How To Fuel Guide: Outdoor Winter Sports and Activities
During the cold-weather months, many athletes rely on their indoor trainers or treadmills to maintain/improve their fitness… and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that! But getting outside in the brisk, fresh air to not only get your exercise but also to enjoy the beauty of nature is good for both body and mind! Take your choice--snowshoeing, traditional or skate skiing, alpine skiing or snowboarding, or just a long hike in the woods—you’ll have a fantastic time and a great workout, and the endorphins will flow like crazy when you’re done!
Proper fueling and a bit of supplementation will allow you to get the full value out of your workout/activity, and it’ll make your day outdoors undeniably better before you get to the product suggestions. Here is some essential information...
5 SIMPLE WAYS TO IMPROVE ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE NOW
While there are numerous steps that you can (and should) take to optimize athletic performance, here are a couple of super easy ones. Start with this right away, and you’ll experience noticeably rapid improvement in your endurance and overall exercise performance.
1) Stay properly hydrated all day long. With approximately 60% of your body being comprised of water, it’s vital to maintain optimal hydration all day. Unfortunately, a lot of people—perhaps you? —live in a state of perpetual dehydration that negatively affects athletic performance and overall health. Starting now, gradually increase your fluid intake—primarily from pure, clean water—so that the total number of ounces you’re drinking daily is equal to 0.5 to 0.6 of your body weight in pounds (e.g., a 180-lb athlete should consume 90 – 108 ounces of fluids daily, in addition to what is being consumed during exercise). During exercise, drink 16-26 ounces per hour.
2) Fuel lean. It’s interesting to know how many calories you’re burning every hour during exercise; however, that amount isn’t a factor in terms of how many calories your body can accept in return for your fuel donation. The goal of caloric intake is to consume the least amount necessary to maintain energy levels where you want and need them to be hour after hour. For most athletes, this represents an intake of 120-180 calories per hour. Larger athletes (200+ lbs.) can consume 200 or slightly more calories. And if you find that’s not quite enough calories, that’s an easy fix—you consume a few more. Remember, it is ALWAYS easier to fix a “not enough” problem than an “uh oh, I overdid it, and now my stomach is rebelling” problem.
3) Ditch the sugar. Most fuels are comprised of short-chain carbohydrates, also known as simple sugars (glucose, sucrose, fructose, etc.) Hammer Nutrition fuels do not contain any simple sugars; instead, we use maltodextrin, a complex carbohydrate. Both maltodextrin and some simple sugars will boost energy levels quickly, which is a desirable benefit. However, simple sugars—because they are comprised of only one or two saccharide molecules—will drop your energy levels just about as quickly. Constantly feeling great for a few minutes, then fighting your way out of an energy rut for several minutes—commonly referred to as ”flash and crash”—is no way to enjoy your winter sport/activity. Conversely, because maltodextrin is MANY saccharide molecules weakly linked together, you enjoy quick-acting and much longer-lasting energy without any wild fluctuations in energy levels. Another great thing with maltodextrin is that your body can digest greater amounts of calories—with no delay from entry to exit of the digestive tract—and make them available for energy production. You can efficiently digest up to 3x more calories with maltodextrin than any simple sugar, which basically eliminates stomach distress issues.
4) Don’t eat for 3 hours before your workouts, races, and competitions. By refraining from consuming any calories in the 3-hour period before your workouts, races, and competitions, you put your body in the ideal physiological state to use its finite stores of muscle glycogen most efficiently while utilizing the vast amounts of calories from body fat stores more effectively. Adopt this practice in all your workouts—even the early morning ones—and you’ll start seeing massive improvements in your endurance in a relatively short time. Note: If you must have some calories before the start of exercise, consuming something easy to digest (e.g., a serving of Hammer Gel) 5-10 minutes before the beginning—but no further out—is acceptable.
