Snowshoeing Nutrition: Starches

“Plant-based diets are naturally high in the most healthful forms of carbohydrates, helping athletes maximize glycogen stores, and allowing for harder work for longer periods of time.” ~Brenda Davis, RD

One of the benefits of eating whole, unrefined, nutrient-dense foods pertains to its low impact on your digestive system and other biological functions.

Regular consumption of nutrient-dense whole foods supports cellular regeneration. This process is crucial for every aspect of health and vitality. Enjoyable snowshoeing depends on this process being sound.

High net-gain nutrition is the key—not calorie consumption guidelines. Net-gain refers to the usable nutrition the body is left with once food is digested and assimilated. High net-gain eating eliminates excess work for your body. Less energy is required to digest, assimilate, and utilize nutrients.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) requires your body to expend almost as much energy to digest and assimilate food as it has available which results in extremely low net gain. This is a losing proposition. Most people consume grains in the form of flour. Most of the commercial products represent the flour that was stripped (denatured) from the whole grain. Leave these products on the shelves. Focus instead on the grain before it is ground into flour if you are compelled to include starches in your diet.

Implementing high net-gain nutrition principles will allow you to maintain strength and possess abundant energy for snowshoeing while eating fewer calories. Even though a calorie is defined as a measure of energy it is illogical to assume that the consumption of more calories generates more energy.

Raw, alkalizing, enzyme-intact foods ought to be the foundation of your diet.  Switching your source of carbohydrate from refined starches to fruits and vegetables is a decent transformation point. If you still consume pasta as your carbohydrate source it is time to change it. Simple carbohydrates will be the body’s primary fuel source during high-and-moderate intensity levels of snowshoeing.

Our penchant for complex carbohydrates at every meal is as baseless as most starches are tasteless. Athletes have mistakenly been conditioned to believe the notion that complex carbohydrates are a viable long-lasting energy source. Find a few better fuel sources (simple carbohydrates) listed below.


The consumption of complex carbohydrates flushes the principle of net-gain nutrition down the toilet. Snowshoers instead require the rapid release of energy which is easily supplied by fruits (simple carbohydrates). This applies to snowshoeing activities of varying intensity levels.

The classic book ‘Grain Damage’ (Dr. Douglas N. Graham) depicts a plethora of the many health and performance issues created by starches. Starches represent ’empty foods’ and ought to be eliminated from the human diet. Raw starches are unpalatable and indigestible by our bodies.

Starches require cooking to make them palatable. Cooking will ‘carmelize’ starches to what represents a semblance of a digestible state yet void of any nutritional value. This will place inordinate strain on your body to digest useless calories. Starches are acid-forming versus alkaline-forming. This will impact your pH balance which will impact everything else.

The consumption of starches is prevalent in the SAD. This diet is linked to numerous chronic health issues with congestion being an early and noteworthy but neglected entrant. Gluten is the protein found in wheat.  It is commonly found in processed and enriched foods. Gluten causes your body to generate mucus both as a line of defense and as a flushing agent. Unrestricted breathing is critical for the snowshoer. Ditch the mucus-forming starches from your diet and enjoy clear nasal pathways to snowshoeing excellence.

Take a close look at the label on the package of the bread(s) you frequently ingest. It may read ‘whole wheat’ but know that in most instances you are spending your money and polluting your body with denatured wheat likely ‘enriched’ with high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, sodium, and a host of artificial ingredients, preservatives, and chemicals you can neither define nor pronounce. Know also that wheat is not a natural food.

Limit your intake of starches. Bread products, for example, ought to be of an organic sprouted ancient grain in which there is at the most a trace of gluten. Find below some viable starch sources to supplement your diet.

Starchy Vegetables

~Sweet Potatoes;

Sprouted Grains


Try to incorporate more simple carbohydrates derived from fruits into your dietary menu as you transition from the snow to the trails. There are plenty of easy, fast, and delicious recipes to sustain your energy and expedite getting yourself outside.

The snowshoer who truly desires the next level in nutrition must abandon starches and focus on fruits and vegetables. Fruits ought to predominate your menu if you aspire maximum levels of performance and wellness.

Vegetables, nuts, and seeds play major roles but fruits provide the nutritional density, digestibility, and assimilation with more nutrients per calorie than starch-based alternatives. 

About the author

Jeff Kildahl, Wellness Editor

Jeff Kildahl is a writer, author, wellness consultant and philanthropist advancing preventive health care by synthesizing primary source nutrition and fitness as the principal components of the practice of medicine.

Kildahl is a sponsored vegan ultra-endurance athlete credentialed in bioenergetics, biomechanics, metabolic efficiency™ testing, sport nutrition, and natural medicine. He is a dynamic member of CUBE™ ~ a professional speakers group ~ empowering others to harmonize the "Keys to Living in the Song of Life."

He is the wellness editor at Snowshoe Magazine, United States Snowshoe Association columnist, and contributor to health, fitness and wellness sites, blogs and publications. He is a US-based ultra-endurance athlete and philanthropist for the 100 FOR 100 Movement ~

Kildahl is the creator and president of The Wholistic Edge® ~ a visionary firm providing synergistic solutions to transcend health, performance, and potential in life and sport from the inside out via the principles of Performance Medicine™ ~