The Surfer Diet
=Improved performance from surfing to brain function.
The Surfer Diet (as well as the-do-good-at-everything-else-diet) is based on the Keto Diet. At the most basic level, the premise behind the Keto Diet is that you eat fat to burn fat. Ketosis is a process used by the body since the days of the caveman. When food is intake is low, the body starts producing ketones to use as energy. Instead of using glucose derived from carbohydrates, the body using ketones to survive. No glucose in your system means your body will naturally run on fat. I’m not a scientist and I’m not going to explain the entire process here, but the main takeaway point is to eat fat to burn fat. If you would like a more in-depth explanation of ketosis, click here.
Let’s talk about why you should care. The benefits of ketosis for the average surfer include weight loss, energy, mental focus and physical performance but the keto diet has also been shown to combat diseases like cancer and Alzheimers. It’s pretty powerful stuff and even at it’s most elementary level everyone can feel better, think more clearly and perform at a higher level on the high fat, low carb diet. That’s why this information is golden: it is applicable to everyone and has wide-ranging positive results for people with all different health goals or concerns.
Emerging from the Brain Fog
I literally spent much of my late 20s feeling like I was in a fog… During law school, I often couldn’t stay awake in class, in the car, or on the couch. Entire days went by where I felt heavy, disconnected and unable to shake that feeling. I knew then that eating bread almost instantly made me sleepy but I didn’t realize everything else I was eating was contributing to this overall feeling of lethargy.
Many of my friends said they loved being in their 30s because they felt like they’d figured life out. I’m 33 now and wouldn’t say I’ve got everything sorted but I have figured out eating for energy, mental health and overall well being. Since using intermittent fasting (see my Bulletproof Coffee post or The VidaWell’s Guide to Fasting for more info) and eating a high fat, low carb diet came into my life, my brain fog has lifted. I no longer feel sluggish, have trouble waking up or staying awake (well, except on planes, I’m a known airplane narcoleptic). I wake each day ready to kick butt and don’t feel like a slave to cravings or “hangovers” from eating food that doesn’t suit my body. This is all great for me in that I just feel better overall, but the really cool incidental part is that my diet might be improving my surfing.
So What’s This Got to Do with SURFING?
There is a lot of interesting research right now about how ketosis can improve physical performance in everyone from Olympic athletes to Navy Seals. In particular, research has indicated that ketosis can improve your ability to hold your breath.
Breath-hold is especially interesting for surfers because increased breath hold = more confidence = bigger waves.
Ketosis “can vastly reduce the need for the brain to use oxygen to burn glucose. This is because the brain can use up to around 75% of its fuel from ketones. So a ketone-fed or a fat-adapted brain can be better equipped to withstand low oxygen availability and potentially support longer breath-hold times.” – Ben Greenfield, of Ben Greenfield Fitness, read more here for an incredibly in-depth explanation of why people interesting in overall longevity should opt for high fat, low carb for life and athletic training.
Basically using fat for fuel makes your body require less oxygen, perfect for surfers getting held down by set waves or for freedivers who wish to stay underwater longer. Being able to operate and stay calm when you’re under the influence of reduced oxygen is a tool used by everyone from Olympic athletes to executives (check out this article in the Wall Street Journal about the popularity of free diving techniques). If you can control your heart rate and tendency to panic underwater, you will be a gun when it comes to other high-stress situations.
I’m Not a Pro Surfer, I Don’t Surf Big Waves, Why Should I Care?
For some surfers, using diet and freediving techniques to improve breath hold means that they can tackle waves like Hawaii’s Pipeline or California’s Mavericks. But scaled back to the weekend warrior surfer or the surfing mum or dad, these techniques are still extremely useful. You don’t need to be training to charge 8-10 foot surf to add a few tools to your repertoire to help you be more confident in 2ft, 3ft, 4ft or even 5ft surf.
Plus being able to hold your breath, stay relaxed in stressful situations, and being in overall better health have benefits that exceed the bounds of our surfing lives.
Once you lift the veil covering some basic myths about your health, you will see how you eat, exercise and think affects every area of your life including surfing. That is what I am aiming to do with my upcoming eBook – to show you how your fear, your fitness, and your food is connected to your overall well being, mindset and surfing! At the very least, I will be amassing tools that can help even the most beginner of surfers feel more confident in the water. Crazy as it may sound, one of those tools is FOOD.
If you would like to read more about ketosis and see an example of a keto recipe, check out my Mexican Lasagna Recipe (which is vegetarian) or my Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies or for bread lovers, my Activated Sunflower Seed Bread. Check out my eating philosophy here.
I suggest focusing on produce, good fats and small amounts of good quality protein to reduce food costs when eating high fat, low carb. For more info on eating keto on a budget, click here.
Be sure to sign up on the Surf Stoked Moms mailing list as I will be emailing all subscribers a FREE copy of my eBook that explains using the high fat, low carb for surfing and kicking ass in life!