Sport nutition

Winter feeding

Par Nicolas Aubineau - 6 minutes de lecture

winter feedingWinter (which begins officially only mid-December) is a climate period that some athletes like, others a bit less. Thermoregulation is quickly put to use in cold and dry environment. However, adaptive skills, and resistance to cold improve for athletes used to low temperatures. The needs are generally increased and alimentation, quantitative and qualitative energy input, bringing things to the proper functioning of the body, must be adapted to the direct environment of the athlete (family, professional, Sports of course…).


When diet rhymes with energy!

In quantity

The winter feeding is generally positively correlated with a denser food intake into energy, cold temperatures increase energy needs but sometimes limit the number of sessions. Many sportsmen take the opportunity to spend the winter… to recover from last season!

From a macroscopic point of view, this is not disturbing if the balance « contributions versus needs » is satisfied correctly, without excess. The goal for any athlete (EV) is to minimize weight, taking specifically body fat during this period. It is very often a period of rest or any activities conducive to the regeneration of the body.

When there is a bad adaptation of the organism and generally unbalanced energy balance, this usually leads to either a gain or a loss of weight. This can be associated or not to specific symptoms such as bronchial infections, sinusitis, sore throat, fatigue, mood disorders, hypersomnia, hyperphagia

In addition, the thermal constraints related to the cold lead to an increase in the metabolic rate, requiring a greater amount of oxygen causing hyperventilation that increases energy expenditure via lipid metabolisms and carbohydrate. Also, redistribution of blood flow from the periphery to the centre promotes an increase of urinary elimination, explaining the importance of hydration during this phase (prefer water weakly mineralized like …spring waters for example…).


And quality!

In order to limit the potential negative effects of this period (infections, fatigue,…), it is necessary to sustain the needs of the organism also through the micronutrient point of view and by a thoughtful but not too complicated diet, which can be done by adopting simple traditional culinary technics.


good winter feedingThe food which needing to be quite rich in energy, it is necessary to associate good densified complex carbohydrates and fatty acids of good quality. So bring on regularly during the week fishes, such as herring, sardine, mackerel, salmon or anchovies rich in omega-3 long chain fatty acids, protein crops (Walnut, hazelnut, almond…) rich in energy, protein, good quality lipids, iron, magnesium, and vegetable oils in order to supply omega 3 essential fatty acids, 6, and 9 required for good cell metabolism: olive, rapeseed, nuts, sesame, hazelnut… Adding butter or any animal fats (via cheeses, dairy products little skimmed…) allows to provide a supplement of vitamins A and D and have recognized antioxidant and metabolic qualities.


Important note regarding the ‘fat’: Cook the least possible fat, it is best to add it a little later, on the hot plate, raw form.


Then, focus on the part dedicated to starches, including pulses (lentils, white beans, flageolets, split peas…) that are very satisfying, rich in protein and carbohydrates with low glycemic index. Also, complete pasta, potatoes, rice… bring a qualitative supply. The quality of sweet products must move toward natural syrups of fruit, maple, agave… much better assimilated than their more sophisticated counterparts desalting and acidifying to the body.


Finally, favour the fruits and vegetables of the season for their fiber intake (balance the transit), antioxidant (maintain cell integrity: Beta carotene, vitamins C and E, Selenium, Zinc, copper), elements (alkali) balance the acid base field which tends to bend towards the acid side to the effort: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium,…), vitamins of the Group B (acting at the level of the energy metabolisms, carbohydrate, protein, lipid…).


In this rich colorful group and high nutritional level, promote the intake of (non-exhaustive list):

  • Pineapple (Potassium, Manganese, Sodium, provitamin A, vitamins B…)
  • Avocado (vitamin E…).
  • Bananas (Potassium…),
  • Carrot (Beta Carotene…),
  • Lemon (vitamin C…).
  • Kiwi (vitamin C…).
  • Onions (Potassium, phosphorus, Calcium, Selenium,…),
  • Orange (flavonoids, Vitamin B1, C), grapefruit (vitamin C)
  • Papaya (flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamins B, C, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, phosphorus),
  • Potato (vitamin C, Potassium,…),
  • Radish (Potassium, vitamins B, carotenoids…).
  • … Leek, pumpkin, celery, fennel, parsnips, chard, Salsify, Jerusalem artichoke, cabbage, beetroot, Apple, pear, chestnut, walnut, turnip…


Note: grapefruits seeds oil has « pest control » virtues, antibacterial and antifungal. Made every day during the winter, this allows to positively boost your natural defenses in your organis.


In addition, seafood (scallops, clams, oysters, shrimps…) rich in antioxidants (magnesium, calcium, chromium, copper, selenium…) allow to strengthen the field and thus to become more resistant to winter assault. Also, chronically consumed, honey, natural and full at the micronutrient level, allows you to strengthen your natural defenses.


Improve your dishes’ « health » with spices and herbs!

Possessing protective medicinal virtues on various and very large spheres: microbial (thyme, turmeric…), digestive (paprika, fennel…), diarrheal (nutmeg…), antioxidant, carminative (anise, mint…), carcinogenic (saffron, garlic…). hepatic (nutmeg, pepper,…), dyslipidemic (ginger, sesame…) … The spices and herbs improve flavor and smell, bring variety and avoid the gastronomic monotony!


Take care of your intestines!

Empower your intestinal balance, the intestine is an interface with the external environment. Certainly, the latter allows the digestion and absorption of nutrients, but mostly it acts as a protective barrier against the aggressors from the external environment (toxins, bacteria…).


I therefore advocate a daily diet with probiotics (microbacteria favorable to the health of the intestinal flora) to improve digestion, fermentation of food as well as the parameters of the immunity, no pathogenic microflora of the individual, to prevent infectious diseases, food allergies and stabilizing of the intestinal mucosa. Also, it can be very interesting in the treatment of intestinal diseases (infectious diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome) and improvement of tolerance to lactose. They are naturally present in yoghurts and fermented milk (kefir…). Interesting to prevent any digestive disorders during the races.


Associate Prebiotics (fibre insoluble indigestible whose best-known is inulin, but also the galacto-oligosaccharides and fructo-oligosaccharides) which serve as support by stimulating the growth and development of Probiotics. These Prebiotics are found in fruits and vegetables: beetroot, banana, strawberry, chicory, flax, garlic, onion, honey, leek and cereals such as rye and barley (and derivatives like bread).


In conclusion

A diversified and varied it can be, diet remains a sign of good health and helps optimize your athletic performance. As I often say to the athletes, « having the legs without fuel is as useless as having the fuel without legs « , in other words, « making great preparation but having a bad eating is as bad as eating well without preparation. »




Dietitian Sports Nutritionist


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