By: Makayla Meixner, MS, RDN
Whether you are a skier or a snowboarder, nutrition can have a profound effect on performance. In fact, the United States Olympic Committee has stated “a proper eating program is just as important to an elite athlete’s success as a training program.”
However, nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated. Here is a breakdown to get you started, including the importance of getting enough energy, the foundations of a performance diet, and a helpful guide to help you build performance plates day today.
First and foremost, winter athletes need enough energy — or calories — to support their extremely active lifestyles. This includes energy to support basic body functions, growth, regular daily activities, and intense levels of training and competition.
While individual energy needs vary, a rule of thumb is that athletes need to eat 5-6 times per day to meet their high energy demands. Often, this looks like breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner, and sometimes a nighttime snack.
If you’re wondering whether you or your athlete is getting enough energy, here are some common symptoms of low energy availability:
Concerned about low energy levels? A registered dietitian can help ensure you’re getting enough energy to support you or your athlete’s active lifestyle.
Performance meals and snacks
Knowing that athletes need several meals and snacks per day, what should these meals and snacks look like? Meals and snacks built to support optimal health and performance are rich in:
Overall, a balance of nutritious carbs, a variety of proteins, healthy fats, and colorful plant-based foods are the foundation of a performance diet.
The Athlete’s Plates
To help build your performance meals and snacks, the United States Olympic Committee has developed three different “Athlete’s Plates” as a guide to help you with your day-to-day nutrition. These three plates vary depending on how intense your physical activity level is — there is one for an easy day, a moderate day, and a hard day (1):
Since more energy is needed to support higher levels of training, the overall amount of food you need will increase on moderate and hard days. Additionally, the amount of carbohydrate foods will increase, since carbs are the muscles' main source of fuel. As a rule of thumb, the more intense the activity, the more grains, fruit, legumes, and/or starchy veggies you should have on your plate.
To download the Athlete’s Plates handouts, visit the Team USA nutrition website.
Keep in mind, a registered dietitian can help you apply the Athlete’s Plates by tailoring them to your individual needs, food preferences, sport, lifestyle, and more.
Upcoming Performance Nutrition Webinar
Want to learn more? Register for the free live nutrition webinar on Feb 2nd presented by Makayla Meixner, performance dietitian and founder of Own It Nutrition. Makayla is covering how to keep energy levels high all season long plus how to fuel before, during, and after training and competitions to maximize performance.
Makayla Meixner is a performance dietitian and founder of Own It Nutrition. She specializes in fueling strategies for winter athletes and offers individual and group nutrition coaching services.
Phone: (970) 306-6402