Skip the apres ski? Boycott burgers? Vitamin specialists weigh in on Summit County’s mountain city life-style and the way to attain peak well being.
A burger, fries and beer sit on a desk at TBar Bar and Grill as skiers and snowboarders make their means across the slopes of Peak 8 at Breckenridge Ski Resort on Thursday, March 16, 2023.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Day by day Information

Editor’s Word: That is the primary story in a four-part collection that may publish each Thursday.

The pure attract of the Rocky Mountains and its plentiful out of doors recreation alternatives lured Karn Stiegelmeier to Summit County. 

“I used to be simply out of school,” Stiegelmeier recalled of her transfer in 1975. “What did I do? I needed to be a ski bum.”

Quick on money, Stiegelmeier stopped by the one grocery retailer on Primary Avenue in Frisco and acquired a big bag of apples and a large pack of peanuts. For a number of weeks, she survived on little else — working as a cross-country ski teacher and hitting the slopes in her free time all of the whereas.

A marathoner, whitewater kayaker and skier, Stiegelmeier has lived in Summit County for nearly three a long time. Right here, she stated, it could actually appear to be persons are hooked on their favourite out of doors actions — from winter sports activities to mountain climbing, mountain biking, rafting and extra.

“The traditional story is: ‘I got here right here to ski, and I stayed as a result of it’s simply a lot enjoyable,’” Stiegelmeier stated. 

Patios typically change into locations the place locals and guests congregate to get pleasure from a drink after an extended time out on the mountain, and resort cities’ plentiful bars provide fast-casual eating and fat-laden treats to satisfy people’ starvation after calorie-burning exercises. These moments are a reprieve from Summit County’s health- and environment-centric life-style that fosters excessive scores with regards to nationwide information concerning well being, however apres ski tradition and hearty meals are ingrained within the Excessive Nation tradition, Stiegelmeier stated.

Locals’ love for the outside is a part of what has made Summit County one of the lively counties within the nation. Out of Colorado’s 64 counties, Summit ranks fourth for its exercise price, in response to Colorado Division of Well being and Surroundings reviews.

Nationally, the estimated median price of bodily inactivity is about 26%, however within the area together with Summit, Eagle, Garfield and Grand counties the inactivity price is nearer to 10%, a 2013 examine by the Colorado Division of Public Well being and Surroundings discovered.

In the meantime, weight problems charges in Summit County have traditionally been decrease than a overwhelming majority of the nation. The state well being division’s examine additionally discovered that the area together with Summit, Eagle, Garfield and Grand counties had the bottom prevalence of weight problems in Colorado — which is already the second-leanest state in the USA.

However whether or not eating on a ski bum’s price range or having fun with the facilities of a resort neighborhood — the place burgers and beers are among the many commonest menu objects — is being bodily lively sufficient to outweigh the necessity for a nutritious diet?

Skipping the Apres Ski

As an avid kayaker in her youthful years, Stiegelmeier remembers stocking coolers filled with beer earlier than her many rafting journeys. When she completed her first marathon, her associates have been ready — beer in hand — on the end line.

“It’s a part of the tradition — the sense of: ‘We’re going snowboarding, and we’re going to have a drink,’” Stiegelmeier stated. “It appears fairly common. Summit County is certainly extra of a celebration place than a whole lot of locations, and I feel that’s a part of being a vacationer city.”

Dandi Hussey, heart, sips her beer as Devon Rosson, left, and Chad Hussey, proper, watch skiers and snowboarders make their means down the slopes at Copper Mountain Resort on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. The group sits on this identical spot yearly in Heart Village after a day on the mountain as a solution to loosen up and revel in each other’s firm whereas on trip.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Day by day Information

For practically each subculture of bodily exercise obtainable in Summit County, there’s a subculture of ingesting to go together with it. Slopeside bars make it straightforward to finish a day on the mountain with a number of cocktails, and after mountain climbing or summiting a 14er, many search out a chilly beer as a solution to soothe sore muscle mass.

However whereas specialists acknowledge that many individuals take pleasure in alcoholic drinks after a strenuous day of bodily exercise, they are saying booze has extra drawbacks than advantages with regards to diet.

Heath Gasier is an assistant professor of anesthesiology on the Duke College Faculty of Drugs whose analysis has targeted on efficiency diet at excessive elevations. Whereas many lively adults could select to finish the day with an alcoholic drink, Gasier stated “moderation is vital.”

Alcohol can inhibit an antidiuretic hormone that promotes water loss and causes dehydration. Gasier added that many individuals who’ve spent the day exercising could already be at a loss for water, so alcohol can exacerbate that dehydration.

Since alcohol impairs judgment, Gasier stated individuals generally substitute meals with a number of drinks. That particularly can go away an individual feeling sluggish or burnt out the subsequent day, he stated, since there’s nothing to revive their power ranges or replenish vitamins and nutritional vitamins.

“Lots of people go on ski journeys, they usually’re not acclimatizing to the setting. They’re simply going to ski and go to the pub each night time and simply cope with it,” Gasier stated. “Is it one of the best strategy? No.”

