By: Brad McNally
Endurance athletes often calculate for their needs before a big race. We’ve all seen the cyclist with his jersey stuffed full of energy gels, but does anyone really need that stuff? Extreme heat can cause the body to burn additional calories, but it is often forgotten that cold increases the metabolic rate as well. According to an article about nutrition on Active.com, snowboarders should aim for about 200 calorie intake per hour of continuous boarding. This might sound like a lot, but could be accomplished rather easily using a wide variety of sports nutrition products.
The simplest option is to pack a few protein bars and consume one in between runs on the lift or when you take a break. Most any sports nutrition will have a wide variety of these to try, but make sure you find out what you like before you get out on the slopes and are stuck with it. Another suggestion is to try to consume warm drinks between runs to help keep your body temperature up as well. This might mean packing a thermos in the gear you bring or stopping into the lodge for a hot chocolate. Making sure you have a steady intake over the day will keep you from hitting a wall late in the afternoon.
Hydration is often drilled into the head of warm weather athletes, but it shouldn’t be written off for snowboarders at all. When you are out in the cold, you often don’t think of hydration coming up. Feeling thirsty during any activity generally means you are already beginning to become dehydrated, so this is your body asking you to fix the problem. At this point, slight dehydration can be causing your abilities to degrade as well. Since your body doesn’t feel hot, you may not even notice for a longer time than usual.
Intake of fluids while boarding is absolutely vital, and there are a few easy ways to accomplish that. Ideally, you should aim for between four and eight ounces of fluid for every 15 minutes of activity. Stopping every few runs and playing catch up is one way to do this, but it is far easier to bring along a hydration pack. These backpacks include a bladder that can be filled with water and a tube that connects from the bottom of the pack to your shoulder area on the strap. A quick bite on the end of the tube gets you water without slowing you down. Remember to look for a pack that includes an insulated shell and tube cover so it won’t freeze on you in the cold.
Staying hydrated and nourished isn’t hard with a little preparation. Luckily, most boarding happens near a lodge, so if you have forgotten you can run in and get something, but for more remote locations it is vital to plan ahead. Before you throw your gear in the car, drop a few protein bars in your ski boot bag or snowboard boot bag and you’ll be sure to have something when hunger hits later in the day.