Nutrition Tips for Cool Weather Running

by Beth Mansfield, Sport Dietician

1. You thought that cooler weather meant no sweating? Think again! While we no doubt sweat less in cooler environments compared to hot, humid conditions, we still can lose a significant amount of fluid on a long run in frigid conditions. Measure your cool weather sweat losses by weighing yourself before and after different durations of runs – aim to minimize your weight losses to <1% of your body weight. NOTE: You need to consume 1-litre of fluid per kg of weight loss.

If you’re losing less than 1% of your body weight on shorter runs without drinking fluids, then you likely don’t need to carry a water bottle with you. However, if you’re losing more than 1% of your body weight during a run, this means your performance is being affected. So get a jump on the competition and bring a water bottle with you – and drink up! TIP: Pack your water bottle in an insulated carrier to ensure that it doesn’t freeze up on longer runs.

2. Always start off well fueled. There’s nothing worse than running out of gas in the cold! Oatmeal should be your best friend this winter. Not only is it a warm, cozy and carb-rich meal, it’s one of the best ways to add water to your diet in a food-based form! Each 1/3 cup of raw oatmeal soaks up at least 3 times its volume in water when cooked. Plus, the soluble fibre content of oatmeal is renowned for its low glycemic index, giving you a long, slow release of magnificent carbs to keep your legs pumping over the long haul. Finally, oatmeal has a soothing effect on the gut… Happy heart and a healthy gut – two things that will make any run more productive and enjoyable!

Seven Ways with Oatmeal

•Apple Cinnamon (chopped apple, cinnamon, oatmeal)
•Mocha Madness (Nutella, oatmeal)
•Berry Breeze (Frozen berries, ground flax, oatmeal)
•Creamy Surprise (Yogurt mixed into cooked oatmeal)
•Maple Walnut (Maple syrup, walnuts, oatmeal)
•Cranberry Tart (Cranberries, sweetened applesauce, oatmeal)
•Tropical Twist (Coconut, mango, oatmeal)

3. Warm down after your run – recent research points to the benefits of chocolate milk and caffeinated beverages for muscle glycogen refueling. So that café latté is a great carb/protein/caffeine/fluid option for warming down post workout, as is a mug of steaming hot chocolate. Other quick and easy options include vegetable soups (now readily available in tetra packs) like tomato basil, leek and potato, savoury squash, carrot and ginger, and lentil vegetable.

Beth Mansfield is a sport dietitian and exercise physiologist with Peak Performance in Ottawa. Click here to visit the Peak Performance web site.