Erika Bettermann, a Denver-based dietician who focuses on sports activities diet, famous that along with dehydration, alcohol can disrupt sleep, impression digestion and impair the physique’s capacity to soak up vitamins and nutritional vitamins.

Specifically, alcohol can inhibit the physique’s capacity to take up B Nutritional vitamins, that are wanted for power metabolism and glycogen synthesis, Bettermann stated. Glycogen is a type of glucose and a foremost supply of power saved within the muscle mass.

After too many drinks “you’re not going to have the ability to retailer all of the power you want for the subsequent day,” Bettermann stated. So, earlier than an extended day on the slopes or mountaineering a 14,000-foot-tall mountain, it’s most likely higher to take it straightforward.

Nonetheless, for many who are simply trying to benefit from the mountains and have enjoyable — relatively than push their limits or crush a private report — alcohol could not have many dietary advantages, however a drink or two most likely received’t put an excessive amount of of a damper on their recreation, Gasier added.

Downhill Duke’s bartender Mo Ginsburg pours a beer close to the bottom of Heart Village at Copper Mountain Resort as she talks to a visitor on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. Nutritionists say having a beer after an extended day of bodily exercise isn’t unhealthy, however they are saying moderation is vital to keep away from impacts to nourishment.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Day by day Information

Stiegelmeier famous that usually ingesting “is simply a part of having enjoyable and celebrating and socializing with associates.”

Glasier agreed.

“Folks have to know that it’s okay to do this,” he stated. “Particularly if you’re consuming a whole lot of power, house it out over the course of the holiday. That’s one of the best recommendation I might give someone.”

Going eco-friendly 

Rising up, Stiegelmeier was by no means a fan of the style of meat and would sneak her plate beneath the desk to feed the household canine.

These days, Stiegelmeier is nicely accustomed to a vegetarian food plan. It hasn’t simply offered her with the nutritional vitamins, vitamins and power she wanted for an lively life-style filled with kayaking, mountaineering and snowboarding. Additionally it is higher for the planet, one thing that many recreationists in Summit care deeply about.

“The essential vegetarian food plan is a lot more healthy for the planet,” she stated. “Carbon launched from meat merchandise is large.”

This graph reveals the variety of kilos of carbon dioxide launched when producing a serving of varied meals merchandise, in response to the College of Michigan Heart for Sustainable Techniques.
Steven Josephson/Summit Day by day Information

Residing within the Rocky Mountains, Stiegelmeier stated she — and plenty of different Summit County residents — has developed a powerful appreciation for the pure world.

“For most individuals, for those who simply exit for a hike or a cross-country ski, you simply try this,” she stated. “However for those who do it for very lengthy, you begin to get a way of how a lot you just like the setting and the way a lot you care about it.”

Regardless of some misconceptions, diets structured primarily round vegetation and greens have a mess of well being advantages too, particularly for people who find themselves bodily lively, in response to Jerry Casados, a Denver-based dietician who makes a speciality of serving to individuals transition to a plant-based life-style.

Casados stated most individuals search out his experience for well being causes — together with assist managing weight reduction, autoimmune problems or excessive ldl cholesterol. He stated he began consuming a plant-based food plan himself greater than a decade in the past after his physician confirmed him photos of his coronary heart and clogged arteries.

“I take a look at it as a holistic strategy,” Casados stated. “As a result of it actually heals the entire physique.”

Plant-based diets can reverse the results of Kind 2 Diabetes and coronary heart illness, decrease blood strain and ldl cholesterol and enhance bowel actions and acid reflux disorder. On high of that, there are all of the environmental advantages as nicely.

One in all Pure Kitchen’s vegan energy bowls is pictured on the restaurant in Frisco on Sept. 25, 2022.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Day by day Information

Animal agriculture is a resource-intensive trade, Casados stated, with livestock akin to cows releasing massive quantities of methane — a potent greenhouse fuel that contributes to local weather change. 

In keeping with the College of Colorado Environmental Heart, elevating livestock for human consumption generates practically 15% of complete greenhouse fuel emissions worldwide — greater than all transportation emissions mixed.

Whereas an space the dimensions of two soccer fields might feed 14 individuals residing on a plant-based food plan, the identical space might solely feed two individuals if used for animal agriculture, Casados stated. So even lowering your meat consumption by only a couple meals per week can have a constructive environmental impression, he stated.

So far as plant-based meat alternate options — like Past Meat or Unimaginable Meals — go, whereas they style loads like meat and are an excellent transition meals for individuals simply beginning a plant-based food plan, they’re extremely processed and never a lot more healthy than the actual factor, Casados stated.

Regardless of common perception, Casados stated, it isn’t tough to get the nutritional vitamins, minerals, amino acids and protein from a plant-based food plan. Although individuals ought to eat a big number of fruit and veggies for the total advantages of a plant-based food plan.

“Range is the important thing to plant-based diets,” Casados stated. “Simply eat a bunch of all the pieces — what we name the rainbow.”

