Steep Shots: The right stuff takes the right fuel

Ski writer Emily Palm fuels up for a day at Keystone in this week's edition of Steep Shots.

Tips on maintaining your slope stoke all day long

By Emily Palm

Last week before heading up for a day dedicated to Keystone’s Outback, I ate my usual breakfast of multigrain toast and almond butter. Come noon, after a morning of looping through the trees below Outer Limits and skating the flat runout back to the lift on shoddily waxed skis (make sure you really scrape the excess wax off, I did not), I realized my body was cruising to bonk.

Luckily I had one of those Nature Valley Granola Bars they pass out at the base of the ski resorts in my pack (unluckily, it had been there for a couple years and well past the “Enjoy By” date). Usually I try to bring a string cheese stick for a snack, but had forgotten that morning.

This led me to thinking about the optimal pre-ski breakfast, so I consulted my good friend Stefania Kozial, a registered dietician in Denver.

“Your breakfast of almond butter on toast was actually a good start, but maybe it wasn’t enough,” she said, noting that the almond butter contains some good fat and the multigrain toast has complex carbohydrates. Fats take longer for your body to break down, thus providing a longer-term fuel source and the fiber from the toast leaves you feeling fuller longer. She recommended adding some more carbohydrates.

In general, an appropriate pre-exercise meal consumed 3-4 hours before exercise is high in carbohydrate (200 grams to 300 grams), moderate in protein, low in fat and fiber, and comfortable and familiar to the athlete, according to the American Dietician Association. They recommend eating one gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight (or 2.2 pounds) if you have breakfast an hour before exercising. For example, my 140-pound frame would want about 64 carbs, or about 250 calories worth. That means I should have eaten two pieces of toast.

Kozial, who usually eats a breakfast burrito before hitting the slopes, suggested a burrito in a whole-wheat wrap, veggies, and egg whites or fruit with walnuts and yogurt. Also it’s helpful to bring a carbohydrate snack such as a granola bar, she said, “So you get that quick burst of energy back.” (It’s easier for your body to digest carbs.)

The American Dietician Association recommends that when exercising for longer than an hour, the athlete should consume carbohydrates at roughly a third of a gram per pound of body weight, per hour (usually 30 grams to 60 grams per hour). Thus, I should have swiped two of the single-wrapped granola bars they hand out at the base, and eaten them on the lift after my first hour of skiing.

Nourishing the body post-ski is also important. Kozial said athletes should eat within a half hour of completing their workout (or ski day, in our case). It should be something easy to digest, with carbohydrates. For example, chocolate milk.

How about that après beer? “Ha ha, beer might be a carb, but also might dehydrate you,” Kozial laughs, adding that she enjoys a post-ski brew, but makes sure to couple it with ample water.

Telemark skier and freelance writer Emily A. Palm Mulica lives in Golden, Colo. Check out her Web site at www.EmilyPalm.com & follow Twitter.com/SteepShots. Share with her your favorite joke at emily@emilypalm.com .

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