Triathlon Magazine Canada - - T1 - BY PIP TAY­LOR

Win­ter, as a triath­lete, can be a chal­leng­ing sea­son. For some, the al­lure of win­ter sports or the fol­low­ing sum­mer sea­son goals can shine bright. These are the ath­letes who bound out the door no mat­ter the weather, con­tin­u­ing to train hard and stay fo­cused. For oth­ers, snow, cold and re­duced sun­light hours can im­pact both mood and en­ergy. For those win­ter war­riors keen to get out re­gard­less, there are a few key nu­tri­tion fac­tors to con­sider to en­sure main­te­nance of health and per­for­mance. For oth­ers, when the al­lure of cozy­ing up inside with a steam­ing bowl of com­fort food is too great, there are still ways you can en­sure this doesn’t spell the end of your fit­ness and up­com­ing race goals. And it all starts in the kitchen.

En­ergy re­quire­ments are higher in the cold: In­creased meta­bolic func­tions, linked to heat loss, mean you will likely need to pack some ex­tra train­ing fuel when work­ing out in the win­ter chill. And, if it’s wet (or snow­ing), or you are swim­ming in a cool pool, this will fur­ther in­crease heat losses, driv­ing en­ergy needs even higher. To com­bat this, eat small fre­quent snacks to fuel ex­tra en­ergy de­mand and gen­er­ate some ad­di­tional body heat as metabolism fires up.

For those with re­duced win­ter train­ing loads, be aware that the cold can drive our per­cep­tion of hunger over and above caloric needs, in­creas­ing the de­sire to eat for com­fort and warmth. Coun­ter­act this by turn­ing to warm­ing, nour­ish­ing foods, such as soups, stews, cooked fruits and roasted veg­eta­bles that are nu­tri­ent dense, yet not packed with calo­ries. STAY HY­DRATED: Sweat in sum­mer prompts us to stay on top of hy­dra­tion. But cool weather can be de­cep­tive. If you find you are get­ting back from long work­outs and have barely touched any flu­ids, then try re­hy­drat­ing with some warm­ing flu­ids. Try teas, hot choco­lates for post-work­out re­cov­ery treats and hot soups. These might be more ap­peal­ing as the tem­per­a­ture plum­mets.

BOOST YOUR IM­MUNE SYS­TEM AND HELP WARD OFF THE WIN­TER SNIF­FLES: Vi­ta­min C, carotenoids and other phy­tonu­tri­ents in­crease the body’s pro­duc­tion of in­fec­tion-fight­ing white blood cells to help ward off viruses. Fruits and veg­eta­bles such as or­anges, straw­ber­ries, spinach, car­rots and green herbs are all good sources to in­clude. Some an­tiox­i­dants even in­crease dur­ing the cook­ing process (such as ly­copene in toma­toes or beta carotene in car­rots), mak­ing soups such a great win­ter op­tion. Zinc is also crit­i­cal for im­mune func­tion and found in pro­teins (meats, poul­try, seafood, eggs and dairy) as well as whole­grains. If fresh pro­duce is not read­ily avail­able dur­ing the cold win­ter, then try the frozen foods sec­tion. Veg­eta­bles and fruits that are snap frozen when fresh in sea­son will pro­vide more nu­tri­ents than canned. Re­search sug­gests that in­clud­ing pro­bi­otics will also as­sist in strength­en­ing the im­mune sys­tem by main­tain­ing healthy gut flora (the main driver of the im­mune sys­tem). Fer­mented foods, such as ke­fir, yo­gurt, sauer­kraut, kom­bucha and kim­chi are the best di­etary sources.

SPICE IT UP: Go with warm­ing com­fort meals, but kick things up a notch by adding plenty of herbs and spices. Chilies, turmeric, gin­ger and cin­na­mon are all great ad­di­tions that will add flavour and nu­tri­ents, in­crease meal sa­ti­a­tion and help stave off weight gain for those that pre­fer the sofa to the turbo.

GET SOME SUN­SHINE: Vi­ta­min D de­fi­ciency is associated with in­creased risk of ill­ness, but has also been linked with de­pressed mood, which in turn has the po­ten­tial to lead to bored or emo­tional eat­ing and es­pe­cially crav­ing high-carb com­fort food. Sun­light is the best source of Vi­ta­min D, but win­ter can pose a chal­lenge for soak­ing up enough of it. Foods such as salmon, sar­dines, mack­erel and for­ti­fied dairy foods are also good sources.

MAKE USE OF THE EX­TRA TIME: Your train­ing and race sched­ule may not be so packed, but this doesn’t mean you can’t spend some time in­vest­ing in your fit­ness in other ways. If you lack con­fi­dence in the kitchen, then chal­lenge your­self to im­prove your skills. This uptick in kitchen con­fi­dence and com­pe­tence will serve you well as train­ing loads in­crease and you want to fuel well, but with less time to pre­pare and plan.

Pip Tay­lor is an Aus­tralian pro triath­lete and nutri­tion­ist.

Run­ning dur­ring the win­ter in Ed­mon­ton

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