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Get Stuffed - Breakfast of champions

The most important meal of the day is more important for skiers and boarders



At a local event a few years ago, my husband, Danby, and I were wandering through the crowd when Steve Podborski and members of his family happened to be standing beside us. Danby, never a shy person, went straight up to Mrs. Podborski, Steve’s mother, and asked her what she had fed her son for breakfast while he was growing up that helped to make him such a fine skiier. I was shrivelling with embarrassment, showing Mrs. Podborski a sheepish grin and a shrug of the shoulders to indicate how unlike my husband I could be when she answered definitively and proudly, "Oatmeal!" Since that evening, Danby has always eaten oatmeal for breakfast before heading out to the slopes.

Similarly, Danby’s best friend Henry, the most naturally talented skier I know, is religious in his breakfast eating habits during ski season. Henry tops 100 days on the mountains each winter even though he resides in Ontario. He packs up shop for four months each year toting a tin of his mother’s homemade muesli. His family is Swiss. He guards that tin with his life and measures out the same amount each morning, mixing it with condensed milk. A kiwi fruit rounds out the meal along with a whole pot of black tea. Henry and Danby are able to ski four to five hours without the need to refuel with food after these breakfasts – with the exception of a few chocolate covered coffee beans, jujubes and sour face pullers that are eaten on the go.

It is not news that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for children and teens in school learning all day. But what about eating breakfast to increase your energy for sport activities? While researching for this column I became curious to learn what the average day skier might choose to eat for their sustaining meal of the day; what people might choose to fuel their body to allow them to take full advantage of a single day’s lift ticket? To garner such information I accosted people waiting in the lift line around mid-morning on Sunday. Surprisingly there are several (adult) people who like to eat a bowl of Frosted Flakes for breakfast. Lots of people eat bagels or toast with peanut butter. The most interesting breakfast one woman admitted to was leftover ribs from the previous night’s dinner, with a slice of carrot cake. Unfortunately, the majority of people that I asked were tackling the hill with an empty stomach and several of those people did not seem overly keen admitting to this fact.

It is easy to skip that first meal of the day when you are in a mad dash to get to the mountain, to be first in line at the Peak chair or to boot pack up Spanky’s Ladder. Without breakfast, though, you will feel fatigue starting to creep into your muscles far sooner than if you had eaten. The best type of food to fuel the start/stop action of downhill skiing or boarding comes from eating a meal made up mostly (55 to 75 per cent) of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are made up of fibre, simple sugars and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates include things like table sugar, candies, soda or pastries like donuts. These are virtually empty calories without vitamin or mineral content. Complex carbohydrates and fibre are found in items like bread, pasta, grains, cereals and starchy vegetables like potatoes, beans and peas. Complex carbohydrates contain many nutrients that are essential to the body and they provide the most beneficial source of energy for sports activities.

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