"But I'm on a diet." "But I had crème brûlée last night." "But it's a powder day, and I've gotta get first chair!" People, there is no excuse to skip breakfast before skiing. Shun the pancakes and you may end up cold, tired, and worse yet -- injured.
"We put gas in our cars to make them run," says Nancy Clark, R.D., author of the Sports Nutrition Guidebook. "But very often we forget to put gas in our bodies, which need solid fuel to perform, not fumes." Both body and brain depend on blood sugar -- alias glucose -- to function properly. A hearty breakfast can provide you with the necessary fuel to bump and grind all day.
Most people eat their last meal between seven and nine at night, making for 14 hours of fasting. With the resounding ring of the alarm clock, your metabolism is up and running, your stomach in search of Cheerios. "Eating in the morning helps replenish the glucose in our muscles," says Clark. "Adequate blood-sugar levels will not only help warm the body by boosting the metabolism, it will also reduce the likelihood of injury." Low glucose levels can lead to loss of muscle control, potentially sending you and your quaking quads careening into the woods. To avoid breaking a leg, you literally need to break your fast.
Numerous studies have proven that eating breakfast enhances mental clarity and improves concentration. A plus for SAT-takers, but also for skiers. A clear and focused head is essential for skiing the trees or exploring the backcountry. Passing on breakfast can also lead to afternoon overeating -- extra bad news for downhill dieters. "You won't gain weight by eating breakfast; in fact, the opposite proves to be true," says Clark. "People who skip meals are starved by midday, and are more likely to eat foods high in fat that do a poor job of replenishing the muscles."
To avoid that heaping plate of noontime chili-cheese fries, enjoy a breakfast rich in carbohydrates and low in fat. Pancakes, oatmeal, bagels, yogurt, muffins, and toast are good options for proper pre-ski prep. Not only will the carbs provide your muscles with ample amounts of glucose, they also empty fastest from the stomach, allowing alpine addicts to eat and run.
"By the time you eat, get to the hill, put on your skis, and ride the lift, your digestive processes are well under control," says Clark.
"Eating anything is better than eating nothing," she advises. So go ahead and have that crème doughnut and mocha cappuccino. "Just watch your portions and don't forget to drink plenty of water."
Fact: A pecanbon at Cinnabon packs in a whopping 1,100 calories. a blueberry crumb cake at Starbucks, 800 calories.
Source: Tufts University study
Skier: Wendy Brookbank
Credentials: Warren Miller movie star
Breakfast of Champions: Peanut butter on toast and a super strong cup of coffee or espresso.
Mealtime Musings: "I never have a big breakfast before I ski...unless I'm hungover, and then I'll have eggs Benedict."
Skier: Chris Davenport
Credentials: Two-time World Freeskiing champ
Breakfast of Champions: Muesli with fruit (especially in Europe).
Mealtime Musings: "I'm not a ravenous breakfast eater, but on the weekends, we'll cook fruit pancakes with Vermont maple syrup."
Skier: Kent Kreitler
Credentials: Forefather of the freeriding movement
Breakfast of Champions: Protein shake with yogurt, bananas, and strawberries.
Mealtime Musings: "Sometimes I don't eat until 11. Sometimes it's just a chew and a coffee."
Skier: Daron Rahlves
Credentials: U.S. Ski Team downhiller extraordinaire
Breakfast of Champions: An omelette, apple juice, and a banana.
Mealtime Musings: "No beer, no chew, no caffeine...you can't be addictted to anything."