Tag Archives: nutrition for surfers

What to Eat Before Going Surfing

Peggy Hall warming up before paddling out at State Park

Peggy Hall warming up before paddling out at State Park

Q: What should I eat before going surfing? A: Great question! What we eat directly affects our performance in the water. Just like cars, our bodies require premium fuel in order to work best.

If you’ve ever been enjoying a great session and then 30 minutes into it, your arms start to feel like lead or (gasp!) your quick pop-up is more like a slow-motion stumble, then most likely you’re running on empty.

Here’s what to do to make sure you have enough energy and endurance to surf for as long as you like.

First, even more important that what you eat is what you drink. If you start your day with anything that starts with “grande” and ends with “latte”, you’re setting yourself up for dehydration and possibly an upset stomach, irritable bowels (nice subject, I know) and early exhaustion.

It might seem like a dose of caffeine is just the thing to get you going — and one cup of coffee (about 6 ounces) isn’t going to do any harm — but, more than that and you start to fool around with your body pumping out a bunch of adrenaline, cortisol, insulin — hormones that will leave you jittery and anxious instead of energized.

Plus, you want that adrenaline to be available for when you’re paddling into the biggest wave of the set — instead of being depleted and then you hair out at the last minute. So…. if you’ve gotta have your coffee, enjoy one cup and leave out the sugar and the fake sugar, too. Add some half-n-half (actually better for you than skim milk or soy — I’ll tell you about that in another post).

Or, try going green — with green tea, that is. It will give you the lift that comes from caffeine (it has about 1/2 that of coffee) but it has other beneficial compounds that will prevent jitters and exhaustion.

Yerba Mate is another great choice — a type of “tea” that is not tea at all but a powerful herb from South America. My husband swapper out coffee for yerba mater and is addicted to that now.

I personally start each day with a cup of hot lemonade. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 an organic lemon into a cup of hot water and add a tablespoon of raw, organic honey or some stevia (natural herbal sweetener) to taste. This will give you a boost of Vitamin C to keep your immune system strong and it also cleanses your digestive tract and purifies your liver so it can burn fat and metabolize other foods more effectively.

Finally, be sure to drink up to 100 ounces of pure water every day — more if you’re a coffee drinker. This will keep you hydrated so your muscles can work and you can surf better longer. Muscle cramps usually come from dehydration, so drink several ounces of water before you paddle out and more when you come back in.

Next up: the best things to eat before and after surfing.

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Get off the Sports “Drinks”

Well, I may not be too popular here with my latest advice — but please, get off the sugary sport drinks. They’re full of stuff your body does not need.

I know some surfers who drink the stuff all day long. (Bobby — are you listening?!)

Just for fun, I tracked down the ingredient label for a really popular brand. Read it and weep:

A 20-ounce bottle (the smaller size) of this popular sports drink contains:

calories: 125

sodium: 275 mg (hint: you only need 1500mg the entire day)

potassium: 75 mg

total carbs: 35 mg

sugars: 35 g (arggh! Listen to my radio show about the dangers of sugar!!)

protein: 0g

Ingredients: water, sucrose, glucose-fructose syrup, citric acid, natrual flavors, salt, mono-potassium phosphates, ester gum, yellow 5, bominater vegetable oils, yellow 6, red 40, blue 1, caramel 1.

How’s that for artificial ingredients?

The second and third ingredients are highly-refined forms of sugar, which actually accelerate aging, bone loss and muscle damage. Processed sugar also depletes your energy, due to the surge of insulin and resultng crash.

Yellow, red and blue dyes? Ester gum? Brominated vegetable oils? Not so appealing after all.

Instead, get some pure apple juice or other fruit juice and dilute it 50-50 with water. MUCH better for you !!!

Or, here’s a quick recipe for you to make your own version of a nutritious thirst-quencher:

one quart of water

one tablespoon of green powder (dried, powdered fruits, vegetables, herbs and grasses — try Trader Joe’s Daily Greens)

one tablespoon of Vitamin C powder from acerola cherries (not crystallized Vitamin C)

one tablespoon of maple syrup

Shake it all up and drink it all day long. Better for you, and better for your wallet, too!



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Foods for Flexibility

Did you know that certain foods can actually help improve your flexibility? It’s true!

You see, different foods affect us in different ways. Some foods cause an inflammatory response in the body, which can cause stiffness in the joints, muscle pain, headaches, allergies, skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, sinus pain and congestion, sciatica, neck pain and a whole host of other ills.

What foods cause inflammation? Well, it’s what you might call the “good stuff” — coffee, sugar, flour, alcohol, red meat, dairy products (yogurt is okay), deli meats, fried foods, foods high in sodium, and most packaged, processed foods which are basically bankrupt when it comes to nutrition.

Foods for flexibility, on the other hand, are wholesome, nourishing natural foods like chicken, fish, beans, whole grains (not wheat or corn), raw, unsalted nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oil, fresh fruits and vegetables. All green vegetables are considered very healing, so fill up on green beans, asparagus, broccoli, artichokes, zucchini, salad. Use lemon juice and olive oil for your dressing and stay away from any packaged food that has more than 200 mg of sodium per serving.

Too much salt can cause swelling in the joints as you body holds onto fluid in an attempt to dilute the blood and tissues.

Your best bet? Drink up to three liters (100 ounces) of pure water daily. The first few days you’ll be getting rid of the excess built-up fluid, but in a matter of days, your body will self-regulate.

Be sure to drink at least a cup of water before you go surfing and another cup or more every hour during your surf session.

If you are a coffee drinker, cut back to one or two cups a day. Green tea or Yerba Mate tea are  good replacements. If you like iced tea, just remember that it’s a diuretic, just like coffee, so add in another cup of water for every cup of coffee or tea you drink.

For your own fast-track to better health, try out my Three-Day Detox program or my High Energy Eating: Nutrition for Surfers program.

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