Working out in cold-weather temperatures takes grit, stamina, and the right nutrients. Beyond mentally steeling yourself to brave bitter, unforgiving conditions, your body torches more calories than it does in warmer temps, making muscle repair even more essential to prevent injury.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Human Biology evaluated the calorie expenditure of 53 athletes (both men and women) participating in a vigorous National Outdoor Leadership School program in Wyoming. Participants who hiked in temperatures ranging from 15-23 degrees Fahrenheit burned 34% more calories than athletes hiking in temperatures in the mid-50s. And the thing is, to maintain your body composition, greater calorie expenditure means greater need for food intake — especially protein, the primary macronutrient for muscle growth and repair.
“It’s recommended that athletes who do endurance training should increase their protein intake,” says Annalee Althouse, RDN, CYI at Bayfield Hospital in Dover, DE. “This is because of amino acid oxidation, or the loss of amino acids due to the body breaking down skeletal muscle.” Fueling up post exercise with a combination of carbohydrates and protein — especially in cold-weather temperatures when your caloric needs are higher in general — is important to reduce soreness and optimize muscle remodeling and repair, she says.
But, if you're tired of your same old powder-and-supplement routine, don’t despair. According to another study in the journal Nutrients, consuming whole foods high in protein may actually be easier to metabolize, anyways. On that note, we pulled together our easy, Spartan-approved, high-protein snacks to inspire your cold-weather cooking and help you recover fast.
Healthy High-Protein Snacks to Fuel Up After Cold-Weather Workouts
Fall Fruit Dip
This is Althouse’s go-to protein snack for cooler weather because you can incorporate seasonal fruit for extra fiber and a dose of healthy carbohydrates. She recommends slathering the dip on a plate of peaches, or scooping it up with fresh-picked apples, sliced and sourced from your local orchard.
- 1 cup plain greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup peanut butter or almond butter
- 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup
- dash of cinnamon (to taste)
- dash of nutmeg (to taste)
- drizzle of caramel sauce (optional)
Mix all ingredients together. Served chilled or not — your choice.
Chicken Chips & Turkey Bites
When you hear the word chips, you probably think: empty carbs and trans fats, and rightly so. Most chips (made from potatoes) are processed that way. But Gone Rogue Protein Chips are no ordinary snack. These crunchy, all-natural cuts of lean chicken are first smoked in a smokehouse, then air-baked and seasoned to taste. Plus, they pack a punch at 17+ grams of protein and just one gram of carbohydrates per serving. Not a fan of chicken? Fear not. The brand new (and all-natural, of course!) Turkey Bites give you 10 grams of protein, and only three grams of carbs and two grams of sugar — ideal to grab and go when you’re in a rush.
Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie
In lieu of mixing your protein powder with water as many brands recommend (boring!), we asked Althouse for her favorite smoothie recipe that’s powder forward but amplified with whole foods, too. Because you can have the best of both worlds.
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- 1 large ripe banana
- 1 cup unsweetened almond protein milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 5 ice cubes (optional)
Blend all ingredients together. Enjoy promptly.
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