Skip to main content
Back to Resources

Nordic Nutrition: What to Eat for XC Skiing

Tips & Ideas Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bonking during a 30K race? Huge bummer. With the right nutrition, you can up your performance or just plain have more fun.

All Carbs Are Not Equal

Most of us get the basics—carb up before a big event, pack bars when you’re out for a long ski. But choosing optimal foods more carefully can make a big difference in performance. Even if that means you’re not crabby at the end of a long ski.

In the racing/nutrition world, carbohydrate foods are given a “speed” glycemic rating of 1 to 100 depending on how quickly they affect blood sugar levels: fast, moderate, and slow.

Fast: Foods from 70–100 range
Try: Carrots, Potatoes, Honey, Cornflakes, Bread

Moderate: Foods in the 50s and 60s
Try: Shredded Wheat, Brown Rice, Muesli, and Sweet Potatoes

Slow: Foods in the under-40 range 
Try: bananas, most beans, low-fat dairy, peanuts, edamame 

But for fast effort, fast fuel is good, right? Not quite. Take a “fast” snack too soon, and your body compensates, blood sugar drops in a rebound effect, and you’re draggin’ your wagon. Eat too low on the scale for prolonged exertion and your body runs out of glycogen.


Here’s how to better prepare for a race or even a long Saturday on the trails.

Night Before

Include lots of vegetables, lean proteins, and moderate carbs.

Choose: Steamed veggies, salad, skinless poultry, fish, pasta, sweet potatoes, skim milk
Try: Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Peanut-coconut Sauce Recipe

Breakfast/Before You Ski:

About two to three hours before you ski, opt for a meal with complex carbs from the moderate slow group.

Choose: Whole grain breads, waffles, cereals, muffins
Try: Whole Grain Morning Glory Muffins Recipe
Avoid: Fats like sausage, cheese, and bacon.

During Your Ski

Choose: Fast fuels like energy bars (not protein bars, save those for post-workout), drinks, and gels
Try: Colorado-made Honey Stinger waffles (delish!) or energy gels.

More Resources

View All

How Eating Seasonally Makes You a Healthier Nordic Skier

Getting ready for the Nordic season means more than buying a season punch pass, signing up for events, getting our skis tuned, or doubling down on our cross training—we need to tune our... Read More

Fuel Your Body, Fire Up Your Results

The work you put into improving your technique and physical fitness is important. However, the way you fuel your body and mind is equally important, if not more so. Much like a car needs gasoline,... Read More

Help protect Colorado’s natural beauty for future generations

View Stewardship Resources
Proudly funded by the Colorado Tourism Office