The Ultimate Guide to Heliskiing Nutrition

How to fuel on the fly

Jan 7, 2013
Outside Magazine

   Photo: lucelu/Flickr

“Heliskiers need to focus on energy dense foods, things you can survive on longer because you’re skiing harder, and you never know. The weather can blow in and you can’t get picked up,” says Adam Korzun, high performance dietitian for the U.S. Ski Team. Below, Korzun’s nutrition strategy for a day of intense—and unpredictable—skiing.

Treat a day of heliskiing like a race day. “It’s not the day to try something new,” Korzun says. “Be consistent and have a good carb source for breakfast.” A few good options include oatmeal, granola, or muesli. If you really like cereal and are running late, try Korzun’s trick: dump powdered Muscle Milk and a granola bar in a water bottle, shake, and enjoy.

“Those long runs burn a lot more energy” than your typical resort skiing run, Korzun says. A 150-pound skier can burn more than 600 calories per hour, so it’s important to refuel as you go. “Snacking is also critical because there’s not a lodge nearby” for a lunch break, Korzun says. So stock up on energy-dense snacks to munch on when you have down time. Some options: trail mix, dried fruit, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, preferably made sandwich thins instead of bread because sandwich thins don’t squish.

Also, stay hydrated. You will dehydrate faster at altitude than at sea level, so make sure you’re drinking when you’re thirsty. A sports drink with electrolytes will keep you hydrated and help ward off cramps. Many outfitters provide drinks, meals, and snacks, so make sure to ask your guide what’s included.

Make sure to get in carbs, protein, and fat, eating carbs and protein in about a 2:1 ratio. “My personal favorite is sushi,” Korzun says. “You get tons of carbs, tons of great protein, and tons of omega-3 fatty acids, which help with inflammation.” Other good refueling options include chicken and pasta or salmon with rice.

If you’re not hitting the slopes the next day, go ahead and celebrate a successfully completed adventure. “You can have whatever you want,” Korzun says. “Enjoy it.”