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The Right Intake of Macronutrients in Winter Sports



When practicing winter sports, athletes face challenges such as dehydration, cold and altitude. Research shows that these factors can have cumulative effects on the physical endurance and overall health of athletes. Maintenance of energy status, carbohydrate, protein and fat consumption as well as proper fluid balance are essential.


Why is nutrition so important in winter sports?


Winter sports are often held in temperatures ranging from -25 to 5 °C. These conditions increase the dietary needs of the athletes due to the harsh environment, resulting in increased energy, carbohydrate and fluid requirements. Cold temperatures and high altitude can suppress appetite and potentially lead to energy deficits and health problems.


Carbohydrates


Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel, especially during high-intensity activities. Low temperatures can increase carbohydrate oxidation up to 6 times, and even at rest, at high altitude, glucose consumption increases. This highlights the importance of adapting carbohydrate intake based on the duration, intensity and frequency of training sessions.


Protein and fats


Muscle recovery and growth are impossible without adequate protein intake. A daily protein intake of 1.2 to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight, spread evenly over several meals, is recommended. Fats also play a critical role in various bodily functions, and their intake is essential for health and performance in winter sports.


Hydration


In cold temperatures, hydration is often neglected. However, it is just as important as in the summer because cold air contains less water, which leads to increased water loss through respiration. High altitude and low humidity further increase water loss. Proper hydration requires intake of water and minerals (electrolytes) throughout the day.


Don't forget about vitamin D


In winter, sunlight in Europe is insufficient for the synthesis of vitamin D, which is crucial for maintaining bone health, activating muscle function and strengthening the immune system. It is important to eat food rich in vitamin D, such as fish (salmon, mackerel), eggs, dairy products and mushrooms.

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