The importance of diet in surfing

Sports performance will depend to a large extent on the diet we have, and many athletes are either unaware of this fact or believe that it is not entirely true.
Cesar Alvarez
Cesar Alvarez


Surf nomad

Roaming the globe with a surfboard and a laptop, crafting digital stories that ride the wave of surfing culture.

Sports performance will depend to a large extent on the diet we have, and many athletes are either unaware of this fact or believe that it is not entirely true.

The truth is that according to some studies, 20% of our performance is due to food, 50% to training and the other 30% to adequate rest. So that 20% referred to the diet can make the difference in the results of some athletes and others.

There are more demanding sports that require a greater contribution of nutrients, as is the case of water sports, which have to deal with extreme weather conditions. In particular, surfing is a very complete sport that is an important effort for those who practice it, which entails a high energy expenditure. Because of this fact, surfers must be sure to take care of their food and for this they will have to comply with some dietary guidelines such as 4 to 5 meals a day, distributing in each of them the required nutrients, adapting to the intensity of training or competition , In order to maintain a good state of health.

Food is the fuel of our body and we need it to be of good quality to get the best possible performance, the best version of ourselves. In addition to measuring the quality of the food we eat we will have to measure the quantities.

Generally speaking, an athlete should ingest throughout the day between 60 and 70% of carbohydrates, preferably integral because they contain a greater contribution of nutrients, 15-20% of proteins and 15-20% of fats Healthy. These percentages will depend on the intensity of the exercise.

To achieve an optimal state, the surfer must be fed in order to meet his energy needs, because a nutrient deficit can cause injury, fatigue, hypoglycemia or dehydration, among others.

Surfers like Kelly Slater talk about the importance of diet for surfers, here is a very interesting video "Kelly Slater Diet of a Champion, Eat like Kelly for health" .


Feeding guidelines for surfers

  • Glycogen loading days before training . A good diet should be part of a surfer's life, but the days before an intense day of exercise should be made some changes, such as an increase in the intake of carbohydrates slow absorption that will bring extra energy and will allow you Increase resistance.
  • Post-training protein loading. To help muscle recovery it is crucial to increase the intake of protein foods in the hours after training.
  • Yes to natural foods . It is fundamental to improve the performance eliminate from the diet the fatty or prefabricated foods that make us feel heavy and do not contribute beneficial nutrients to our organism.
  • Hydration comes first . In a sport like surf where they spend so many hours exposed to the sun it is very important to stay hydrated at all times. Every 45 minutes the surfer should go out to drink water or some type of isotonic drink.
  • Snack during training . In long sessions of training the surfer must ingest some kind of food such as gels, energy bars, a piece of fruit or another snack that helps energy recovery during the spot.


Beyond the general principles of sports nutrition, surfers need to know which specific foods can help them ride the waves effectively. Here's a breakdown of foods to include and those to steer clear of:

Foods to Prioritize

  • Complex Carbohydrates: These are your primary energy source. Opt for whole grains, brown rice, quinoa, and oats. They provide sustained energy to keep you paddling.
  • Lean Proteins: Protein aids muscle recovery and growth. Include fish, chicken, lean cuts of beef, tofu, and legumes.
  • Healthy Fats: Essential for overall health and energy. Avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil are excellent choices.
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They support your immune system and overall well-being.
  • Dairy or Dairy Alternatives: Essential for bone health. Consider milk, yogurt, or fortified plant-based alternatives.
  • Hydrating Foods: Water-rich foods like watermelon, cucumber, and oranges help maintain hydration during long sessions.


Foods to Avoid

  • Processed Junk: Say no to highly processed foods, including chips, sugary snacks, and fast food. They offer empty calories and can lead to energy crashes.
  • Excessive Sugar: Minimize sugary drinks, candies, and desserts. These can lead to rapid energy spikes followed by crashes.
  • Saturated and Trans Fats: Limit foods high in unhealthy fats like fried items and fatty cuts of meat. They can cause inflammation.
  • Heavy Meals: Avoid heavy, rich meals right before hitting the waves. They can lead to sluggishness and discomfort.


Sample Meals for Surfers

  • Pre-Surf Breakfast: Oatmeal topped with fresh berries, a sprinkle of chia seeds, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.
  • Mid-Morning Snack: A banana and a small handful of almonds.
  • Lunch: Grilled chicken or tempeh salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and a vinaigrette dressing.
  • Afternoon Snack: A smoothie made with spinach, banana, almond milk, and a scoop of protein powder.
  • Post-Surf Dinner: Baked salmon (or a plant-based alternative) with quinoa and steamed broccoli.
  • Hydration: Sip on water or an electrolyte-rich drink like coconut water throughout the day.


These dietary choices can provide you with the energy and nutrients needed to conquer the waves while keeping you in top physical shape. Remember, a well-balanced diet is your secret weapon for a successful surf session.