Nutrition for the Winter Runner

By: Jan Dowell, MS, RD, CSSD

Get the most out of your winter running program with these nutrition tips:

  • More carbohydrates are burned during activity in cold temperatures. Does this mean you need more carbs during the winter? Probably not, if the training schedule is lighter or you are training on a treadmill. If you are training for a winter event, keep up with a good intake of carbs, including fresh fruit and whole grains.
  • Fluid intake is important for the winter runner. We live and work in dry homes and offices and then proceed to work up a great sweat on a run. The thirst drive is less in cold temperatures, too, so we may not be replacing the fluids lost as we would in the summer. Hydration status has an impact on the body’s core temperature, another reason to replace your fluids! Water is great for runs under an hour; a sports drink is ideal for runs or workouts lasting over an hour.
  • The winter is a great time to restock your body with nutrition from real foods that you don’t take time for or can’t tolerate during a heavy running schedule in the heat. It’s simple: eat a variety of fresh foods from each food group every day. It’s dark at 4:30 so you might as well cook something healthy.

Winter Recovery Snack Ideas:

  • Warm soups provide nutrient-loaded carbs with the sodium you’ve been sweating out. Veggies and beans in the soup are a nutrition bonus!
  • Hot chocolate made dark cocoa with nonfat milk is a great carb and protein combination
  • Green tea with biscotti and a small handful of nuts is a healthy snack after a run.

Jan Dowell, MS, RD, CSSD is a Board Certified Sports Dietitian and a runner. Get more nutrition and hydration training tips from Jan at