Maximize Your Winter Workouts

Some helpful tips to ensure your body has the right nutrients for fast recovery when exercising outside in wintertime.

British Columbia boasts some of world’s best mountains and incorporating them into your winter exercise program is a great way to stay fit and active.  But the hours spent on the mountain can drain your energy stores and leave you dehydrated. Properly fueling pre-workout and re-fueling post-workout can significantly help the body recover, which is critical to keeping you healthy and ready to go for your next winter adventure. Last year, registered dietitian and Powered by Chocolate Milk spokesperson Ashley Charlebois was on CTV News with some easy tips for exercising outdoors in the cold to plan ahead and ensure your body has the right nutrients for fast recovery.

1.     Fuel your muscles pre-workout

Before hitting the slopes, ensure that you have something to eat.  Foods that are high in carbohydrate mixed with a small amount of lean protein that is low in fat will energize your muscles. Don’t avoid carbohydrate as it’s your body’s primary source of fuel for activity and therefore very important to include in your pre-workout fuel. Some good pre-exercise meals include:

  • Yogurt, cereal, fruit
  • Whole grain toast or bagel, egg, milk
  • Soup, sandwich with lean meat or fish, milk

 2.     Hydrate and rehydrate

When exercising outdoors during the winter, you often don’t realize how much water you’re losing from perspiration, which can lead to dehydration and have a negative impact on your performance and recovery. The recommended daily fluid intake for woman is nine cups (2.2L) and 13 cups (3L) for men.  Be sure to hydrate before, during and after exercise. Remember alcohol and caffeine can make you even more dehydrated, so stick to water, juice and milk.

3.     Wear base layers

When expending energy in the chilly weather, it’s important to preserve body heat and keep muscles warm.  Wearing a waterproof shell and warm base layers provide the necessary insulation to keep muscles at a constant temperature, so your body doesn’t have to expend as many calories to retain heat. 

4.     Eat carbohydrate, protein and electrolytes within 30 minutes post-workout

After a strenuous workout, it’s essential to consume a mix of carbohydrate and a small amount of protein within 30 minutes to properly replenish the body’s glycogen stores.  Glycogen is key for repairing tired muscles, especially if you plan to get outside again the the next day.  Chocolate milk provides both carbs and protein to repair tired muscles post-workout.  It’s also 90 per cent water and contains important electrolytes to replace the potassium and sodium lost during perspiration.  Hot chocolate is a great option after a day on the slopes!

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