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 best foods for surfing nutrition

It’s the worst thing when you paddle out, the waves are all-time and you get an attack of the hunger pangs. There has been many a time in colder climes when I have paddled out with a Snickers bar tucked up my wetsuit sleeve!

So what should you eat before a surf? Well, before your session, you will want to eat a moderately sized meal rich in carbohydrate in the form of vegetables and/or whole grains with a good amount of protein. Protein is the key to staying fuller for longer. Without good quality protein you will be at the mercy of blood sugar imbalance – you know the feeling; dizziness, fatigue and decreased stamina.

In Costa Rica, they have the perfect meal for this; Gallo Pinto, which is served every morning at PNS Surf Camp. This rice and bean combo represents the complete amino acid profile and for extra protein boost you can add eggs. This protein laden meal slows the release of carbohydrates into your blood stream making for longer lasting energy from your meal.  There is literally fruit falling off the trees so any of the local papayas, pineapples, mangos or bananas will give you a sugary carb boost to get you going. surf nutrition tips from peaks n swells surf camp

If you are not yet at our beach front surf camp in Costa Rica, then here are a few principles to follow when planning your pre-surf meal:


  • ¼ plate of unrefined, starchy carbohydrates. Choose between wholesome grains (brown basmati rice, wholemeal couscous or a slice of granary bread) or starchy vegetables (sweet potato, turnip, squash, or beetroot).
  • ½ plate of vegetables, especially dark green leafy ones (such as spinach, kale, cabbage) or raw salad vegetables.
  • A palm sized (not including fingers) portion of unprocessed, good quality protein. This includes lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, beef, off-the-bone ham, and fish.

Proteins for vegetarians and vegans: 2 eggs, organic tofu or organic tempeh or some cheese, like mozzarella, feta, cottage cheese or low-fat ricotta.

If you have limited time or prefer not to surf on quite so full a stomach then, here are a few energy boosting snack ideas for you:

  • A banana with sugar-free nut butter (peanut, almond or sunflower seed)
  • A handful of nuts with a piece of fruit
  • Vegetable sticks (carrots, cucumber, peppers) with 50g hummus
  • Fruit salad with natural yoghurt and a sprinkle of seed mix

Surf nutrition ideas from peaks n swells surf campSome fruits are more energy dense than others so if you are planning a long session or the surf is pumping and you know you are going to be doing of lot of paddling then I would suggest banana or dried fruits (such as apricots or figs). If you are conscious of your weight and are planning to lose a few pounds then I would suggest a less energy dense fruit, such as an apple, pear, plum or peach. A handful of nuts or seeds are a great choice as they are packed with slow releasing carbohydrates, a little protein to stabilize blood sugar levels, and essential fats (omega 3 and 6) for optimal cellular health. I like to  keep a little ziplock bag of these in the car so I never get caught without.

Anyhow, isn’t healthy snacking a much smarter idea than waiting until the hunger monster can wait no longer and giving in to the empty calories in a can of sugary cola or chocolate bar late in the afternoon? Preparation is key – a keen surfer should always have a store of nuts, seeds, fruits & natural yogurts ready for the snacking!

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