Regardless of altitude, nutritional goals during exercise consist of 1.) Replacing fluid losses and 2.) Providing enough carbohydrates (approximately 30-60 grams each hour) to maintain consistent blood glucose during workouts lasting longer than 1 hour. These guidelines however are especially critical when training in altitudes above 8,200 feet (ADA, 2009).
Fluid loss through respiration is associated with any exercise. However, as elevation increases, so does respiration rate. Higher respiration rates mean greater fluid loss. Therefore careful attention should be paid to stay well hydrated during higher elevation workouts.
Endurance training extending over one hour, regardless of elevation, requires easily digested carbohydrate-rich foods in order to maintain stabile blood glucose levels and prevent depletion of fuel to the muscles (SCAN, 2009). It’s best to steer clear of foods high in protein, fat, and fiber as these foods can take a while to digest and may lead to cramping. Easily digestible carbohydrate examples to try during the climb may include:
Bread with jam
Sports bars or gels
Crackers with honey
Training in higher elevations can potentially deplete iron stores over time. This holds especially true for women of childbearing age, adolescents, and vegetarians. So it’s a good idea to consider having regular screenings to assess iron status and maintain a healthy balanced diet to help replace iron stores after workouts. A few examples could include:
Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with fresh spinach salad
Beef broccoli stir-fry with brown rice
Lentil soup with fruit salad
Therefore, regardless of the elevation when exercising, it’s best to stay well hydrated and ensure you fuel up on the right foods at the right time for optimal performance.
Position Statement of the American Dietetic Association (ADA): Nutrition and Athletic Performance. (2009). Retrieved 08/25/2013, http://www.scandpg.org/local/resources/files/2010/PP_NutritionAthleticPerforman
Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN)-Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Practice Group: Nutrition Fact Sheet: Eating During Exercise. (2009). Retrieved 08/25/2013, http://www.scandpg.org/local/resources/files/2009/SD-USA_Fact_Sheet_Eating_Duri