Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stay at Peak Performance this Winter By Lily Brooke

By Lily Brooke
It’s that time of the year again. The leaves start to wither away and winter imprints its shapes and forms on nature. As the days shorten and darkness looms, most encounter a brief stint of post-summer blues; but if, like me, you are a passionate snowboarder, you will no doubt be looking forward to those wintery months. Conversations will be subsumed by upcoming trips to the mountains and your dreams will be flooded by that fresh powder revered by snowboarders worldwide. These dreams can be quickly cancelled out by concerns about your fitness. As with any sport, if you want to reach peak performance you need to follow a training regime.
Abiding by a strict gym programme will ensure that your muscles are prepared for the core pressures you will face on the mountains. But, it will only take you so far up the mountain, so you will need to follow the nutritional tips below to help recovery and performance potential on and off the slopes.

Pre-Session Fuelling
Winter sports like snowboarding are highly intensive activities. Every primary movement burns off calories and energy. A massive meal prior to a session is therefore crucial for optimal performance. Failure to take in sufficient calories will increase the chance of liver depletion and reduced glycogen stores, having a pivotal impact on overall performance levels. Dizziness, muscle cramps, fatigue are all symptoms of a low energy reserve so don’t skip breakfast, make it a big one.
The experts advise the consumption of 500-900 calories two or three hours before a session.  If you wake up late, don’t panic. Like many things in life, content is most important. Carbohydrates (particularly low-to moderate glycemic carbs) have been cited by many nutrionalists as key in encouraging a more prolonged release of energy into those essential areas. You can get these types of carbohydrates from food sources like bananas, cereals such as Special K, energy bars like Powerbar, berries and lowfat youghurt.
You will also need to include some protein, whether it be eggs, dairy, meat or nuts it doesn’t really matter but it is essential that you don’t over do it. A gram for every four grams of carbohydrate is what the professionals prescribe. This will help muscle fatigue by 25 percent, extending your fun on the mountains. An example of a pre-slope meal: waffles with peanut butter and honey served with some milk.

Energy on the slopes
There’s no shadow of a doubt that blitzing down the mountains at highspeeds is one of the most exhilarating experiences for an adrenaline junkie. However, it can also be very tiring, especially when you are just starting out. Smoothness is the key here; if the board is ridden uneconomically (forcing the turns rather than carving) the boarder will often have to sidestep uphill. This only adds to the energy expenditure.
Also, although shivering can generate heat it also increases your metabolic rate by two to four times, which will burn more calories quicker. Appropriate dress is therefore fundamental if you are to survive a day at the slopes. It may also be beneficial to take energy bars, gels, drinks with you so that your boarding performance stays at a peak level for longer.
In terms of hydration, a common delusion is the cold temperatures- the body doesn’t feel hot so our thirst is reduced by so far as 40 percent. We still get dehydrated so don’t wait until you start to feel thirsty.

Post-slope performance
Recovery is a fundamental part of any fitness programme. Re-hydrate yourself first with a carb-heavy hot drink (for e.g. hot chocolate) and then recharge the calorie deficit with a big meal. Ideally, it should include plenty of carbs again, with a small quantity of protein (spaghetti and meatballs, chicken and rice etc.)
After this, you should be feeling well enough to go out and enjoy the apr├Ęs-ski scene. Ski-resorts often have reputations for good nightlife so ensure you make the most of it. Websites such as jet2.com will help any partygoer find a suitable resort. 

Lily writes health articles on behalf of an ethical online pharmacy. She strongly believes in sport, exercise and healthy diet as being more important than almost any cure.
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