Most people don’t realize that proper sports nutrition is even more critical during the winter than it is during the summer. Sounds counter intuitive, right? But when you consider that as temperatures drop, your body has to work harder (ie: use more energy) to maintain a safe body temperature, it starts to make sense. Hydration, rehydration and energy are all critical components for maximizing your performance during the winter – be it on skis, snowshoes, the treadmill or in the driveway shoveling snow.
Hydration: It can be difficult to stay hydrated on a daily basis when it is cold out because you just don’t feel as thirsty. This means you’re likely already starting in a deficit when you head out for a workout and may not feel as thirsty during your workout. Additionally, your body loses more water through respiration (breathing) when it is cold out than when it is hot out. To maximize your fluid intake, remember that drinks with a bit of glucose and electrolytes will help your body retain fluid better than water alone. A simple trick to drink more fluid in the winter is to make sure your drink has a light, pleasant flavor that you’ll enjoy throughout the day.
Rehydration: Replenishing fluids after a workout or good snow play session is also very important, for many of the reasons mentioned above. Recovery products that include a mix of protein and carbohydrates are great for helping your muscles repair, but without proper hydration to help digest these vital nutrients.
Energy: Do you typically gain a little weight over the winter? It’s tempting to blame this on a sluggish metabolism, but the truth is that it’s your lack of activity. In reality, cold temperatures can increase your metabolism because your body has to work harder to maintain your body temperature. Shivering uses a lot of energy! A simple way to keep your energy levels topped off during winter activities is to plan ahead and bring easy to digest foods with you. This is when the convenience of our liquid energy gels can be a lifesaver – they take up way less space and give you energy much more quickly than other pre-packaged snacks!
Next time you head out when it is cold (even for an activity that you don’t count as a “workout” like sledding with the kids) try pre-hydrating with a bit of energy drink mix or popping a chewable tablet or 2. You might find that extra hydration and energy to increase your overall enjoyment of winter in general!