4 hours prior to your event, and should contain mainly carbohydrate-rich foods combined with a touch of protein. In addition, at least 16-24 ounces of fluid should be consumed during this time, with an additional 8-16 ounces consumed within 15 minutes of starting the event. During the winter months, it is perfectly appropriate to consume hot beverages and meals to fuel your exercise. For example, sipping on hot tea with honey, water with lemon, or hot cocoa (made with water or milk) can provide the fluid and/or carbs we need to fuel the body. If something warm to eat is desired, a broth based soup, oatmeal, or fresh scrambled eggs and toast could do the trick.
For exercise lasting longer than 90 minutes, it is imperative to consume fluid, carbohydrates, and electrolytes (namely sodium) during your workout. If you go too long without food or fluid in colder conditions, dehydration and fatigue can occur. It is recommended to consume 8-10 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes of activity. In order to meet your energy and carbohydrate needs, it is recommended to consume between 30-90 grams of carbohydrates per hour of activity. If you can consume a carbohydrate rich snack that also contains sodium that is an even better bang for your buck! Examples include gels, sport beans, pretzels, granola bars, salted fruit, or trail mix (dried fruit and salted nuts).
After a long day of exercising in cold weather conditions, it is always important to refuel your body! Refueling the body post-workout is necessary to repair, recover, and rehydrate the body. It is recommended to consume a snack/meal that contains both carbohydrates and proteins in a 3:1 ratio within one hour after the workout ends. Again, if the body is trying to warmup after a day of cold and windy conditions, choose a warm beverage or food. Chocolate milk is an ideal post workout recovery drink, but there is also nothing wrong with making hot cocoa with milk! In addition, warm foods such as oatmeal, hot soup, and chili have an ideal combination of carbohydrates and protein to recover the body effectively.
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Ashley Acornley, MS, RD, LDN is sports dietitian at Triangle Nutrition Therapy Inc She has an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and a Masters degree in nutrition. IN addition to being a Sports Dietitian, she is also a Personal Trainer. She teaches competitive athletes ways to fuel and hydrate to optimize sports performance and maximize health