Food to fuel your ski day


This Issue: Smart food choices to get the most out of your ski day

Marcel Hoelzerr

Swiss-trained chef Marcel Holzherr has run critically acclaimed restaurants in Canmore and Banff Alberta, been a private chef at a BC heli-ski lodge and run cooking classes for athletes to help them make good nutritional choices. His ability to cater to athletes’ unique dietary needs led to his role as chef for Canada’s alpine ski team at the 2002 Salt Lake City, 2006 Turin, and 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. In 2014, he’ll be heading to Sochi to cook for Canada’s cross-country team. Below, Marcel shares his advice on the best foods to fuel your own ski day, whether you’re a hard-skiing powder hound or a family with kids.


A good breakfast at home will have you feeling energized and ready as soon as you hit the ski hill. Marcel recommends something like porridge (steel-cut oats) or buckwheat pancakes with lots of fresh fruit and natural yoghurt, or eggs with pan-fried potatoes. In his experience, the natural carbs in potatoes stay with you longer and keep you feeling energetic without feeling full. “When you eat clean fuel your body recovers quicker – it can burn and absorb the food more quickly. If you feel tired, it’s because your ingredients aren’t great.”

Tip: For quick and nutritious hash browns, boil potatoes the night before and roast or pan fry them in the morning. Avoid flavoured yoghurts and go for natural – it contains less sugar and sweeteners


Most hills don’t offer great food options, so Marcel says he always packs his own. The keys to a lunch that will replenish your energy and rebuild your muscle cells for the second half of your ski day are a light protein (white meat or fish, or veggie sources from lentils or dried beans), along with carbs. This kind of protein is lighter and easier to digest than red meat. Eating carbs and protein together helps both to digest more easily.

Marcel’s favourite lunch choices are a sandwich and home-made bean salad. For the sandwich, choose spelt bread (or some sort of whole or ancient grain) and fill with avocado, turkey breast and cream cheese, plus any other vegetables you like – lettuce, tomato etc. The bean salad is any combination of dried beans (dried lentils, chick peas, kidney beans, black peas etc.) which provide an excellent vegetable protein.

Some mountains, like Whistler, do offer a wide range of choices. If buying your lunch in the ski lodge, make smart choices: go for chili, soup or even the salad bar. Pizza might even be OK if it’s a homemade flatbread. Remember – you’re looking for a combination of light protein (white meat or vegetable protein) and a whole grain carbohydrate.

Tip: To make bean salad the night before, soak then boil the beans till softened. Mix with olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper.


A small bag of nuts and dried fruit will fit in your pocket and be easy to carry and eat on the chairlift between runs. Pack any mix you like: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts along with dried fruits like mangos, coconut, apples, raisins, figs and dates. Eating smaller amounts throughout the day means you’ll never feel hungry – especially important if you’re going to go out and ski hard for several hours without a break.

Tip: Figs and dates in particular are an excellent natural sugar source. Marcel uses fig and date bars for skiers who have to wait hours in the warming hut during weather delays, because it enables them to maintain their energy but keep their stomachs empty and be ready to race on a moment’s notice. They’re great for recreational skiers too, especially kids.

Stay Hydrated

You might not think you’re thirsty when you’re out skiing in the cold, certainly not the way you’d feel on a hot run or in the gym. But Marcel cautions that most people get very dehydrated when they ski. You might also feel dizzy from altitude. Water is very important, and he suggests everyone carry a water bottle. Tea is a good alternative if you need a warm-up at lunch, but avoid pop, coffee and alcohol which are all dehydrating. Remember if you drink several cups of coffee before you hit the slopes in the morning, you’ll need to drink extra water during the day to rehydrate.