Your grandmother probably told you not to eat before swimming because you will get a cramp and drown. Modern studies show this is a complete myth – there has never been a recorded case of somebody drowning after swimming – or surfing – on a full stomach. That said, you probably don’t want to eat a huge meal before hitting the waves – the same as any other workout. Instead, you should eat a light meal or snack – enough to keep you going through your session and so you don’t leave the water starving and desperate for any kind of food (that is when stopping at the nearest fast food joint happens).
Before surfing you should eat a small meal or large snack that balances protein and carbohydrates and contains some natural sugars to give you immediate energy. Here are some suggestions.
- Breakfast cereal or porridge with milk and fruit or juice. A lot of the time you might be surfing early in the day, so many of these suggestions are for breakfast type foods.
- Toasted muffins or crumpets with honey, jam, or syrup.
- Toast with honey or jam. Or if you want more protein, baked beans or peanut butter.
- Creamed rice with tinned fruit
- Pasta with tomato-based sauce
- Jacket potato with creamed corn or a similar light filling. (Loaded jacket potatoes are best for afterwards)
- A cereal bar, muesli bar or sports bar. This is a good option if you are in a hurry or if it is very early in the morning when you may have less of an appetite.
- Banana roll or sandwich with honey.
- Fruit salad and yoghurt or a dairy dessert.
- Fruit smoothie with milk and yoghurt. Some people recommend soy-based smoothies, but soy milk contains phytoestrogens which can cause problems for some individuals.
- Coffee. If you are the kind of person who sharpens up with just a bit of caffeine, a cup of coffee or black tea can be the perfect pick me up.
- Flapjack with nuts. Flapjacks give you a good energy release for longer surf sessions.
You should also add a banana. Bananas contain potassium, which can prevent muscle cramps and charlie horses. If you can’t stand bananas, then here are some other foods that are high in potassium and good to snack on: Coconut water (which is also excellent for hydration), apricots, cantaloupe, dates, nectarines, nuts, orange, raisins, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and plain yoghurt.
Drink plenty of water (or coconut water or a proper sports drink) before surfing. Absolutely save the alcohol for afterwards – alcohol can impair your judgment and result in an accident or worse. Also try to drink sports drinks and eat a light snack during a session that lasts more than an hour – sports and cereal bars are great for this, as are fruit or even candy (in moderation) to give a quick sugar boost.
Remember that surfing is work and your body needs to be properly fueled for it – and enjoy the waves.