Surfers may be considered a laid-back group of athletes, but surfing is an intense workout. Paddling your board works your entire body, from your shoulders to your core to your legs, and requires good cardiovascular conditioning. Like any athlete, if you want to perform your best, you need to eat right.
Meal Planning Basics
A good meal plan for surfers needs a healthy mix of carbs, protein and fat. As the primary source of fuel for paddling, most of your calories -- as high as 70 percent before a surf competition -- should come from healthy carbs such as whole-grain breads and cereals, fruit, vegetables and milk. Protein is also important to maintain and repair hard-working muscles and should provide 10 percent to 12 percent of your calorie needs. Healthy sources include lean meat, poultry, seafood, nuts and beans. You may want to look good in your swimwear, but don't skimp on the fat. Getting less than 15 percent of your calories from fat can hamper your surfing performance. Healthy fats include oils, avocados, nuts and seeds.
Fueling Up in the A.M.
If you like to catch the early-morning waves, you need to eat one to three hours before you head out the door. A good presurf meal for the early risers should be low in fat and fiber to help prevent gastrointestinal distress and might include a container of low-fat yogurt with a banana or two slices of toast topped with peanut butter and all-fruit jam. If you surf a little later in the day, eat a high-carb breakfast such as a bowl of oatmeal with raisins and chopped walnuts with a cup of low-fat yogurt and a glass of orange juice.
No matter when you surf, make sure you make time for a post-workout snack. To replenish your energy stores and start the muscle repair process, you need a healthy snack consisting of carbs and protein within 30 minutes after you finish surfing. Healthy post-workout snack ideas include a cup of low-fat chocolate milk, a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread or whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese.
Keep It Going in the Afternoon
At lunch, continue to focus on the carbs. If you plan on hitting the waves soon, eat a light lunch such as a cup of pasta mixed with 2 ounces of shrimp and 1/2 cup of cooked veggies with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. If you're done for the day or plan on surfing before the sun sets, fuel up with a grilled chicken sandwich on a whole-wheat bun with lettuce and tomatoes, a side salad with dressing, fresh pineapple and a glass of low-fat milk.
Healthy Dinner Meals
You'll need to eat a high-carb dinner to refuel your muscles for your next day's swim. A healthy dinner meal for surfers might include broiled salmon with roasted red potatoes tossed with olive oil and garlic, steamed broccoli, a whole-grain roll and a glass of low-fat milk. Or try a whole-wheat tortilla stuffed with black beans, rice and low-fat cheese, served with corn on the cob and a glass of orange juice.