Nutrition for Surfers – How to Power up for your Sessions
Posted by Jack Albritton on February 24, 2014
I’ve been thinking about writing a piece on nutrition for surfers for some time now and when I saw an article about Kelly Slater’s approach to nutrition the other day I got inspired. Whether you are planning on surfing in Costa Rica or just want an extra boost when you paddle out back home, you can definitely help your performance in the water by taking in the proper fuel. The 11 time world champ has been at the top of his sport for a very long time and I am convinced it is largely due to his diet. He was asked about his morning routine to which he responded that he starts the day with hot water and lemon to cleanse the body. After this he mostly eats fruit and has smoothies for the rest of the morning.
While Slater stays at the top of his game by maintaining a healthy lifestyle I see surfers everyday paddling out after loading up on foods that are not going to give them any energy. In fact, most of what I see being consumed is actually going to slow them down in the water. Forget the bacon and eggs. Forget the starchy carbohydrates such as rice and potatoes. The best way to power up for your surf session is with simple carbohydrates, such as is found in fruits.
If you are visiting Costa Rica to surf, you will find many delicious fresh fruits everywhere you look. But even if you are not fortunate enough to be surfing in this tropical paradise, you should be able to find some simple fruit pretty much anywhere you are, even if it is just the good old standby, bananas. A plate of fresh fruit, 4 or 5 bananas, or even a fresh fruit smoothie is going to give you the sustained energy you need for a tough 2 hour session in the water. The type of sugar in fruit is fructose which is not going to give you an energy spike and then a letdown like the processed sugar used in most energy drinks, cereals and sweet snacks.
The fruit is going to stick with you while you are out in the water but won’t weigh you down like eating a big meal with processed foods, starchy carbohydrates and meat. I don’t recommend this kind of a diet at all, but if you are going to eat this way definitely do it after your surf session. You will find however that the cleaner you are with your eating the more energy, strength and endurance you are going to have surfing in the long run. Plant based, whole foods are much easier for our bodies to process and are what our bodies want.
Another important factor, especially in tropical climates like Costa Rica, is hydration. The best nutrition in the world isn’t going to keep you going in the water if you are dehydrated. Everyone’s body is different but if you are out in the sun and heat a lot during the day you want to be drinking water regularly. If you feel thirsty you are already partially dehydrated. If your urine is not completely clear you are partially dehydrated. A good way to start the day is by knocking back at least a quart of water. I find it a good habit to keep water at hand all the time. That way you can be continually hydrating. Be sure and rehydrate when you come out of the water. The sun and all the exertion in the water really takes it out of you.
Try these simple nutrition tips yourself before you paddle out the next time and see the difference you will feel. For more about what Kelly Slater has to say about his routine check out My Morning Routine: Kelly Slater, Pro Surfer. I hope this information is helpful. I would be happy to share more nutrition tips in the future.