There's not a lot you can do about the altitude, but there's a lot you can do to increase your energy, and chances of having an enjoyable trip. Continue reading and learn what to eat in high altitude.
Increase Carbohydrates For Energy
When it comes to nutrition, training at altitude increases the use of carbohydrates for energy compared to training at sea level. Your body is just going to be a bit less efficient and will therefore need more readily-available sources of energy.
This means you may need to put more of an emphasis on carbohydrates in your pre-race or training meal and your overall diet. Inadequate intake of carbohydrates may hinder performance and decrease the time by which you can exercise before bonking or reaching exhaustion.
Focus on good quality carbohydrates, such as:
Oats rather than sugary foods and refined white grains.
Note that we said "quality" carbohydrates!
Avoid increasing carbohydrates from sugary foods and refined white grains. In other words, skip the candy bars, gels and sports drinks and focus on real food.
Remember, vegetables are carbohydrates as well; increasing your intake can be a decent way to get additional nutrients in as well as healthy carbs. Our favorite clean carb source before a day of skiing is a baked sweet potato with butter or coconut oil melted on it, with a dash of cinnamon. It'll give you some quick carbs plus it's a warm breakfast. (Be sure to include some protein in that breakfast as well!)
Increase Iron-Rich Foods
In addition, exposure to altitude increases the production of red blood cells to help carry oxygen around the body, which increases the need for iron. Animal foods contain iron that's well absorbed by the body. Animal foods such as:
Avoid combining these foods with calcium-rich foods like milk, or tea, coffee, and cocoa as they can inhibit absorption of the iron.
Plant foods, such as leafy greens (spinach, chard, beet, collard, etc.), dried fruit, tofu, lentils, oatmeal, beans, and fortified grains also provide iron but it’s not absorbed as well as animal iron.
That's ok though; to increase the absorption of iron from plant foods, combine it with a vitamin C source such as tomato sauce, peppers, oranges, strawberries, or pineapple.
If you still struggle with iron, you should consider taking an iron supplement -one that'seffective, and gentle on your stomach and digestive tract!
I always suggest a twice-yearly iron test especially if you're an active person. Women are of course more susceptible to low iron, but this can happen in men as well. Vegans and vegetarians really need to keep tabs on their iron levels too!
Protect Your Immune System
Lastly, being at altitude puts additional stress on your body and your immune system. Before you ascend and while you are at altitude, be sure to eat foods that are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and support a healthy immune system. Think vegetables and fruits of all colors of the rainbow.
Yellow Bell Peppers
Green Leafy Vegetables
Include at least a serving of vegetables with lunch and dinner and a serving of fruit with breakfast, snack, and/or dessert. Dried fruit is an excellent, portable way to get iron, anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
I know, no fun right? But the effects of alcohol will be enhanced at altitude. In the bloodstream, alcohol interferes with hemoglobin's ability to carry oxygen. Coupled with less oxygen availability that's normally at altitude, you'll really be low on oxygen if you drink.
Also, the diuretic (water-losing) effects of it will be accentuated, and dehydration is always a big risk at altitude. And, getting dehydrated will really sap your energy and contribute to headaches.
Remember though, your diet is only part of your success at altitude. Here are 3 other super important things you need to do, to be ready to play up high.