We all know about physical exercises that increase stamina, strength and flexibility. In fact, there are several training programs – many online – designed to improve surfer wellbeing and amplify performance. Some surfers cross-train in order to surf until old age and most of you know that sleep is critical for recovery. Practices like yoga enable both supple bodies and peace of mind.
As surfers, most of us agree that when we’re feeling physically well, our enjoyment of the surfing experience increases. This is because we feel fit for purpose in terms of harmonizing our speed, strength and timing with a moving liquid surface. Fitness is both physical and mental. It makes us agile, responsive and powerful.
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Why do surfers need supplements?
Surfing is physically demanding and the average person eats a diet lacking in many critical nutrients. Even a slight deficiency can lead to fatigue and weakness.
Then there is the aspect of performance enhancement. While few surfers will use drugs like EPO to improve endurance, many seek out alternatives to boost energy and speed recovery. Energy drinks and sugar may provide a temporary boost but there are healthier lifestyle supplements that may provide longer lasting benefits.
What are health supplements?
Health supplements are usually powdered food additives or tablets containing nutrients or chemical compounds. Some are taken prior to exercise in order to provide a boost of energy or to help improve focus. Other supplements are taken post-surf in order to build muscle and speed recovery.
As a surfer, you should read the labels carefully. Avoid high sugar options and look for organic, natural ingredients. If you can’t easily pronounce the items on the list at the back of the product, it’s probably full of preservatives and flavorings. Definitely steer clear of high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame and sucralose. Foods sweetened with monk fruit or stevia are usually manufactured with health in mind so can generally be trusted.
The key to nutrition is balance, so take it easy with supplements (even those on this list) and aim to eat a colorful, varied diet as the first priority. However, if you’re looking to sharpen your edge then the following selection are our favorites. You can click the link below each to purchase at a discount price from iHerb.com who deliver globally in record time.
Essential supplements for surfers
Protein: builds muscle and speeds recovery
Whey Protein is essential for building muscle. While many surfers don’t want to bulk up, it can still be useful to build and strengthen your shoulders and pecs after an epic session of paddling. Unlike MMA or boxing where athletes need to limit their size in order to fit into a weight class, surfers can develop a physique that enables them to surf their best, regardless of weight. Strong shoulders, biceps and triceps are important attributes if you want to catch more waves than the others.
Whey protein has a well-rounded profile that is quickly absorbed and can be consumed in a smoothie or with water, in minutes. Take it within 45 minutes of completing your surf session for maximum benefits.
Sports Multivitamins: help close any deficiency gaps
As mentioned, the standard western diet is seriously lacking in many essential vitamins and minerals. Thankfully surfers get plenty of vitamin D from sun exposure but many are lacking in magnesium, iron or vitamin B.
An all-in-one multivitamin can boost surfing well-being and performance by closing nutrient gaps and improving overall vitality. You might take the tablet every second day if you’re already eating a healthy diet and just want a boost.
Choose a multivitamin made by a brand with a solid reputation and good ratings. We like Optimum Nutrition’s sports multivitamin.
If you find yourself reaching for sugary snacks or chocolate bars before or after your surf, it is worth investigating healthier alternatives.
Snacks like the Dang Bar replace the sugars with healthy fats, meaning you get prolonged satiety and avoid nasty insulin spikes. We highly recommend healthy nut-based bars over highly processed sugar-laden candy that provides a temporary boost followed by another dip of hunger and increased cortisol (stress hormone).
If you’re after a natural supplement – i.e. a product that is closer to its natural form – then a green powder might be a perfect choice.
Green powders usually contain a blend of healthy leaf vegetables like kale and spinach, alongside extracts of broccoli, matcha and spirulina (an algae). Many contain other powdered veggies, herbs, berries and even probiotics for an increased boost.
Macro Greens by Macro Life is an amazingly raw, clean and healthy option that meets most of your nutritional in a single drink.
You might want to investigate a few options before diving into a supersize jar of green powder as some taste a lot like a stagnant pond.
A gift from the Amazon, Açaí is a purple berry that went from novelty superfood to having a breakfast bowl named after it. Natural açaí is not at all sweet, making it perfect for those on a low-sugar diet. However, you can purchase sweetened açaí in frozen form from many supermarkets.
We recommend powdered açaí as you can easily add half teaspoon to your morning smoothie to seriously boost your antioxidant intake for the day.
Many surfers rely on coffee to fuel early morning (and not so early) sessions. We’ve been fascinated by fungi for years, especially medicinal mushrooms, which have a range of healing properties.
When we encountered Four Sigmatic we had to try out a mix made in heaven: coffee and mushrooms. Simply rip open a sachet and add hot water. The coffee tastes great – perhaps a little nuttier than your usual brew – but more than palatable. Best of all is the double whammy kick of caffeine mixed with mushroom magic (sorry no colorful visuals) that provides a serious bump of energy and mental clarity.
Once vilified as an unhealthy fat, coconut oil is the new nutritional darling. It is amazingly versatile and can be used as a cooking oil, in deserts or as an ingredient in its own right. People report that “pulling” coconut oil (sucking it between teeth for 10 minutes after waking) improves dental health. Many swear by its moisturizing properties and it can even be incorporated into natural sunscreens.
Look for extra virgin coconut oil and store at room temperature.
NAD+ Cell Regenerator and Resveratrol: slow the aging process
At the cutting edge of anti-aging science are compounds like resveratrol, commonly found in red wine and cherries.
NAD+ Cell Regenerator and Resveratrol by Life Extension features nicotinamide riboside with a supporting cast of three complementary ingredients that support your body’s natural aging process and cellular metabolism.
Watch Joe Rogan with David Sinclair for an introduction to anti-aging from a Harvard researcher who believes aging is a treatable disease.
Personally, we’ve used this supplement for around 4 months and have noticed an increase in energy and motivation. The earlier you start, the better the results.
An essential component of skin tissue, providing elasticity and firmness, collagen is a protein that improves the efficacy of your epidermis when confronted by the elements. Your skin is the barrier between yourself and nature and should be cared for accordingly.
Using a natural sunscreen is the first step but you can support the restoration process by consuming some collagen peptides in powdered form. Simply sprinkle into your morning smoothie with a little maca, acai and protein as mentioned above.
Most of us do not consume enough Omega-3, which is a compound essential for proper circulatory and brain health. In nature you can find high levels of Omega-3 in fatty fish like salmon but many of us don’t eat enough fish for optimal nutrition.
That’s where a fish oil supplement like California Gold’s Omega-3 Premium Fish Oil comes in. When purchasing a fish oil supplement do check to ensure it is dolphin safe and contains low mercury.
Which supplements do you take? What makes the biggest difference to your surfing performance?
Remember that the foundation of wellbeing is sleep, movement, healthy eating and stress management. Everything else follows these basics. So get your basics in order first and then you get to play with supplements that can provide a boost to performance or recovery, ultimately improving your surfing.