Best Diet for Surfing - Raw.Surf

Best Diet for Surfing

Best Diet for Surfing

By Shoshana Sotomayer RD, CDN, LDN

Surfing is a demanding sport. Hours on end in the hot sun, with no food or water, pushing your body to the brink to ride the waves.


Unless you plan on sporting a water-proof fanny pack stocked with nutritious snacks while you surf, fueling up out on the water is not an option.


So how do pro surfers ensure they have enough energy to perform at their best?


Simple. They fill the rest of their day with balanced meals and snacks that supply ample calories and energy to fuel any grueling session.


Here’s the best diet for surfing and how to make it work for your lifestyle.

Why Nutrition is Important for Surfing


The average person burns 300-500 calories per hour surfing. For most people, a single session is far longer than that.


Your body needs a set number of calories per day to be alive and do everyday things – this is your metabolic rate. Once you add in surfing, your calorie needs become much greater, especially if you want the energy to catch the best waves.


For example, if you need 2000 calories per day at baseline (to perform everyday activities like tying your shoes, brushing your teeth, etc.) and then throw in a 3-hour surf session, your total calories for the day need to be closer to 4500. That’s a lot of food.


Most surfers are not paying attention to their nutrition. [i]


If you’re not eating enough, you’re more likely to become fatigued early in the session, bonk out (hit a wall), and you’re more prone to injury and overtraining.[ii]


Start by calculating your daily calorie needs.


Here are the formulas for calculating your calorie needs:


  • For women, BMR = 655.1 + (9.563 x weight in kg) + (1.850 x height in cm) – (4.676 x age in years)
  • For men, BMR = 66.47 + (13.75 x weight in kg) + (5.003 x height in cm) – (6.755 x age in years)


Then add 300-500 calories per hour for your typical surf session.


Start tracking what you’re already eating in a food journal app like MyFitnessPal to see how close you are to your calorie goals. From there you can add or remove food to meet your needs.


6 Nutrition Tips for Surfing


Filling your day with plenty of calories for surfing is important. What you eat and drink is equally important.


  • Create balanced meals. Balanced meals help keep you full and satisfied until your next meal or snack. Build your plate with a protein (beef, dairy, fish, poultry, tofu, eggs, tempeh, etc.), carbohydrate (potatoes, grains, bread, cereal, pasta, etc.), healthy fat (nuts and seeds, nut butters, avocado, cheese, dairy, olive oil, fish, etc.), and a fruit and/or vegetable.
  • Focus on protein. Protein is essential for building and maintaining Aim for 20-40 grams of protein per meal; or 1.5-2 grams of protein per kg of body weight every day. If you weigh 185 lbs., your goal is around 121-162 grams of protein per day.
  • Eat every 3-4 hours. Eating often helps maintain steady blood sugar and gives you an opportunity to fuel up before and after a surf session.
  • Fuel up 30-60 minutes before your surf session.
  • Hydrate before a surfing session. Surfers are at risk of major fluid loss during a surf [iii] For that reason, it’s important to pre-hydrate before and rehydrate immediately after. Aim for 17 ounces of fluid 1-2 hours before surfing. If the session was shorter than 3 hours, a normal meal and water intake is sufficient after.
  • Don’t skimp on carbs. Carbohydrates provide Be sure to include a serving of carbs with every meal and before your surf session.

Bottom Line


Surfing requires major muscle and energy power. Fueling and hydrating properly is important to make the most of your time on the water. If you’re not eating enough calories, protein, carbs, or drinking enough fluids, you’re going to have a more difficult time catching waves, or worse could get injured.


Surfers are one of the most passionate about their sport. Focusing on nutrition can help hone your love of surfing for years to come. And if you’re not sure what to eat or where to go from here, talking to your healthcare provider or Registered Dietitian can help you weed through the noise and figure out what is best for you.

[i] Felder JM, Burke LM, Lowdon BJ, Cameron-Smith D, Collier GR. Nutritional practices of elite female surfers during training and competition. Int J Sport Nutr. 1998 Mar;8(1):36-48. doi:10.1123/ijsn.8.1.36

[ii] Borgonovo-Santos M, Zacca R, Fernandes RJ, Vilas-Boas JP. The impact of a single surfing paddling cycle on fatigue and energy cost. Sci Rep. 2021 Feb 25;11(1):4566. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-83900-y

[iii] Atencio JK, Armenta RF, Nessler JA, Schubert MM, Furness JW, Climstein M, Mach L, Newcomer SC. Fluid Loss in Recreational Surfers. Int J Exerc Sci. 2021 Apr 1;14(6):423-434. PMID:34055174

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on Oct 10, 2023