Winter Fitness Fuel: Discover the Power of Proper Nutrition for Cold Weather Workouts

As the winter chill sets in and the days become shorter, maintaining an active lifestyle might seem like a daunting task.

Physical Fitness
 Min read
January 15, 2024

As the winter chill sets in and the days become shorter, maintaining an active lifestyle might seem like a daunting task. Yet, for those dedicated to their fitness goals, the colder months offer a unique opportunity to embrace the invigorating power of cold weather workouts. 

Whether you're a seasoned athlete or someone looking to find success in a New Year’s resolution, one crucial factor can make or break your winter exercise regimen: nutrition.

When exercising in the cold weather, you need to take extra precautions to stay safe and comfortable while also maximizing your performance. However, many people don’t consider proper nutrition and hydration to be a necessary piece of that puzzle. 

Nutrition Before a Winter Workout

Of course, proper nutrition is vital to your fitness success all year round, but it plays an important role during your winter workouts. 

Proper nutrition before a wintery workout not only helps provide fuel for your body but it also helps your body regulate its core temperature (an effect known as thermogenesis) ensuring your body is warm and has enough fuel to keep your muscles working properly throughout your session.

Eating helps increase heat production in the body, with a 10% increase being generated 30-60 minutes after eating.

Focus on eating carbohydrate-rich foods pre-workout to top off muscle glycogen stores (to keep your energy up) and a small amount of protein which helps build and repair muscle tissue, and reduce post-exercise soreness. Warm foods are preferable before a cold-weather workout if possible. 

Complex carbohydrates like soups, breads, bagels, pasta, baked potatoes, cereals, peanut butter, lean meat and low fat cheeses are best consumed several hours before a winter workout.

Winter Hydration

Dehydration is one of the biggest causes of reduced performance in cold weather workouts, in part, because getting adequate hydration in the winter feels less intuitive this time of year. You feel less thirsty in the winter than in the heat of the summer, but that doesn’t mean your body needs less water.

In fact, it might even need more.

When you breathe in cold air, your body must warm and humidify that air to regulate your body temperature. With each exhalation, you lose significant amounts of water as it is being humidified. Therefore, more fluids need to be consumed to replace the water that gets lost through respiration.

Four ounces of fluid for every 15 minutes of activity is recommended. 

Unless you are hot, you do not need to drink icy water. Cold water can cool you off and give you the chills; warm, hydrating drinks are the most effective so grab your thermos!

Recovery Nutrition

You should eat a snack within 15-30 minutes post-workout. To chase away chills, replenish depleted energy stores, and rehydrate, enjoy warm carbohydrates with a protein, such as hot cocoa made with milk, oatmeal with nuts, chili or soup, pasta with meatballs, etc. 

The warm food, added to the thermogenic effect of eating, aids in recovery.

Before you get outside this winter, make sure you are properly feeding and hydrating your body. It will keep your body happy and healthy, while making strides in your fitness goals. 

Pietra Fitness