Winter Nutrition: How to Stay on Track

In colder months, it can become shockingly easy to break every good nutrition habit you built during the season—especially with the fridge just steps away from the bike trainer. "Proper workout nutrition is something people tend to neglect in the winter," says Kim Schwabenbauer, newly-turned professional triathlete and registered dietitian.

This was a busy year for Schwabenbauer. This summer, she balanced her own final preparation for Lake Placid while serving as the triathlon coach for the MTV reality series "Made – I Want to be a Triathlete" that was filmed in July. On the series, Schwabenbauer helps Branden, a 16-year-old boy, go from couch surfer to triathlete in just three weeks. This required building his functional strength and teaching him how to kayak, bike and run for the Pittsburgh Adventure Triathlon.

Not only did Branden achieve his goal, but Schwabenbauer also finished first among all female age-groupers at Ironman Lake Placid. Based on her identical placing at Ironman Cozumel in 2010, Schwabenbauer decided to finally take the plunge and apply for her pro card this fall.

We caught up with her just before the show aired this winter to get her best advice on how to eat right when indoor training sessions become the norm. She offered five rules to make sure your body gets the best nutrition in the winter months to guarantee a great season in 2012.

1. Get basic eating habits right. "Have three balanced meals and two snacks per day," she said. "People tend to eat nothing all morning. By the time 11 o'clock rolls around, people are starving and searching for the office candy jar."

Those bad habits can continue through dinner. "Some people may end up consuming a majority of their calories between 7 and 10 p.m., right before a long period of inactivity and lowered metabolism." The goal should be to eat consistently every two to three hours. This will maintain your energy levels and blood sugar and keep your hunger from reaching the point where you grab the first thing in sight to eat. 

Plan your snacks in advance to get the right nutrition. Nuts, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and fruit, or low fat cheese and whole wheat crackers make the grade for healthy snacks, says Schwabenbauer.

2. Eat a snack two to three hours before your workout and hydrate properly. Schwabenbauer advises to consciously hydrate before a workout by drinking at least 8 ounces or even 16 ounces of water.

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