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Like any other sport, surfing can be done casually…
You wake up at noon and mosy on over to the beach for a weekend rip sesh with a few buddies. Afterwards you grab an In-N-Out Burger, fries, and a chocolate shake and spend the rest of the afternoon napping.
And there’s nothing wrong with that picture.
But like any other sport, when you want to take it to the next level, you have to start doing all the hard stuff. That’s right, the dawn patrol, the extra workouts, the diet—you know the drill. The nice part about surfing is that it can be done in any physical condition, but of course the better shape you're in the more radical your potential becomes.
Surfing can be very very casual, or very challenging and competitive—it all depends on what you hope to get out of it.
For those of you that want to push your limits, diet is probably the SINGLE most important component of your continued improvement aside from actually getting out into the water and surfing.
If you don't eat right, your body won't make the same gains from every trip to the beach so while your brain might be figuring things out, your body will take a while longer to catch up.
Protein – You should be getting twice as many grams of protein for every Kilo you weigh. So if you’re hovering around the 180 lb mark (about 82 kilos), you’ll need 160 or so grams of protein. That’s about 3 - 7oz chicken breasts a day.
You need protein to help your body rebuild your muscles--leaner, faster, and stronger. Not enough protein, and you won't make any strength gains.
Carbs – Surfing is an aerobic exercise so you’ll be burning plenty of calories in the water—most of them just from being in the water.
Lately they’ve been getting a bad rap, but carbs are the fuel your body needs to keep going, so it’s important that you don’t skimp on these or you’ll risk losing any muscle gains you might have made when your body cannibalizes them for energy.That's right. Without carbs, your body will start breaking down your muscles and using them for fuel.
Carbs also help your body properly absorb protein—you definitely need em. Just make sure you're eating the right kind of carbs. White bread and candy = bad, brown rice and fruits = good.
You’ll generally want to match your carb and protein intake if you’re going for the lean look, or run with a 8:5 carb to protein ratio if you’re trying to build muscle.
Veggies – Eating the right leafy greens can help you make bigger strength and muscle gains—spinach for example, contains protein, fights cardiovascular disease, and contains phytoecdy, which is proven to stimulate muscle growth. Make it a goal to at least have a side of veggies with every meal.
Supplements: Protein Powder – If you don’t want to go out of your way to buy endless heaps of Costco chicken breasts, protein is the best way to go. It’s quick to make, fast to digest, and when mixed with milk—is a pretty passable meal replacement. No pots and pans to wash, next to no prep time. What more could you ask for. :)
L-Glutamine – Probably the single most valuable supplement you’ll ever experience, surgeons give L-Glutamine to their recovering patients to help speed the healing process. Taking L-Glutamine helps you bounce back from a hard day of surfing by cutting back soreness and rebuilding your muscle faster. That means you can ramp up your strength and endurance faster -- which gives you more time to play in the water and perfect your timing, cutbacks, and balance.
It's awesome for your surfing and unlike other vitamins and supplements, its pretty darn affordable.
Daily Multi-Vitamin - If you think that you can get everything your body needs from the foods you eat, you're right! IF grow all your own fruits and veggies, you eat all your veggies completely raw, you raise your own beef and chicken, you catch all your own fish, etc. Unless you live on a commune, odds are you can't live up to that standard. In a perfect world you could get all the nutrition you need from the food you eat, but in reality, it's not likely.
Taking a multi-vitamin is the best way to supplement the less than adequate food selections we make every day. So much of what we eat is processed and injected with hormones, antibiotics, and steroids. Hence the "organic" marketing craze. But even if it's marked "organic" that's not an end-all solution, and in some cases, a sales gimmick.
So if you want to stay in peak physical condition, supplement. Find a good "whole-food" (not the grocery store Whole Foods), organic, non-laboratory created, multi. This typically is not going to be a grocery store brand. Plan on paying a bit more for a quality multi, but come on, what's your health worth. Something like Nutrilite's DoubleX is perfect.
When to Eat – The best times to eat are centered around when your body is most receptive to absorbing nutrients. This state occurs right after fasting and up to half an hr after your workout.
What does that mean for you? Eat at these times:
While a lot of surfing is definitely technique, having great stamina and paddle power will do wonders for helping you gain that technique. Good fitness goes hand in hand with good surfing. We’ll see you in the water.
(This article is a reflection of the author’s opinion and should not be treated as medical advice.)