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Delicious cold meats and fruit allies of high-altitude athletes

For nutritionist biologist Elisabetta Bernardi, «the combination of cold cuts and fruit is optimal due to the presence in the latter of vitamin C, which is essential to facilitate the absorption of the non-heme iron present in cold cuts in addition to the heme iron, which is more easily absorbed»

06, Dec 2022

The most important nutritional challenges for cross-country skiers, who are exposed to even extreme environmental conditions, relate to high energy expenditure (the daily energy consumption of a cross-country athlete varies from 4,780 to 5,985 kcal!), faster utilisation of carbohydrate reserves in the form of muscle and liver glycogen, increased fluid loss and increased iron turnover. What then to put in your rucksack? Energy and key nutrients such as water, carbohydrates, protein, iron.

IVSIIstituto Valorizzazione Salumi Italiani asked nutritionist biologist Elisabetta Bernardi for her contribution on this important aspect of “off-mountain”: «While high-altitude sporting activities accelerate the production of new red blood cells (an excellent adaptation, especially for endurance athletes), they also require a higher consumption of iron reserves, which, if inadequate, can lead to fatigue, frequent headaches, shortness of breath, and compromise recovery».

An approach that is also confirmed by winter sports champions, such as Matteo Eydallin, ski-mountaineer of the Italian national team, winner of the Individual World Championship in 2021 and ambassador of the Let's EAT project, who on his relationship with food revealed: «My diet never lacks cold meats and fruit, which are perfect for post-competition recovery and to supply the muscles with all the oxygen they need. In short, a nice bresaola and apple sandwich after putting down the skis is always a good idea!».

The value of the only apparently unusual combination of cold cuts and fruit is also emphasised by Elisabetta Bernardi, who specified that: «the combination of cold meats and fruit is optimal thanks to the presence in the latter of vitamin C, which is fundamental for facilitating the absorption of the non-heme iron present in cold meats in addition to the heme iron, which is more easily absorbed».

Basically, to optimise recovery, the ideal mountain snack should be eaten within 15-30 minutes after finishing training or winter activity and be rich in carbohydrates and protein, precisely to facilitate glycogen deposition and the absorption of essential protein amino acids, respectively. Good options could be small cold meat sandwiches to try with fruit, to supplement the ready-to-use carbohydrates and vitamin C.

Some practical and tasty ideas? Sandwich with speck and apple; milk sandwich with bresaola, kiwi and rocket; bread roll with mortadella, kiwi and beetroot hummus; piadina with crudo, apple and spinach; walnut bread with bresaola, apple and parmesan flakes.

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