How to Eat and Drink during Winter Exercise

Dr. Allen Lim has written a thorough 1,800-word article on the importance of staying hydrated and fueled during exercise in cold weather. He discusses the physiology of the human body in the heat, to which we are well adapted, and the cold, to which our bodies have just a few mechanisms to stay warm and performing well. There are many practical takeaways in his article “Exercising in the Cold of Winter“. Here are just two:

  • You need more calories during exercise in cold weather than in the heat. Your body needs to burn calories to stay warm, right?
  • The body adapts to cold in several ways that necessitate more water replacement than you’d expect. These include changes to blood vessels, bronchial airways, and changes in blood distribution around the body.

Used under creative commons from Flick user rauckhaus/Citizen 4474. Cropped.

“It’s just as important to focus on your food and hydration in the winter as it is anytime of the year with some subtle differences. First and foremost, realize that your need for carbohydrate at any given intensity is probably going to be higher when it’s cold. So don’t forget to eat and to bring those simple sugars outdoors with you.

Next, just because you may not sense that you are losing a lot of fluid or you may not feel that you need to drink, making sure you stay on top of your hydration, especially with something warm. It’s a lot easier to keep your core temperature up from the inside out than it is from the outside in, so having an insulated bottle and keeping some warm hydration product can be a small but significant thing.”

The bottom line? Keep fueling and hydrating during your rides, runs, and hikes, and you’ll perform better over the winter, laying the groundwork for even better performance next spring. Visit Skratch Labs blog to read the full article Exercising in the Cold of Winter.

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Photo used under creative commons license from Flickr user rauckhaus/Citizen 4474. Image was cropped for size.

3 Comments on “How to Eat and Drink during Winter Exercise

  1. There is no doubt about the importance of staying hydrated during exercise in colder temps and how much that plays into recovery as well.

    A month or so ago while out on a 4 hour trail run with a couple of buddies we kept reminding each other to drink. Our oaks were filled with liquid but those were also our calories for the run.

    When the four hours were over we all felt good and the hydration was a success.

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