Snowshoeing and Nutritional Balance

Snowshoeing expends an incredible amount of energy. Snowshoers are aware said effort is both light on our joints and Mother Earth. Nutrition has a profound impact on our performance and recovery. Our health is directly linked to the food we eat. Each bite affects the environment. Food quality plays a prominent role in long-term health.

It may be a good time to recalibrate your body and improve more than your snowshoeing.

Foods that offer superior net gain are alkaline versus acidic forming; high in chlorophyll, rich in enzymes, pre-and-probiotics, raw, and best consumed in liquid form. Hydration is much more easily maintained when more whole, raw foods are consumed versus its dry, processed, cooked counterparts. Look to digest foods offering the maximum net gain once the body has processed the food for energy. An animal-based diet forces the body to use more energy to digest, assimilate and utilize the nutrients; hence, we are left with less net gain. At the least learn to complement your diet with more assimilating and nutrient-rich food sources.

Our bodies possess enough blood to feed our muscles or digest food. There is not enough to simultaneously do both. This is why fatigue sets in after a large meal. This is why it is not recommended to snowshoe after eating a large meal. It makes sense to fuel your body with easily digestible high quality food sources to maximize blood flow to your muscles versus digestion. Grazing or multiple mini-meals throughout the day will assist in this process.

Alkalizing foods are vital to our swift recovery from snowshoeing. These foods provide mental clarity in addition to regeneration of muscles and joints. Lactic acid combined with acidic foods will inevitably lead to fatigue, muscle and joint stiffness or pain while degeneration occurs at the cellular level. Daily consumption of diverse whole foods, green leafy vegetables, and protein with a high pH [alkaline] will assist in maintaining an alkaline state. Hemp, flax, raw nuts and seeds and other natural foods will minimize acidity in the body.

The process of digestion is hindered by acid-forming foods. Denatured [highly refined and processed] foods retain its caloric value yet are devoid of usable nutrients. Enzymes are the catalysts in the final stages of digestion whereby either energy is released or nutrients are integrated into the body structure. Enzymes are the most heat-sensitive of all nutrient substances and are destroyed by every means of cooking at only 116 degrees. The consumption of cooked foods requires enzyme production by the body which invariably creates a nutritional deficit affecting the health of the snowshoer. Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds contain within themselves the requisite enzymes to complete digestion.

Find below a few jewels to consider integrating into your diet to enhance your wellness and snowshoeing:

* Chlorella

A single-celled freshwater microscopic green algea. It is the fastest growing plant on the earth. It is capable of reproducing itself four times in 24 hours. It is 65% protein and possesses 19 different amino acids including all 10 of the essential ones obtained only through diet. Chlorella has the highest level of chlorophyll of any organism, its protein remains alkaline, and thus, speeds recovery from snowshoeing.

Chlorella offers superior detoxification properties and when consumed daily enhances the immune system at the cellular level. Consumption of chlorella each day will speed cellular regeneration, enhance healing, expedite muscle recovery, stimulate tissue repair, and even slow the signs of aging. Nucleic acids [RNA and DNA] and Chlorella Growth Factor [CGF] are the attributes responsible for its superfood quality.

When choosing chlorella look for a brand with high levels of CGF, protein, and chlorophyll. A daily dose of 1.5 – 2.5 grams of this whole food is appropriate. Sport snowshoers and endurance athletes may require up to 7.5 grams [1 tbsp] depending on his/her training regimen.

* Maca

Maca is a root vegetable from the Peruvian mountains and is grown in mineral-rich volcanic soil. It is an adaptogen that curtails the effects of stress by regenerating the adrenal glands. It works to restore balance to hormonal health. An out-of-balance hormonal system is a catalyst for numerous ailments and degeneration.

Maca possesses the precursors for the production of serotonin. Maca balances any increase or decline in hormonal levels to offset self-induced chemical reactions in the brain and eliminate sugar cravings. Maca is rich in sterols which promote swift regeneration of fatigued muscle tissue. A snowshoer requires strength and this root increases energy by nourishment versus stimulation.

Select gelatinized maca for optimal results. Gelatinization is a process that removes the starchy component of the maca root making it concentrated and easily digestible. Clinical studies respective to maca’s effectiveness used the gelatinized form. Daily doses comparable to chlorella are recommended.

* Hemp

Hemp is a nutrient-rich whole food in its natural state and has a higher pH balance than many other protein sources. Hemp possesses all 10 essential amino acids and its amino profile boosts the immune system and hastens recovery. It includes anti-inflammatory properties to swiftly repair soft tissue damage caused by snowshoeing. Edestin is an intergral part of DNA and is prevalent in hemp–making hemp the closest plant source closest to the human amino acid profile.

High-quality complete protein such as hemp is vital to muscle tissue regeneration and fat metabolism. Its superior digestibility allows hemp to retain its high level of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, alkaline, and chlorophyll. Protein ingestion releases hormones enabling the body to more easily utilize its fat reserves to improve endurance. The quality of protein is paramount to reducing the digestive strain on the body. The natural state of this raw food allows its digestive enzymes to remain intact and enhance assimilation. Protein becomes denatured when cooked at 161 degrees or higher. Its amino acid chains are deranged and become more toxic than usable to the body.

Hemp crops are environmentally superior. Hemp can be grown in hot and cold environments to make use of discarded land. It can be grown in arid conditions and conserve water by making irrigation unnecessary. Select a deep, rich green color to signify freshness when purchasing hemp. It should have a pleasant smell and a nutty taste.

* Enzymes and Probiotics

Enzymes are required to digest food into energy for the body. The absence of enzymes can result in illness and disease–even if one’s diet is optimal. Enzymes are destroyed by stress and fortify the immune system when pollutants are present. The speed and quality of cellular regeneration after snowshoeing is in part dependent on enzyme prevalence.
Raw foods retain its enzymes. Supplementation is an option to consider to maintain optimal health.

Probiotics support intestinal flora and increase the bioavailability of minerals–especially calcium. It will assist the body to digest, process, and ultilze complex carbohydrates and protein. This form of ‘good’ bacteria ensures absorption through the intestines. Probiotics will reduce the prospect of infection and the need for antibiotics.

Other foods to note include Mangosteen, Acai, tempeh, flax, sea vegetables, sprouts, Stevia, and Yerba Mate. This list is not exhaustive.

America is one of the sickest nations on the planet. When we base our food choices on the awareness and interconnectedness of humans and the environment we realize that isolation of one another is no longer tenable. The same is true for your level of wellness, fitness, and your snowshoeing prowess. We cannot control or escape it–it is the fabric of our being. It is not something ‘out there’ but instead something within each of us.

The digestive benefits of a plant-based diet and its lifestyle ramifications have been well-documented. It is recognized that an organic, plant-based, whole foods lifestyle is superior for human health. It also helps to prevent animal abuse, helps to preserve topsoil, rainforests, air and water quality, and is capable of feeding more humans than an animal-based diet…what are you waiting for?

Snowshoers are intelligent and affluent enough to recognize the relationship among wellness, animal welfare, and environmental stewardship. We ought to be aware that every action, gesture, decision, and footstep affects our planet and our own survival. This should be the mindset moving forward. I encourage you today to take action and integrate your passion for snowshoeing to achieve optimum wellness and preserve your snowshoeing environment.

© 2007 Jeff Kildahl


  • 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™ ~