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8 Nutritional Principles for Surfers

by Matthew

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When it comes to surfing, just like in any other sport, what you eat significantly affects your performance either positively or negatively. And while there is a wide range of diets and various nutritional recommendations these days, choosing the right diet that works well for you can be challenging. 

However, the truth is, if you want the energy to go surfing for extended sessions and then later quickly recover from those long sessions, then you need to eat healthy foods. The following eight nutritional principles for surfers should help you stay healthy, boost your energy, longevity, and increase your performance.


1. Have more plant-based meals




Eating more vegetables and fruits than meats gives you more nutritional and health benefits as a surfer. You would rather go surfing in the ocean than surfing in a concrete wave-tank, right? So why would you choose more inorganic foods over real food?

Never eat portions of fish or meat larger than your palm (this is between 200-250g). You just can’t digest more than this in a single meal, and it is not healthy. Avoid processed foods, drinks with added sugars, flavors, and additives.

Replace unhealthy calorie-packed snacks like cookies with fruit and vegetable salads. Fill up on a lot of vegetables, and be sure to include some underground veggies like beetroot and sweet potatoes. At least two-thirds of your meals should be made up of healthy natural options. The other third can be healthy lean meats or fish.


2. Avoid calorie-dense foods. Go for nutrient-dense options!





If you are strictly following the first principle, then you are already doing this. As a surfer, the quality of the food you eat matters a lot. Choose non-GMO, biodynamic, wild, 100 percent grass-fed, and organic foods. These foods have a higher nutrient density (more minerals, vitamins, protein, and enzymes) than any other class of food.

Again, avoid refined, processed, and packaged foods with hydrogenated oils, added sugars, and flavors. These are calorie-dense foods.


3. Include enough healthy fat in your diet




Fat is an essential nutrient that every surfer should have in their diet. In fact, some surfers prefer the Keto diet, which relies on fat as the primary source of energy, not carbohydrates.

Ketosis (the process in which the body converts ketones, instead of glucose, to energy) can significantly reduce the process through which the brain uses oxygen in burning glucose. This is mainly because a human brain can use around 75 percent of its fuel derived from ketones.

Therefore, a fat-adapted or ketone-fed brain may withstand environments with low oxygen availability better and even support longer breath-hold periods. This is interesting for many surfers, since increased breath-hold often results in more confidence, needed for surfing big waves.

You don’t necessarily need to be on the Keto diet to consume enough fat. Just see to it that you are getting enough healthy fat in your meals. Good sources include coconut, ghee or olive oil, flaxseed, chia seed, and hempseed oils, and nuts like cashews, pistachios, and walnuts. Avoid fat from canola, rice bran, processed vegetable oils, cheap butter, and corn.

4. Stay properly hydrated




Surfing is a high-intensity workout, and since you are doing it for long hours in the sun and salty ocean water, your body loses a lot more water than it usually loses on a regular day. Therefore, staying adequately hydrated both before and after surfing is imperative. Drink at least three liters of water throughout the day.

Other healthy beverages like freshly squeezed fruit juices and green tea can also help you stay hydrated. Avoid sweetened soft drinks and also limit your caffeine intake to at most 1-2 cups in a day. Too much caffeine depletes your energy and leads to blood sugar upsets and carb cravings.


5. Before you surf, eat until you are satisfied, but not full




This is the best way to avoid overeating. And, often, one to three hours before you go surfing is the best time for you to eat. Here are some breakfast options for you before you start your surfing session:

  • Oatmeal, especially steel-cut oatmeal, is perfect for you as it will help to last longer in water. Try adding fresh blueberries, flaxseed, and a few almonds for fiber. You can also include some raisins and a little cinnamon.
  • High-fiber cereals are also an excellent option. They have enough healthy protein, low sugar content, and fiber. Add low-fat soy milk and some banana slices or berries.
  • Whole grain bread or whole-wheat English muffin along with almond butter.
  • Protein shake. This can be whey or soy protein powder that has been blended with low-fat milk, peanut or almond butter, ground flaxseed or oatmeal.
  • Low-fat yogurt, granola, and fresh berries
  • Scrambled tofu. Add some green pepper, onions, and other vegetables, tamari or lite soy sauce, some garlic powder. Stir-fry it with a little amount of olive oil.




In case you don’t have enough time to prepare a meal, here are some great snacks for surfers;

  • Fresh fruits like strawberries, apples, bananas, oranges, red grapes, pineapples, cantaloupe, etc.
  • Trail mix (assorted nuts and dried fruit)
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Banana and peanut butter on whole-grain bread sandwich
  • Nuts like pistachios, cashews, walnuts, and pecans
  • Avocado sprinkled with lime or lemon juice
  • Raw vegetables like broccoli and carrots

6. After surfing, replenish




You need to eat properly and relax after your surfing session so that the process of repairing your muscles can start quickly. Eat a satisfying meal to replenish your energy and nutrients. If you are not able to have a healthy full meal right after surfing, have a good snack then have a full meal three or four hours later.

It is advisable that your post-surfing meal should include starch, vegetables, and high-protein foods. Some suggestions include;

  • Fresh fish such as tuna, mackerel, and Coho salmon
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Grilled chicken
  • Baked potato
  • Brown rice and black beans
  • Fresh steamed vegetables like spinach, asparagus, broccoli, and beets


7. Eat balanced meals




Each meal should contain a portion of carbs, vitamins, healthy fat, and protein. This is important for high energy and maintaining proper blood sugar balance. Learning to cook balanced meals takes some time and requires some reading. Alternatively, if you don’t have time to cook, check out some of your local best meal delivery diets.


8. Know the ingredients of anything you eat





By knowing the ingredients of your foods, you will be avoiding a lot of modern poisons. Avoid anything that has trans-fat, HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), hydrogenated anything, aspartame, canola oil, added colorings, etc. You also need to limit or stop alcohol consumption. Processed and sweetened drinks are also poison.

It is worth mentioning that surfing is a very demanding sport, requiring a lot from your body. Therefore, if you want to make the most out of it in the water, you need to give your body sufficient energy. This will help your muscles and tissues to heal quickly after each surf sesh, and also assist your digestive system. All of this usually begins with making the right food choices and starting to eat real food. Follow the above principles and be sure to enjoy your ride.


Pay attention to your nutrition and make smart food choices every day! Get in the best shape of your life for your next wave surfing camp!

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