Written by Nick Holt
The most important part of fueling surf sessions (and nutrition in general, for that matter) is to have a solid nutritional foundation. When you eat mostly whole foods and give your body all the nutrients it needs, you fuel a system where all your metabolic processes work optimally. Your muscles have the energy they need, the joints are loose and mobile, you recover faster, and have more mental focus.
That should be the starting point for any surfer (or for any athlete for that matter). Once you have the solid foundation in place (see below on how to do that), then it’s time to work on more advanced goals like fat loss, muscle growth, or any specific performance goals.
When whole foods comprise the bulk of your diet, what you specifically eat and drink prior to a workout or surf session becomes much less important. Having that solid base gives you tons of wiggle room. Most of time, all you need is some quick digesting carbohydrates like a banana or some yogurt to give you enough energy and stamina to endure those long, exhausting sessions.
Or for some surfers, they surf on an empty stomach because they have enough stored up energy from the meal the night before.
Now, what do surfers eat to stay lean and energized?
There are various ways to pull off the surfer way of eating. As I mentioned earlier, building a strong nutritional foundation always comes first. If you take time to build that strong foundation, you’ll have a lot more flexibility as to what you actually eat before a session, or post-surf. You’ll also be able to buffer poor food choices with a strong base. And you’ll have plenty of stored energy even when you don’t have access to food.
What Does A Solid Nutritional Foundation Look Like?
The first step is to address any nutritional deficiencies. This can include anything from vitamins and minerals, to protein, water, and fats. If your metabolism isn’t working right, you’ll feel like crap, which means being able to surf and stay lean will be completely impossible.
Even if you think you eat healthy, there’s still a good chance you have some kind of nutrient deficiency. Several studies have addressed how nutrient deficiencies are surprisingly prevalent in today’s modern diet. To find out if you have any specific deficiencies, consider getting a blood test by your primary care physician.
For a lean, strong physique and high energy levels, you need to have your own physiology working for you. If you can get this first step right, everything else usually falls into place on its own.
Here are my 5 Surfer Diet Rules to build that strong nutritional foundation:
- Eat a huge salad every day or have veggies at every meal.
- Consume sufficient amounts of protein. Target around 0.8- 1.0 gram of protein per lb. of lean bodyweight. For example, I’m 190 lbs. at 12% body fat, so my lean mass is about 168 (190 – 22.8). So I try to get about 135 -168 grams of protein per day.
- Stay hydrated. Target half your bodyweight (lbs.) in ounces of water per day. For me, that’s 90 ounces, or about 3 liters.
- Eat fatty fish like Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines, or Albacore Tuna to get Omega 3’s in your diet. If you don’t like fish or don’t have access to it, supplement with a high quality fish oil, taking about 1-2 grams per day.
- Limit refined carbs (breads, cookies, crackers, sweets). And if or when you do eat refined carbs, make sure you do it AFTER a surf session or intense workout to minimize the damage to your waistline.
In part 2, I’ll detail a specific meal-by-meal breakdown so that you can see what a good nutritional foundation looks like in real life. Until then, work on building that solid nutritional foundation.
If you want a full 30-day surfer meal plan, plus the complete surfer guide to nutrition, make sure you check out my Surfer Body Program below. Along with surf specific exercises to get you stronger and more flexible, the program will also help you get leaner which will ultimately help you surf better.
As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.