A cup of broccoli, for instance, accommodates extra calcium than a glass of milk, Casados stated. In the meantime beans are typically excessive in protein and potatoes provide each protein and sophisticated carbohydrates — that are greater in fiber and vitamins than easy carbohydrates like sugar.

Actually, individuals consuming a plant-based food plan solely require two vitamin dietary supplements because of the lack of meat of their food plan, Casados stated. About as soon as per week, he recommends individuals who select a plant-based life-style take Vitamin D and Vitamin B-12 dietary supplements — though somebody who spends time outdoors within the solar could not even require a Vitamin D complement.

Noting that even a number of the world’s largest animals — like elephants, horses and hippos — eat primarily plant-based diets, Casados stated there isn’t any cause people can not do the identical. Extra ceaselessly, he added, excessive athletes like ultramarathon runners are turning to plant-based diets for the advantages they’ll present by way of blood stream and power ranges.

“These athletes say their restoration time is shorter, they’ve loads of power, they’ll go eternally,” he stated. “There’s extra oxygen transferring with the blood with a plant-based food plan. You’re actually enhancing your power degree with the blood stream.”

Surveying the menu

A day filled with bodily exercise is bound to go away stomachs growling. So in one of many county’s most lively communities, it’s no shock that almost all evenings vacationers and locals alike flock to the eating places, pubs and fast-casual eateries that line ski city streets.

As Summit County has grown over time, Stiegelmeier stated she has seen the restaurant and bar trade develop in tandem, particularly as tourism has change into increasingly more a function of the county’s financial system.

“By the character of being a vacationer city, you must have quick-to-grab, satisfying meals. I feel it’s human nature to need fast, satisfying issues that aren’t actually that good for you,” Stiegelmeier stated. “It looks as if there’s all the time extra burgers and pubs and fast and simple fixes in Summit.”

However specialists say that relatively than giving into the longing for a fast repair instantly, somewhat thought whereas surveying the menu can go a good distance — particularly for many who are bodily lively and need to preserve their power ranges for the subsequent day’s outing.

“I’ve been to only a few locations that don’t provide wholesome meals,” Glasier stated.

A southern chop salad crammed with lettuce, avocado, grilled corn, black beans, shredded pepper jack cheese, tomatoes, crimson onions, tortilla strips and jalapeno ranch is pictured on at TBar Bar and Grill at Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Peak 8 base space on Thursday, March 16, 2023. Whereas many bars provide burgers, pulled pork and hearty soups, most provide wholesome choices filled with plant-based proteins like black beans, nuts and quinoa.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Day by day Information

For these expending a whole lot of power, wholesome meals is all the time going to be higher, although he stated he understands the attract of a burger and fries on the finish of an exhausting day, Glasier stated, and whereas a grilled hen breast with entire grain rice might be splendid on a regular basis, that’s merely not practical for many People. Nevertheless, changing a burger patty with that hen breast will minimize down on fat that may inhibit an individual’s capacity to hydrate, and changing french fries with steamed greens can present extra of the nutritional vitamins and vitamins the physique must recoup after an extended day.

Bettermann famous that, whereas tasty, processed and fatty fried meals can have a unfavourable impression on individuals’s capacity to recreate the subsequent day. Greasy, heavier meals take longer to digest due to their excessive fats content material, she stated, leaving the abdomen full for longer, which might improve the possibilities of heartburn and acid reflux disorder.

“If we’re speaking about discomfort whereas mountaineering, (fried meals) can wreak havoc on the intestine the subsequent day,” Bettermann stated. “Excessive-fat, processed meals are sometimes one thing to attempt to keep away from.”

Plant-based fat like these present in avocados, nuts and seeds are sometimes a more sensible choice for these trying to interact in strenuous bodily exercise, she stated.

Regardless of some common myths about carbohydrates, Bettermann stated carbs are an particularly necessary meals group that folks ought to you’ll want to eat sufficient of — particularly when exercising recurrently, as a result of the physique makes use of carbs to make glucose for power.

Josh Walker sprinkles toasted sesame seeds on a vegan Pure Thai Bowl at Pure Kitchen Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Pure Kitchen makes use of vegan-based meals to permit patrons to customise their order to accommodate dietary restrictions whereas nonetheless providing traditional proteins like meat.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Day by day Information

When selecting from a menu, individuals ought to take into account how they usually eat — as a result of altering that hastily might shock the physique — in addition to how a lot they exercised that day and the way a lot they plan to train the subsequent a number of days, Glasier stated. 

Continuously consuming fatty processed meals or sugary sweets — which give a fast power increase then a crash — is more likely to lead a extremely lively particular person to run an power deficit and change into burned out, he stated. However, so long as these meals aren’t being consumed day-in and day-out, a bodily lively particular person might be in a position to “cheat” somewhat bit greater than their much less lively counterparts.

“That burger and fries and a pair beers might be simply tremendous,” Glasier stated. “I wouldn’t have an issue with it.”

The truth is, Glasier stated, if he spent a day on the slopes, he would most likely order a burger and a beer himself.