Surfing requires a high energy output. You put your entire body to work, you sometimes sit in an adverse environment, and you do so for hours at a time. And just think of how gassed you are paddling back out to the peak after riding a long set wave through several sections, sometimes out of breath and with arms, shoulders, and back fatiguing by the wave. It’s fair to say that every surf session is a marathon and not a sprint, so how you choose to fuel your ride is just as important as the shape of the board you do it all on. Therefore, we all know we need fuel suitable for long term endurance.
So, does surfing have a superfood? Bananas are a good start, paired with a complex carbohydrate like wholegrain bread. But your body is also going to need protein as well as more vitamins and minerals for optimal body functioning and recovery. Of all things, I make the case that nuts are actually the perfect go-to. They are a powerhouse of energy; highly prized for their protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy monounsaturated fat content. Pound for pound, they’re food that punches in well above their weight. For example, almonds contain 20 percent more protein of the equivalent weight of just one egg.
The Good Stuff
Most nuts contain Vitamin E, B2, folate, and essential minerals like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, and selenium. While they are fat dense, they’re filled with good fats like Omega-3s, for the most part. Their healthy lipid profile is protective of both our heart and health. The cherry on top is these tiny wonders have a low GI (glycaemic index) profile too, which unlocks slow-release energy. In short, they’re a a veritable storehouse of energy, vitamins, and minerals for extended sessions.
To maximize their nutritional benefits, it’s best to mix up your nut intake. Some nuts are higher in certain nutrients than others. Peanuts and pecans contain lots of B vitamins, for example, while almonds are rich in calcium and vitamin E. Walnuts contain folates, vitamin E, and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid), and all nuts add magnesium to your nutritional intake. So just a handful of mixed nuts will provide a far greater and more diverse range of vitamins and minerals than you would obtain from a single varietal.
Food for thought
In one large study, the eating habits and health of 210,000 people were analyzed over a 32-year period. Those participants who consumed five or more servings of nuts a week had a 14 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 20 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease than participants who never or rarely consumed nuts.
“Our findings support recommendations of increasing the intake of a variety of nuts, as part of healthy dietary patterns, to reduce the risk of chronic disease in the general populations,” said Marta Guasch-Ferre, Ph.D., lead author of the study and research fellow at the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
They are a clean source of fuel
Food production is responsible for a staggering 26 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To put that into perspective, global air travel accounts for about 2.5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. For all the discussions we have about how to better take care of our planet, what and how you eat is a great place to examine your own footprint. Surfers, of course, are a group that is typically conscious of how such habits affect the planet.
While eating local is a recommendation you hear often, and one that even makes sense intuitively — after all, transport does lead to emissions — transporting food only accounts for about six percent of global emissions. It turns out what you eat is more important than where your food traveled from in the conversation of emissions.
There are significant differences in GHG emissions of different foods. GHG emissions from most plant-based products are as much as 10 to 50 times lower than most animal-based products. For example, “while livestock takes up most of the world’s agricultural land it only produces 18 percent of the world’s calories and 37 percent of total protein,” making it a fairly inefficient use of habitable land. Producing just one kilogram of beef emits 60 kilograms of greenhouse gases (CO2 -equivalents) while the production of one kilogram of corn will emit just one kilogram. Nuts like almonds, on the other hand, can be carbon negative. They help to offset GHG emissions as nuts have a negative land-use change figure. Nut trees are currently replacing croplands; carbon gets stored in trees.
You can learn more about nuts as a superfood here.