Snowboarding puts a lot of demands not just on your body but also your mind. You have to make sure you’re fully prepared, your board is waxed and your backpack is packed and you’re snow-ready. Then there are the physical requirements of the sport and the expectations of injuries. But what many snowboarders don’t realize is that good nutrition is probably the most important part of that preparation. It doesn’t matter how old your board is or whether or not you’ve packed a shovel, if your energy and nutrition levels are off, you’re going to do badly up there and hurt yourself.
What Do You Need?
Snowboarding tests your endurance and engages your thighs, calves and core for hours on end. It demands excellent balance and responses and all within heavy clothing and boots designed to contain and constrict. After a few weeks on the hill, you will notice changes in your body. Your muscles will grow, but only if you’ve been feeding them right, while your feet and ankles become sinewy. In addition, you’ll notice some aches and pains. Some of these will be from muscle building and some from dehydration and mineral and nutrient depletion.
To make sure you’re in good shape to take on the park, the hike up the ridge and riding through deep snow, you need to pay attention to your carbohydrate and protein-rich food intake as well as minerals and B vitamins and stay well hydrated. While you’ll also need to consume plenty of vitamins, these are stored in your body longer, and if you go without a glass of orange juice every day for a week, you won’t be low on vitamin C. In short, most of the nutrition shortcuts you can buy from a store concentrate on vitamins and protein, but these won’t do you much good. So how do you plan your day’s food to make sure you get your nutrition?
Breakfast Like a Snowboarder
In the normal world, breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but on the mountain, if you pull back the curtains to reveal a fresh dump and blue skies, you’re not going to sit down to eat. Still, you’ll need a good meal inside you, and the best way to go is with muesli. One snowboarder favourite is the overnight muesli invention, which is even quicker. Simply take a clean jar, fill it with grains, nuts, dried fruits and seeds, stir in yoghurt and put it back in the fridge until morning. This Birker muesli invention is popular in Austria and gives you a fast breakfast perfect for wolfing down before hitting the slopes. You won’t even need to find a bowl.
Energy gels are all the rage in sports shops, but quite frankly they’re a waste of money. These mountain convenience foods claim to be healthy but have roughly the same nutritional quality as a packet of gummy bears. On the mountains, there are plenty of easier, cheaper and more wholesome ways to get a quick sugar boost. Put a handful of nuts and raisins in a bag in your pocket for on-the-go snacking or wrap up a leftover croissant. Avoid taking a banana or really any fruit with you. You’ll need to put these in your backpack to stop them getting squashed and this means unstrapping to get something to eat.
If you’re in self-catering and want to watch your pennies, making a packed lunch is the way to go, and it’ll help keep your nutrition on track too. In many resorts, food shops close over lunchtime to force you into expensive restaurants, but with a little planning, you can eat well al fresco. Rice and pasta, bread, beans and vegetables give you what you need and can be packed up easily. Last night’s leftovers or a door-stop cheese sandwich should see you through a few more runs.
A big part of snowboarding is socialising, and stopping for a small beer is to be expected. Be warned, however, that beer on an empty stomach will soon leave you ravenous and less inclined to cook dinner. This is when the pizza delivery boy or guy behind the kebab counter starts to look attractive. But back away and head straight home for Spag Bol, egg-fried rice, oven chips and burgers or a tuna and egg salad. These snowboarding staples are quick to make and nutritious and, most importantly, full of calories. Dinner is often the meal of the day on the mountains, and you should embrace the home-cooked dinner. It'll also help cut down on your drinking time.
What to Drink
The most important thing here is staying hydrated and not drinking too many diuretics such as caffeinated, alcoholic and high-sugar drinks. This means going easy on the beer, coffee and orange juice as well as energy drinks. Look out for a camel-back water carrier for easy sipping throughout the day. And while avoiding alcohol altogether may be out of the question, we can’t stress enough that you should leave it for the après ski. More snowboard-related injuries happen inside the bar than outside it.
What to Avoid
As a general rule, avoid junk food and anything which comes in a packet. Super noodles are easy and fill you up but will do nothing for you. Likewise, crisps and chocolate will leave you weak. There are also some food hacks for when injuries strike. Bananas are a great source of potassium to prevent muscle cramps in the feet and calves. For those who can’t stomach water, try diluting apple juice to keep your fluid levels up.