I spent this week in Park City, Utah snowboarding with a good friend of mine. I was interested to see how nutritional ketosis affected my performance on the slopes! I’d characterize my self as a beginning intermediate level snowboarder. I can heel and toe edge on the board pretty comfortably but I still get nervous at high speeds and I don’t do any jumps or tricks. I’m content just going up and down and taking in the scenery. Until this trip, I hadn’t boarded in about 2 years so I was definitely rusty.
Because of my gas out while doing BJJ the prior week, I wanted to make sure it didn’t happen to me again so that I could maximize my time on the slopes (lift tickets are pretty damn expensive). I bought some bouillon cubes from Whole Foods that contain around 900 mg of sodium per cube, and made sure I drank some before and after snowboarding. I also started taking the magnesium supplements (Slow-Mag) recommended by Volek and Phinney. Another thing I tried experimenting with was the use of compression gear, which I’ll get into in another post.
After each day of riding, we ended the day by soaking in the hot tub (this should be the way to end every day), and I topped it off with a bit of foam rolling (yes I brought a foam roller with me).
Compared to how I felt when I last snowboarded over 2 years ago, I could tell a big difference. I felt less sore and had more stamina on the slopes. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t call myself Shaun White or anything, but I wasn’t plagued with the total body soreness I used to experience that would make it hard to just walk around and do simple things like go to the bathroom (I remember getting up from a seated position was excruciating since my quads would be so beat up). During this trip I actually didn’t experience much soreness at all.
On the slopes, I rarely got hungry and didn’t suffer from the effects of hypoglycemia or bonking. I felt like I had enough energy to keep going all day long or at least until the slopes got too crowded and I stopped having as much fun.
By the last day I will admit that I was fatigued and we ended up cutting the day short, but compared to my past trips, I was much less fatigued and much less sore.
If I were to approach this experience like an actual experiment I don’t think I could draw any real conclusions since so many variables were changed. My control group would have to be my prior self, during my last snowboarding trip 2 years ago.
In the interval 2 years a lot has changed including:
- Overall weight loss
- Improved conditioning with more regular BJJ and Crossfit
- Over 60 days of nutritional ketosis
Along with the changes I made just for this trip:
- Bouillon cubes
- Magnesium supplements
- Daily hot tub soaks
- Daily foam rolling
- Usage of compression gear
So while it probably isn’t accurate for me to attribute my improved performance on the slopes to my diet, I still feel comfortable at least attributing my steady energy level and lack of hunger to being in nutritional ketosis. I also feel pretty good about knowing what to do for my next ski trip, and it’ll include all of the above!
Despite my ketones only measuring greater than 0.5 mmol 4 of the 8 days, I’m still pretty happy with the results, considering the fact that we ate out for every meal. It was surprisingly easy to eat a ketogenic diet on this trip, I’d simply order a burger, add some avocados, and hold the bun. Sometimes I’d add an egg or bacon.
My ketones dropped down to 0.4 mmol for a 2 consecutive days and which I think might’ve had something to do with the cabernet sauvignon I indulged in the previous evenings. Also my ketones dropped down to 0.2 mmol on the last day because I had a slice of chocolate cake the night before (it was included with my steak dinner and I just couldn’t let it go to waste! I valiantly tried to substitute it for vegetables and when they wouldn’t let me sub it, I gave in…)
My weight was essentially unchanged with a slight gain of 0.8 lbs, but I did briefly reach a new low!
My blood glucose was sub 85 the entire time (except for the last day where I went up to 90 thanks to the chocolate cake) and averaged 81.75.