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Nutrition Plan - Nordic Combined - Ben Berend

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Ben Berend Nordic combined racingNordic Combined athlete - Ben Berend - shares his nutrition plan training year round as a competitor in both national and international events.

Do you have a health condition or allergy (ex: gluten intolerance) that requires you to have a special nutrition plan?
I don’t do well with Milk. Instead I drink Almond Milk, which I love! 

Do you follow a specific diet (ex: vegetarian, paleolithic etc…). If so, describe it and explain how is it benefitting you?
I do not follow a specific diet. I just try and eat a very balanced array of foods and I stay away from any sugar or artificial food and drinks.

Do you supplement daily with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids, amino acids etc…?
Yes I supplement daily with SportMulti, which is a great multivitamin for athletes. In addition to that I take an Omega 3 Fatty Acid daily.

What’s your pre-workout/competition nutrition and hydration plan? Be specific about the foods, hydration (water, electrolyte, other liquids), and sports supplements/fuels you use?
Well hydration is key! The amount of water I drink pre-workout/competition can make or break the whole day for me. Three hours before every cross country race, I eat two sandwiches with peanut butter, honey, and banana. I’ve been doing that for years! I also am a huge fan of SportLegs. I take SportLegs one hour before every race. Then thirty minutes before my start, I stop drinking water. If I consume water too close to the race, it usually comes back up! I like to feel a pretty empty stomach before the race. Honey Stinger Chews are always a great way to get some energy in your system without filling up too much. Those are great about 10-15 minutes before the race!

What’s your during workout/competition nutrition and hydration plan? Be specific about the foods, hydration (water, electrolyte, other liquids), and sports supplements/fuels you use?
In Nordic Combined our races… 5km, 10km, and 15km aren’t really long enough for any nutrition during. It’s just GO, GO, GO! In the Spring, Summer, and Fall I have to do many long over distance workouts on bikes, rollerskis, running, etc to build my base for the winter. My favorite is on a long bike ride fill one of your water bottles with half lemonade and half water. Lemonade has a lot of sugar in it and on a 4 hour bike ride sugar is good! This will keep you from bonking. I was born and raised in Steamboat Springs, Colorado so I’m a huge Honey Stinger dude! I actually worked at the Honey Stinger Warehouse for a while. I recommend the chews and waffles during long workouts. It’s important to stay hydrated and keep putting some energy into your body during these long workouts or else the whole workout will be unproductive and your body will take less away from it.

What’s your post-workout/competition nutrition and hydration plan? Be specific about the foods, hydration (water, electrolyte, other liquids), and sports supplements/fuels you use?
I’m going to quote my good friend and Canadian Nordic Combined athlete Nathanial Mah here, “If you don’t have protein within 30 minutes of your workout you might as well just die.” I know this is a little extreme but protein is important. If you don’t have protein available just get some kind of food into your system. The worst thing you can do is not eat anything after a hard workout. You have to get something in your body so you can start recovering. Recently I have started using Fluid Recovery. It’s made for endurance athletes and enables me to recover faster and not be sore the next day. This is important when you are training everyday and have NO time for being sore. You can mix the powder into water but my go to move is to make a smoothie with the Berry flavored powder, it’s tasty!

Do you compete in different types of events (ex: different distances or formats)? If so, is your nutrition/hydration plan different for each event?
The way my sport works is very consistent. In the morning we have a ski jumping competition and in the afternoon is a 10 km skate ski race. The winner of the ski jumping starts the race first. Depending on how many meters shorter you went than the leader, you start a certain amount of seconds behind them. I have started first before, and I have started three minutes behind the leader before. Then it’s just a battle. Whoever crosses the finish line first wins. So it’s basically a pursuit cross country race with the furthest jumpers at the beginning and the shortest jumpers at the end. Since my sport is so consistent it’s easy for me to follow a routine every time without switching it up at all. So my nutritional plans explained are always the same!
Any other nutrition/hydration secrets you’d like to share?
It’s very important to take in enough calories on days of hard training. However if keeping your weight or even losing a few pound is important for your sport, the way you handle off days is important. Sparkling water is a great way to stay hydrated and also fill up on days where you don’t need to eat as much.

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