First of all, I’m noticing a pretty direct correlation between the amount of class work I do and the lack of posts I write. But I’m fixing this! I don’t do a whole lot of Q&A on my blog, but when I get a lot of the same questions emailed to me I figure there’s something people want to know. And this time, the questions are all basically “so what do professional skiers eat, anyways?” I don’t feel like any part of my training is a big secret, so I don’t mind sharing what I think.
Keep in mind, I’m not a Registered Dietician, and kind of like when you watch a movie with the commentary: the opinions expressed here are my own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the whole USST. That said, I’ve spent enough time asking questions of RD’s that I feel I know what I need to know when it comes to refueling. And a lot of this is really personalized. For example, I am mildly lactose intolerant and growing worse every year. So I avoid milk and go for the soymilk instead, and take a LOT of calcium pills to supplement. I’m not saying that everyone should turn their backs on cows and only drink soy and almond milk, I’m just saying that’s what works for me. So when you’re reading this, think about what parts can apply to you and your life and what parts you might not need.
I don’t follow any sort of a strict diet; basically, I eat when I am hungry, and I try to get a good balance of all the food groups. Shockingly simple, right? Gotta love it. For example, here’s the meal we had the other night: Simi cooked us up a ham, pepper, goat cheese and basil frittata, served with fresh bread and a salad with cut up apples and avocadoes in it. It was delicious, in case you’re wondering. It tasted fresh, and it had all the food groups in there: grains, protein, fruit, veggies, fat, and dairy (or as I like to think of it…calcium, since goat cheese is lactose free). Basically, there are no “bad” foods, and everything fits…in moderation, of course. Even carrots will make you feel super sick if you eat too many (and you’ll probably turn orange).
For a skier, often training twice a day, it can be a little challenging to make sure you stay fueled up and don’t “bonk” or “hit the wall” during a long session. That’s why I usually have a snack in the afternoon and/or right before I go to bed, to top off glycogen stores. I carry sports drink with me on workouts, and usually a bar. This is where being sponsored by Power Bar totally ROCKS. But lets be real…during a long ski, what you need is quick-absorbing glucose, or sugars. And while sport gummies taste awesome and often have a shot of caffeine in them (WHOO) regular Haribo gummies do the same thing. Your body doesn’t know the difference. The sports drink thing is a big deal though, especially if you sweat a lot. If you just drink water, you’re not replacing the electrolytes you lost. So drink up!
And the timing of food matters a lot. After a workout, you have a 30 minute window where, if you get a snack and hydrate well right away, your muscles can repair faster with that fuel then if you wait. I try to get a mix of carbohydrates and protein right afterwards, so that might look like a Power Bar, or an apple with peanut butter, or half a turkey sandwich, or bread with any sort of nut butter, or anything really. You get the idea.
Dessert? Yes, of course! I’m in this sport for the long run and not having dessert for 15-20 years would be downright depressing. Seriously. Again – there is a place for everything, in moderation. Fast food? Yes, when I’m in a hurry and actually need the food FAST. But I actually enjoy the process of cooking a delicious meal; I tend to appreciate and enjoy a well-cooked meal more than something a stranger flipped onto the fryer. And possibly got their hair into. But whatever. There’s nothing technically wrong with fast food, as long as you can get a balanced meal…which, depending on where you go, can be possible.
Last but not least, lets talk iron. This is especially directed towards girls, but guys can have really low iron stores as well. If you’re an athlete and have never gotten your iron checked, you should, and ask for your Ferritin (a number showing your stored iron), not just your Hemoglobin. If your iron is too low, you might already know because you’ll be feeling really tired for no apparent reason. But you can take iron pills or liquid iron to get your levels up, and it’s definitely something not worth overlooking. Personally, I’ve been struggling for years to get my iron levels up and keep them up. So I look for iron-rich foods and take iron pills or liquid iron every night. Yum (just kidding…it tastes foul).
Hopefully this post was informative for those of you asking questions! Now it’s time for me to go back to writing a paper on the developmental milestones of babies. Hmm.