Some nutritional advice for competitive Alpine skiers

The following considerations are related only to athletes in top physical conditions; in case of overweight or underweight, you shall create a personalized diet plan, but still take into account the recommendations below.

General observations

  • The main source of energy should be represented by complex carbohydrates (contained in bread, pasta, cereals and milk) since they burn slowly and give you long lasting fuel.
  • Simple sugars (table sugar, honey, jam, sweets) burn quickly and don't give you very long lasting fuel, but they are good for short bursts. Thus they are very good for pre-competition snacks and help during prolonged competitions. However, simple sugars should always be consumed in small amounts.

It is advisable to eat a snack containing simple sugars (about 1 g glycogen for every kg of body weight) one hour before training or before a competition. Eat another snack every 60-120 minutes during prolonged training sessions or competitions.

  • Proteins should be consumed daily in the amount of 1.0 - 1.2 g/kg (quantities vary depending on whether you practice Alpine or cross-country skiing). About 1/3 of the proteins should come from plant sources.
  • Proteins intake shall be limited immediately before and during a performance at high altitude, since they tend to worsen the metabolic alkalosis caused by moving into high altitude areas.
  • Fats are a useful form of energy storage, but their energy capacity (about double that of carbohydrates) is counterbalanced by a low yield (to burn them you need thrice the amount of oxygen). They should be consumed after a training session or competition.
  • Hydration is fundamental for every form of physical activity, especially at high altitudes, where the body loses more liquids due to the low atmospheric pressure of oxygen, that stimulates increased ventilation. You should maintain the water balance in your body drinking before, during and after your performance, and it is advisable to add salt supplements to your liquids. To favor digestion and absorption of nutrients, drink mainly in-between meals.

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