General Nutrition


from: Nordic Skiing – A Diet for an Endurance and Cold-Weather Sport (from

The key to staying healthy in an endurance sport is rest, hydration and good diet.

Nordic skiing is another name for cross country skiing. Because it involves the active use of both arms and legs, it can be a great way to get into condition or lose weight. Nordic skiing burns plenty of calories, and athletes who train or compete need to prepare by proper fueling before and after skiing.


Hydration can be a challenge while exercising in cold weather, but it is absolutely essential. Although runners and cyclists are encouraged to drink a half-liter every 15 minutes for optimal hydration, ski racers are challenged to do this because of the time-consuming nature of removing poles and freeing up hands. Athletes should consume about 20 ounces of water or a sports beverage prior to training or racing. Skiers should compete with a water bottle holder and a leak-free bottle that can rest upside down, preventing it from freezing shut. While most physicians recommend water over a sports drink, the cold weather necessitates using sports drinks that won’t freeze during workouts of longer races.

Calories and Meal Planning

In determining a nutrition plan for Nordic skiing, it is advisable to determine how many extra calories you need. High-intensity skiing can burn 500 calories in as little as 22 minutes in an athlete weighing 187 pounds, and 32 minutes in an athlete weighing 132 pounds. While less-intense skiing won’t burn as many calories, it will increase calorie needs to some degree. Consuming food throughout the day will keep the body well-fueled and more efficient in burning fat than by skipping meals. Try to eat three meals and two snacks daily to accommodate your caloric needs. If you are skiing to lose weight, consuming fewer calories than you need will help. However, keep in mind it may affect your energy level or performance if you are attempting to ski with high intensity for long periods.


According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Dietetics Association and Dietitians of Canada, endurance athletes should consume 6 to 10 grams of carbohydrates per day per kilogram of body weight. Because carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for endurance athletes, including Nordic skiers, focusing on high-quality carbohydrates is a priority. For meals and snacks, consider whole-grain breads and cereals, pastas, vegetables, fruit, beans and legumes and low-fat dairy to meet carbohydrate needs. While training or competing, sports nutrition products containing carbohydrates such as sports drinks or sports gels are useful in delivering a quick fuel source to the muscles. These products are a must for Nordic ski marathon events to keep muscle glycogen levels high.

Protein Requirements

Protein needs for endurance athletes range from 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Dietetics Association and Dietitians of Canada. While protein is not generally used as a fuel source during exercises such as Nordic skiing, it does assist in muscle recovery and repair especially if consumed with a form of carbohydrates and within an hour of exercise. The best sources of protein are those low in saturated fat. Fish, lean red meat, poultry, eggs, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, and low-fat dairy all can contribute protein to the athlete’s diet. Sports nutrition products containing whey protein are also popular among Nordic skiers and can serve as a convenient and safe protein source especially following a workout.

Tips courtesy of

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