Warming food to go
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
Cross-country skiing is an opportunity to burn copious calories. If you're heading out for a big day on the snow, you'll need to pack high-energy edibles.
Cross-country skiing is not only a chance to visit the forest’s quiet depths, but it’s also an opportunity to burn copious calories. If you’re heading out for a big day on the snow, you’ll need to pack high-energy edibles to keep your stride strong.
A break for grub is the perfect excuse to stop and take in the peaceful winter wonderland. Herewith, everything you need to know about staying blissfully nourished out on the trail.
Fuel your body
Few forms of exercise recruit more muscles than cross-country skiing, says sports dietician Monique Ryan, author of Performance Nutrition for Winter Sports (Peak Sports Press, 2005). “This means eating and hydrating properly is critical to performance and overall enjoyment.” Stay strong by following these sage nutrition tips from Ryan.
Gnaw on carbs—often
Carbohydrates are the main fuel source for working muscles, and you’ll be burning a lot of carbs. “It’s probably a good idea to aim for 60 to 80 g of carbohydrate per hour of skiing,” advises Ryan. Breads, pretzels, sports drinks, bars, dried fruit, and chili can all help you get there.
To avoid visions of chocolate bars dancing through your head, take frequent breaks to fuel up. Preventing your energy tanks from draining helps keep you warm while cavorting out in the elements.
“Even though you may not see or feel the sweat, significant fluid losses can occur with cross-country skiing,” says Ryan. The cool, dry air and heavy respiration can further lead to dehydration.
To keep hydrated, Ryan recommends skiers drink 4 to 8 oz (125 to 250 mL) of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes. Sports drinks contain both the water and carbohydrates your body needs. “You can heat up these drinks beforehand and keep them warm in a Thermos,” she says. Apple cider, hot chocolate, and tea can also contribute to your fluid intake.
Packing the right food can make the difference between a blase' outing and a superb one. Here’s an arsenal of salubrious recipes to power your glide and stoke your taste buds.
When it comes to eating, cross-country skiing presents some challenges not seen in other outdoor pursuits sans snow. Here’s how to pull it off with style.
Get a comfortable pack
Choose a backpack to carry your food and drinks that sits well on top of your jacket and doesn’t cause you to overbalance. Consult with a professional at an outdoors store to find the right one for you.
Pack wholesome food
Use a Thermos to transport all sorts of still-steaming, satisfying dishes such as chili, soup, and stews. Label individual containers with tape and a marker, making it easier to identify which beverage or food is in each. In a pinch, extra-large insulated travel mugs can stand in for a Thermos.
Stop to warm up and enjoy your picnic lunch at a ski hut. If one isn’t available, pick a lunch stop on the trail that protects you from freezing winds. If room permits, pack a blanket to elevate you off the cold snow when sitting.
Use your body heat
Keep energy bars in a pocket close to your body to prevent them from becoming rock hard.
Keep liquids liquid
Avoid frozen water bottles by filling leak-proof bottles with very hot water before leaving home. Ice forms on top, so carry bottles upside down to prevent the opening from freezing over.
The more space liquid has to move in the bottle, the better—moving water is less likely to freeze. Leave some of the bottle empty, and place it close to your body to keep water liquid.
Insulated covers designed especially for water bottles or a Thermos will also hinder the deep freeze. Consider purchasing a hydration pack specially designed to withstand subzero temps. A caveat: remember to blow the water back into the bag. If you leave it in the tube it will freeze quickly and block the tube.
Be a green skier
Use reusable food containers and cutlery. Easy-to-pack, foldable bowls and cups such as those from Orikaso (www.orikaso.com) are very handy in the backcountry. Look for them at most outdoors shops. Use cloth napkins instead of paper. Leave only ski prints; pack out everything you pack in.
Follow your excursion with a nutrition-packed meal. A post-ski repast should contain a healthy amount of carbohydrates to replace energy stores and protein to mend worn muscles.