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Terry James Walker

Nutrition for ski racing and training

Weight Gain for a Ski Racer - Tips for getting heavy

The Summer months are vitally important preparation time for a Ski Instructor trying to pass a Euro Speed Test. In this brief article I explain the eating tactics I used in the lead up to mine

Here is an explanation of the timescales and background that I had leading up to passing my eurotest:  5 weeks eurotest training in Autumn 2011, then I went to one test during that season and missed by about 2.5 seconds.  At the time I weighed about 65kg, with minimal leg muscle!  I figured for the following Autumn of training I would put on some bulk.  Summer 2012, I found out about my wheat/gluten intolerance, and lost even more weight, and was finding it hard to put back on.
So here's what got me up to about 73kg in Summer 2012, ready for a decent Autumn, of Race Training and dry land conditioning with the JJC Training boys.
I was due to be training in Saas Fee, a north facing glacier at about 3100-3600m.  So there's not much sun, not much air, and not much warmth... All these factors make it very hard to get enough calories on board to keep the weight up and stop muscle degeneration.  I worked out very crudely what my basel metabolic rate of calorie usage was (online here) and it came out at about 1700.  And I had no real idea what I was going to be using during training, but from working out what I ate and the fact that I maintained my weight, I reckon it was somewhere near 3000 calories... I was eating about 4500-4700 a day.

So, how did I put on nearly 10kg (no bread or pasta) in the Summer, and not lose it in the Alps?  Well, here is a few of the things that I did/ate.
1.  Ate/drank a 'mass gainer'  which is 2/3rd Carbs to 1/3 protein.  Gaining about 1000 calories a day extra.
2. Went to a gym occasionally and did some squats.
3. Cut out alcohol (which could go either way with weight I guess, but helped my train harder)
4. Put a thick layer of butter on my gluten free bread rather than thin layer of healthy spread.
5. Drank less water, more chocolate milk, and fruit juices. (Though still put away at least a litre of water a day)
6. Surrounded myself with nuts and dried fruit mixes, salami and cheese.... anything tasty and calorific.
7. Tried to get better sleep for more hours.  Try one of the sleep apps on the iPhone or Android market to help measure this.
8. Reduced long distance/endurance exercises (anything over about 20 minutes)  I have a very active job so skiing in a course for 50 seconds didn't really require cardio training.  Again I could be way off the scientific mark here, but it helped me.

So there you go.  Apparently about 7500 calories equates to a Kilo of body fat, but we need to remember that every excess calorie you eat doesn't necessarily get put into fat/muscle recruitment.  In some of the academic journals I've read (!) it mentions that plenty of people will shrug off extra calories by raising their body temperature a bit, or fidgeting more.  So those people need to eat even more.  I definately put on fat along with muscle, as my body fat % was somewhere between 5 and 10, this wasn't a problem for me.  Your body definitely requires these calories for muscle gain, and it was fairly easy to put muscle on with this excess of calories in my diet.  People who try and lose fat whilst simultaneously gaining muscle, will tell you how hard (if not impossible) it is.  In fact there is probably an interesting paper to be written about that, as I recon muscle gain whilst losing fat is pretty much a fallacy.

Other than gaining or losing weight my top tip for eurotesting is: get better at skiing.  Strength/weight/conditioning was probably 10% contributer towards me passing, and getting technically better was a massive part. Check out the photos  ;)