Registered Dietitian Serves Up Nutrition Tips for Snowshoe Athletes

Focus and energy are required elements to stay on top of your game when training for an endurance event. While most competitors have a pretty good handle on that part of the equation, those that add optimum nutrition and proper rest have the best opportunity for success.

The two main pillars for training are following a program suited for your fitness level, and properly fueling your body. Desiree Nielsen, a registered dietician from Vancouver, British Columbia shared some healthy food choices for snowshoe athletes in a recent interview.

fruit and granola

Photo: Melissa Belanger via Unsplash

Seeing the bigger picture when it comes to healthy eating starts with what’s on your plate. Nielsen explains, “The foundation of any healthy plate is plenty of colorful veggies. Vegetables while not high energy, offer anti-inflammatory phytochemicals that help with recovery and resilience. Lean proteins such as tofu, fish or beans, provide protein that is not just about muscle repair – protein is critical for supporting immunity in athletes. And finally, make one quarter of your plate whole grains or starchy vegetables like squash and sweet potato for lasting energy.

This simple formula can lead to endless options – from a whole grain wrap filled with hummus, pumpkin seeds, and veggies – to a hearty black bean and sweet potato chili.”
Your agent asked Nielsen what her favorite food options are for a typical pre and post snowshoeing workout and here is her response.

“If you’re going out for an easy snowshoe run and your last meal was two or more hours away, all you need is a little snack such as a banana to give you an extra boost,” Nielsen said, adding, “If performance is what you’re after, one hour before your outing, look for whole grains without too much protein and fat to slow stomach emptying. This could be half of a peanut butter and banana sandwich, or a smoothie with spinach, banana, and almond milk.”

peanut butter and banana sandwich

Half of a peanut butter and banana sandwich is a great post-workout snack! Photo: gkrphoto via Shutterstock

She continues: “Post-run if you are eating a meal within about an hour, don’t worry about a recovery snack. If your next meal is further away or your goal is to recover for intensive training, try and get a blend of four carbohydrates to one protein within an hour. Sometimes the easiest option is to pack a simple protein shake that you can shake and go with water, post-activity.”

So what other good food choices would Nielsen recommend for the recreational or competitive snowshoe athlete?

Nielsen said: “When you’re racing, you need additional nutrition to focus on performance, whereas the recreational snowshoer simply (requires) the energy they need for their typical day. Good quality, slow-burn carbohydrates like legumes, whole grains, and starchy vegetables should anchor your meals.

In addition, mineral-rich seeds like hemp, chia, and pumpkin seeds offer zinc to support your immune system, magnesium for muscle relaxation, and iron for energy. If you’re less active, taking one to three tablespoons of these seeds a day is great. If you’re an athlete, you could easily add one quarter-cup a day to power up.”

Proper hydration is another essential element to training at all levels. During cold weather, we can forget about drinking enough water or replacing lost electrolytes with an energy drink. Keep hydrated by drinking about 16 ounces one hour before your workout. If you aren’t going for a long outing, you might only need eight to 16 ounces of water during your workout. When heading out for longer runs, make a natural sports drink by mixing 50 percent juice and 50 percent water with a pinch of salt.

A final tasty tip from Nielsen is she enjoys making seed butter balls because they are so easy to pack and are a nice blend of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. My new overnight oats recipe is great!

About the author

Christine Blanchette

Christine is an avid runner, but also likes to strap on her racing snowshoes each season. When she is not working out, she is writing. Christine is a running columnist, lifestyle writer, speaker and TV host of Run With It, a monthly show on running, fitness and health. Find Christine at Twitter: @christineruns; Instagram: runwithit_christineblanchette;

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