5) “Refill the tank” ASAP after all your workouts. Your body wants to reward you for your efforts in training, strengthening the immune system, rebuilding muscle tissue, and storing more minutes of readily available fuel (glycogen) in the muscles. All you have to do to enjoy all of these endurance-enhancing benefits is supply your body with the materials it needs right away—ideally within the first 30 minutes after exercise (the sooner, the better)—meaning complex carbohydrates and high-quality protein such as found in Recoverite and Organic Vegan Recoverite.
Fully Charged - Hammer Nutrition’s pre-exercise supplement provides numerous athletic performance-enhancing benefits without resorting to stimulants or excessive amounts of caffeine. Taking one dose 15-30 minutes before the start of your workout/activity will allow you to enjoy all of this amazing product’s benefits for a good 3 hours and oftentimes longer. If you’ll be exercising longer than that, additional doses may be taken.
Anti-Fatigue Caps - This unique supplement significantly increases endurance by neutralizing the fatigue-causing ammonia that builds up in the blood and muscles during both high-intensity and endurance exercise, both of which are very much a part of many winter sports and activities. Take one dose of 2-4 capsules 15-30 minutes before the start, with additional doses of 1-2 capsules hourly.
1) Success "during" starts "after"! It’s absolutely vital that you "refill the tank" after all your workouts... this is a major key for noticeably enhancing athletic performance. When you begin a workout/activity or race/competition, your body's primary fuel for the first 60-90 minutes or so is known as muscle glycogen. The more consistent you are with ASAP post-exercise fueling—Recoverite or Organic Vegan Recoverite is ideal for that—among the many benefits you'll receive is more minutes of glycogen stored in the muscles—maxing out at somewhere between 60-90 minutes—ready to serve you in future workouts and competitions.
2) Finish all calorie consumption 3 hours before you start. See #4 in the earlier article for why this is so important.
3) Try this “all-day” fueling combo! Many winter sports athletes like to use a hydration pack because it allows for hands-free hydration and electrolyte replenishment, while also covering much of their calorie needs. Give this a try!
- HEED – Each scoop of HEED contains 110 calories. I (Steve Born) personally use 1.75 scoops of HEED an hour, which supplies 192.5 calories, an amount that works well for larger athletes like me (I’m 200 pounds). 1.0 scoop (110 calories) per hour works well for light-weight athletes. Medium-weight athletes will find that 1.25 scoops (137.5 calories) to 1.50 scoops (165 calories) per hour is an excellent amount. Mix the appropriate number of scoops with water into your hydration pack, begin sipping 5-10 minutes before starting, and drink regularly throughout the time you’re exercising.
- Endurolytes Extreme Powder – Add 1-2 scoops to your hydration pack for each hour of exercise to cover your all-important electrolytic mineral needs.
4) Additional premium-quality “easy to use and consume” fuels! As auxiliary fuels to augment HEED in your hydration pack, or as your sole fuel should you opt not to use HEED, these will fit the bill perfectly!
- Perpetuem Solids – The same time-tested formula that earned Perpetuem powder its reputation, but in a tasty, chewable form. Perpetuem Solids are stable in all climates and easily packable, making them the perfect “complex carbs + protein + health fat” fuel for adventures of any duration. Every three tablets of Perpetuem Solids contain 100 calories.
- Hammer Gel – Using the 5-serving Hammer Flask—which winter sports athletes have told us works even better than the single-serving packets—makes it easy to fulfill 2+ hours of calorie needs. Keep tucked inside a hydration pack pouch or jacket pocket to keep the mixture from getting too cold, thus making it super easy to consume.
5) ASAP after you’re done, it is time to “refill the tank” ASAP with Recoverite or Organic Vegan Recoverite. Refueling your body with two scoops of Recoverite or Organic Vegan Recoverite within the first 30 minutes after your workouts, races, or competitions takes advantage of the glycogen synthase enzyme when it’s most active. This allows the body to replenish and increase its glycogen stores while providing the raw materials (the amino acids from protein) to help rebuild the muscle tissue and support the immune system.