5 Ways To Refuel After Surfing

by Nick Marshall

When you’ve had a great session out on the water, the next one can’t come soon enough. But spending several hours in the water can give the muscles in the upper back and shoulders a pounding — and most surfers will burn 250 calories or more per hour, so to keep the momentum going, it’s important to let the body refuel and recover.

If you want to hit the first set tomorrow like you finished the last one today, make sure you’re following up your surf sessions with these recovery-boosting foods. 

1. Natural Carbs To Restore Energy

Between paddling and riding, most surfers will burn 30-60 grams of carbs an hour. That might not sound like much of a hit, but the body only stores enough glycogen in the muscles to power around two hours of activity. If you’re feeling drained and weak toward the end of a session, you might be experiencing a “bonk” as blood sugar levels plummet. As soon as you’re out of the water, refuel with natural carbs to replenish glycogen levels. Whole grains and cereals will give a longer-lasting energy boost, so any whole wheat bread, tortilla or rice will hit the spot. A baked potato is an awesome carb bomb too. 

From the Rockwell Kitchen Menu: Replenish your carb levels — and treat yourself after hitting the waves — with our Salted Caramel Brownie or Grilled Peanut Butter and Jam on Sourdough.

2. Build Strength With Muscle Repairing Proteins

The ripped, toned surfer physique might be easy to wear, but it’s hard-earned. If you’ve clawed your way out of the surf with trembling arms, you’ll know the toll big waves can take on tired muscles. The secret to fast, complete muscle repair and recovery is plenty of lean protein. Tuck into tuna, chow down on chicken or tear into some turkey, which has around 8 grams of protein per ounce. There’s plenty of protein in plant-based foods, too. Pulses and beans are packed with it — chickpeas are around 20% protein, for example. 

From the Rockwell Kitchen Menu: Try our Turkey Burger on a brioche bun or our Chickpea Tacos with a radish slaw for a post-surf shot of protein.

3. Give Your System an Immune Boost

The good news: Any aerobic exercise, especially in cold water, will boost the body’s immune system. The kicker: Surfers tend to swallow a whole lot of bacteria in the process. In fact, one study found that surfers could be three times more vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Support your immune system with ample servings of fruits and vegetables, as well as natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatories such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, nuts and berries. 

From the Rockwell Kitchen Menu: Get a powerful blast of antioxidants (and help soothe inflamed muscles) with a Turmeric Superfood Latte from our coffee partner Laird Superfood. The drink features a special blend of turmeric, coconut and MCT oil to help boost the immune system and keep you out on the waves — something their founder, pro-surfer Laird Hamilton, knows a thing or two about. 

4. Replace Lost Salt

Time spent working up a sweat in a wetsuit and immersed in sea water means vital minerals and salts are drawn out of the body. That could leave you feeling sluggish and tired once you’re back on shore. You’ll be thirsty, but water alone won’t restore the balance. Follow the example of marathon runners and make sure you’re getting electrolytes. If you’re hungry, a hearty serving of bacon, eggs or steak will set you up perfectly. 

From the Rockwell Kitchen Menu: Try our delicious Topanga Plate (3 eggs), BLT or Skirt Steak.

5. Hydrate on Dry Land

One of the great ironies of surfing is that the longer you spend on the water, the more you risk dehydration, which can lead to a drop in performance of 20% or more. If your body is dehydrated, recovery and muscle repair can’t flourish, and you’ll probably finish an awesome day with a pounding headache instead. Skip the sodas and avoid alcohol and aim for a refreshing, clean drink with plenty of natural salts and sugars. 

From the Rockwell Kitchen Menu: We stock a wicked Watermelon Cucumber Kombucha by Babe Kombucha that has extra antioxidant properties. 

Take proper care of your refueling onshore and you’ll get even more out of your time on the water. 

Nick Marshall has been writing about the latest trends in food and travel for more than 15 years.