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Best supplements for skiing and snowboarding

Rob Hobson
Article written by Rob Hobson

Date published 30 November 2022

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Sports nutritionist Rob Hobson shows how supplements can keep your joints, gut and immunity in top shape, so you don't miss any time on the slopes.

Skiing holidays are hugely active and demanding on the body. Of course, what your body requires depends on how much skiing you do and to what intensity. In some cases, the social side of the skiing scene can also take its toll, impacting energy levels. Annoying niggles can also present themselves after a day of skiing, and muscle soreness is a common occurrence.

Supplements can help to support your everyday health, provide energy and fight fatigue during long sessions. They can also help with recovery, especially if you plan a more extended holiday. You may also want to keep something to hand to help your body deal with the after-effects of après-ski, which may see you drinking more than you usually do.

What to take for everyday health?

Travelling abroad can take its toll on your gut. If you have a sensitive gut and are prone to traveller's diarrhoea or constipation, prepare for your trip with a course of probiotics a couple of weeks before you leave, and continue taking them while you are away.

When travelling, there is always the risk that the local cuisine will not meet your taste. Mountain skiing snacks can also be heavy on the carbs and light on the greens. A basic multivitamin and mineral supplement will ensure your nutritional intake doesn't suffer.

A multivitamin will also include vitamin D, which is vital for immunity and is mainly made in the skin on exposure to sunlight. Weak winter sun and skiwear that covers the skin mean you're unlikely to make enough, so a supplement can help.

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Joints and immunity

Winter sports can be hard on the joints, especially if you already suffer from joint issues. Consider packing a supplement such as turmeric, which can help relieve inflammation.

In case you get hit with an upper respiratory tract infection such as a common cold or sore throat, consider packing some zinc lozenges, which have been shown to reduce symptoms of the common cold.

What to take on the slopes?

Maintaining energy levels is vital for your performance on the slopes; tiredness and fatigue will increase your risk of injury. If you have a long skiing or snowboarding session planned, try keeping a couple of energy gels to hand. They are best taken after an hour or so of prolonged intense exercise. Don't take them more than once every half hour.

Protein bars are good to keep on hand if you know you have a long time between breakfast and lunch. They offer a satiating snack that can help to ward off hunger.

The joys of après-ski mean you may not always manage to get much sleep. In that case, tiredness can quickly take hold, compounded by the physical effort involved in skiing.

Mental alertness and hydration

Caffeine powders and gums can help improve mental alertness and overcome the perception of fatigue. A pre-workout supplement with caffeine may be a good idea to add to your water bottle.

Hydration is vital in any sport, and it's often overlooked when exercising in a cold environment. If you're out for a long session, you could add electrolytes to your drink to help prevent dehydration and the loss of essential minerals. Insulated bottles (Chilly's is one brand) are the best way to help maintain the temperature of your water without it freezing on the slopes. There is also no reason you couldn't carry hot water if you prefer.

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What to take after skiing?

Protein powders are an excellent way to help your muscles recover after a hard day skiing. You may prefer a clear whey powder that can be mixed with water for a refreshing drink, rather than a traditional shake. Night-time powders are also available in the form of hot chocolate drinks. These powders contain a type of protein called casein, which can promote muscle repair while you sleep as it is metabolised more slowly than whey.

Magnesium helps the body relax, which may be beneficial after a long day of exercise. This mineral can be absorbed through the skin and is available as bath salts and a gel you can rub on aching muscles.

If you have a heavy night in the bar planned, try herbal remedies such as artichoke extract or milk thistle to help support your liver and relieve the aftereffects of overindulgence such as indigestion and heartburn.

Holidays are a time to let loose and enjoy yourself. However, when embarking on a physically demanding holiday such as skiing, you may want to explore the use of supplements to keep your health in check and avoid injury on the slopes.

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Rob Hobson

About Rob Hobson

Rob Hobson MSc RNutr is an award-winning registered nutritionist (AFN) and sports nutritionist (SENR) with over 15 years of experience. He founded London-based consultancy RH Nutrition, and has degrees in nutrition, public health nutrition and sports nutrition.