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Nutrition for Winter Athletes

Some athletes may get cold weather on their nerves but some might accept this change happily considering it as a change from exercising in summer’s heat. Exercise should be done with the help of proper nutrition and layers of dry clothing to chase away the winter chills. Metabolism in the body is increased 7 to 10 times than the resting levels while performing an aerobic exercise that is a body temperature can be raised from 98.6° to 140° F.

In summer this heat is dissipated as sweat but in winter this heat helps to keep the body temperature warm. To generate this amount of heat in the body, fuel is required that is provided by the food.
The way one fuels his body in cold will help to perform better and remain safe and comfortable in cold. Proper nutrition helps to fuel the muscle tissue and regulate the body core temperature that normally drops in winter.

It is important to learn the basic cold weather exercise safety, avoid frostbite and hypothermia, and dress well for cold weather exercise. Although water is not lost via sweat in winters, significant amounts of water is lost during respiration. It becomes important to humidify the cold air while breathing, in this process water is lost. Thus to avoid dehydration it is important for winter athletes to consciously increase the water consumption. Replacing fluids in winter becomes more important as the thirst mechanism is reduced in the cold weather causing decreased desire to drink water.

Temperature of foods should be considered in winters, warm foods are prudent choice than cold foods. Although in summer cold foods are best (as they give a cool feeling and help during exercise) but in winters they can chill the body. A balanced meal with high carbohydrate intake is preferable in winters. To replace the carbohydrate stores that are used to keep the body warm and in exercising, it is important to eat continually to avoid fatigue or chills. Children are especially more prone to get fatigue and tired, thus keep handy foods ready like chocolate bars, energy bars, bananas, sandwiches, or trail mix.

Important points to keep in mind

  1. Avoid alcohol completely as it tends to dilate the blood vessels thereby increasing heat loss.
  2. Decrease caffeine consumption. Although a stimulant, it acts as a diuretic thereby further decreasing the water from the body.
  3. Drink plenty of water consciously.
  4. Eat warm or hot foods to stay warmer every 30-40 minutes (100-200 calories).
  5. Include foods high in complex carbohydrate.
Submitted on February 24, 2009