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Vail: Perfect ski day menu

Sarah L. Stewart
Daily correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado “-You know it’s going to be a good day on Colorado’s Vail Mountain when you awake to trees laden with white and snowplows rumbling through the streets. But did you know that your perfect day of skiing depends just about as much on what you put in your body as what the snow report says?

During a day on the mountain, most adults should consume 2,000 to 2,400 calories, with women on the lower end of that range, says Vail nutritionist Sally Connelly. But all too often, people use skiing as an excuse to eat junk food ” and all the greasy fries, gargantuan brownies and sugary sodas available on the mountain don’t help.

“I really feel most people don’t eat well on the mountain,” Connelly says. “I think a lot of the food on the mountain is very poor quality.”

Local experts agree that eating poorly can make you feel sluggish ” never a good thing when you’re making tracks through fresh powder. But with a little planning and some willpower, you can navigate the on-mountain diet moguls and eat well throughout your ski day. Not only will your ski pants fit a little better, but you just might ski better, too.

Oatmeal with flax seeds and walnuts

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Whole grain toast with almond butter

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Protein shake with flax seeds

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Two hard-boiled eggs

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Lowfat organic milk

16 oz. water

There’s a reason they call it the most important meal of the day.

“The worst thing you can do is skip breakfast in a rush to get out there,” says Geri Schmidt, nutritionist and Doctor of Oriental Medicine at A Wellness Center in Edwards.

Both Schmidt and Connelly recommend eating at least 15 grams of protein for breakfast to start a strenuous day on the mountain.

“It’s going to take longer to burn that fuel off,” Connelly says.

Drinking water first thing in the morning will help your body stay hydrated from the moment you hit the slopes – but be sure to keep drinking throughout the day, too. Connelly advises adults to drink 80 ounces (10 cups) of water during an intense day of skiing or snowboarding.

Raw nuts and dried fruit

-or-

Energy bar

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Water

Sports drink

To save money and keep your energy up, it’s a good idea to pack some snacks to counter those hunger pangs once you’re a few runs in.

“Eating the correct foods, you have more energy throughout the day and you’re not chasing your blood sugar,” says Louanne Perfetti, owner of Fitness Tactics in Edwards.

By mid-morning, your muscles will appreciate another protein boost, which both nuts and a quality energy bar can provide. Just be sure whatever sports beverage and bar you choose don’t contain high fructose corn syrup, which will give you a sugar rush followed by a crash, Connelly says. (Vitamin Water and Clif bars are two that don’t.)

Schmidt also recommends drinking a warm green tea, ideally with ginger or nutmeg, since these spices tend to have a warming effect on the body.

Salad bar

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Soup

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Rice-and-bean burrito

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Water

Plotting a course through the on-mountain restaurants to find a meal that will pick you up instead of weigh you down can be a struggle. Two key things to avoid: fried and sugary foods.

“All that stuff basically makes you feel sluggish,” Perfetti says.

Connelly suggests heading to the salad bar, where you can load up on vegetables and protein from beans, cottage cheese and tuna. Soup can be a warming pick-me-up, as long as it’s not cream based, she says. Connelly’s personal on-mountain favorite is a rice-and-bean burrito without the tortilla, which provides a complete protein and can be stacked with veggies.

Hard-boiled egg

-or-

Hummus

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Cottage cheese and fruit

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Water

Sports drink

It probably won’t surprise you that cocktails and bar food aren’t what your body craves after a long day of skiing. To help your muscles recover, skip the apres scene and replenish with some quality protein and fluids.

Too often, Perfetti says, she sees clients who don’t eat properly ” or enough ” throughout the day and then head to a bar or restaurant to pig out once the lifts stop turning.

“If (skiers) eat throughout the day, they wouldn’t have that tendency to want to go gorge somewhere,” she says.

6 oz. lean meat

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6 oz. fish

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Salad

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Baked potato

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1 cup rice or pasta

To cap off the day, skip the dessert and alcohol and opt for a dinner that will reward your body for all the turns you’ve made. Connelly’s advice: View your ski day as an opportunity to make good choices about your diet, which will maximize the benefit you’ll reap from a full day’s exercise.

E-mail comments about this story to cschnell@vaildaily.com.


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