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Everything You Need to Know About Surfing and Hydration

Long bouts of sunshine, saltwater, high levels of muscle use and strain. Surfers are exposed to all sorts of elements that lend to serious dehydration, and if you love surfing, then you need to put surfing hydration at the forefront of your focus.

I mean, aside from the simple fact that you literally need to stay hydrated to survive, being hydrated while surfing plays a key factor in your ability to surf well and to really just feel good doing it.

But surfing hydration is also unique. Our time spent in the ocean often hides the fact that you are sweating, and it goes without saying, but you can't drink water while you surf.

There's a ton of science and reasoning as to not only why hydration is so important, but also at how you can maintain the proper levels of hydration to bring out the best in your surfing, and we're going to hit on all you need to know about surfing and hydration to try and convince you to chug that last bottle of H2O before you paddle out, because it’s seriously important.

How to Approach Surfing Hydration

There really is an art to making sure that you are truly hydrated consistently throughout the day, as well as the night; hydration is a 24/7 gig.

Surfers are athletes, especially considering the fact that most of them also engage in a fitness routine outside of surfing, and this makes it so that hydration is even more essential to navigate correctly.

Although hydration for athletes involves more than just water, often a place that people first start is with the question of “how much water do I need to stay hydrated each day?”.

This is a good place to start, but it also takes more than just drinking a set amount of water each day.

Avoiding dehydration depends on a few factors, including your level of physicality during the day, and the proper times to drink the water will also fluctuate depending on when you are surfing or exercising.

In general, surfing hydration should start by dividing your weight in pounds by two. See that number?

That's the general number of ounces of water that you should be consuming throughout the day as an athlete (150lb person needs 75oz).

It's a lot, but it genuinely is a worthwhile goal to try and pursue. Hydration is the basis of our performance, with as little as 3% fluid loss leading to noticeable and definitive performance decreases.

On a day when you aren't surfing, just space out your intake as evenly as possible throughout the day.

If you have plans on surfing or exercising, however, it takes a different approach.

  • Of your daily limit, try to consume at least 20 ounces of water during the four hours before you paddle out.
  • This might sound crazy, but to stay hydrated while surfing you should bite the bullet and paddle in every hour or so, as staying hydrated during physical activity will require anywhere from 15-25 ounces of hourly water intake depending on exertion and body weight. Surfing is draining as all hell, so shoot for the upper end of that spectrum if you can.
  • A good rule of thumb for immediate post-exercise hydration is to weigh how much bodyweight you have lost during your activity and consume around another 20 ounces for each of those pounds lost. If I know surfers well, as I know myself, I'm not hopping on a scale every time I surf, so let's just agree on a 20-ounce re-intake for every 2 hours or so of surfing.

The rest of your daily hydration should come from drinking water before the initial four-hour window and after your immediate post-surfing hydration of replenishing your lost water weight throughout the morning, day, evening, and night.

Is Surfing Hydration Just Water?

Hydration spans far beyond only a necessary intake of H2O.

You lose endless valuable vitamins and essential minerals as you sweat and exert energy that will require replenishing to stay hydrated, one of the most notable being electrolytes.

Because of this, you also must consume the proper foods and other drinks, aside from just water, to ensure ample hydration while surfing. And also keep in mind that a touch of natural sugar in addition to your hydration is a good thing for your energy levels, as energy and hydration go hand in hand.

For other drinks, a few great sources of electrolytes include:

  • Coconut water: coconut water is a great source of potassium, an essential electrolyte for hydration.
  • Milk or nut milk: dairy milk contains high levels of calcium, which is also an electrolyte, as do some of the nut milk replacements if you want to stay dairy-free.
  • Sports drinks: sports drinks are created for athlete hydration and often include exactly the vitamins and minerals you lose. Just try and avoid those that are insanely high in sugars and fake ingredients, and go organic when/if you can.
  • Electrolyte water: a simple addition of the electrolytes you need added to water, tasteless and easy to take down.

For foods that contain the proper hydration related nutrients, try incorporating some of these into your diet:

  • Bananas: one of the best sources of hydration necessary potassium.
  • Yogurt: yogurt is an excellent source of calcium.
  • Watermelon: watermelon is the perfect pre-surf snack for ample surfing hydration, containing a little bit of natural sugar, potassium, and most importantly; literal water!
  • Avocados: you might not think about avocados when you think about hydration, but a little avocado toast in the morning is a great way to ensure you have plenty of potassium for complete surfing hydration.
  • Spinach: because Popeye could out paddle us all.
  • All other fruits: generally speaking, all other fruits contain a nice degree of water and sugar that is beneficial for hydration.

Tips to Stay Hydrated

How much water you need to drink and the other sources of hydration intakes have been laid out in front of you, but it doesn't change the fact that it still takes you, and by you, we mean a personal drive and consistency; to stay properly hydrated so that your surfing and general health both benefit.

For simple and applicable tips on how to stay hydrated, we got ya covered, and the most important thing to note is ‘consistency’.

Hydration doesn't just happen by chugging a big glass of water and calling it done. As the athlete's surfers are, we need to drink a ton of water and that only happens by consistently doing so throughout the day.

A Reusable Water Bottle

Get yourself a good, eco-friendly reusable water bottle. Find out exactly how many ounces your bottle is as this will help you to determine a set number of how many times you should fill it up and drink it down each day, and setting this goal will make it easier to follow through with.

Plus, you don’t waste any plastic.

The Morning Chug

When you wake up in the day, start your morning by chugging a big glass of water. Do this before your sugared-up coffee, and make it a ritual. Drinking a glass of water will help replenish what has been lost during your sleep and is said to energize you on par with caffeine.

Flavor your Water

If you are a fan of good taste, you don't have to sacrifice the joy of your taste buds just because it's water. Find yourself a good flavoring drop that you love, as hey, they even make ones that contain essential electrolytes; and give your water some flavor to help you stay stoked on drinking it down.

You could also try adding fruit slices to your water for enhanced taste and more hydration, but your buddies might heckle you when they see cucumbers and strawberries floating in your bottle.

Track your Water

There's an app for everything. We know all about the best apps to track your surfing fitness, but there's also plenty of applications out there that help to track your water intake!

It's not easy keeping track of this every single day of your life, and a simple app might provide to be a valuable asset in ensuring that your hydration needs are met. From jotting down how much water you drink to setting water reminders, take advantage of these helpful tools.

Hydrate with Other Food and Drink

We talked about some foods that contain high levels of electrolytes and water, so eat these foods! The more fruit the better, as these contain the most H2O, and your body will still absorb this water through digestion.

Other drinks that act as hydration are essential to change up the taste of water, as come on, you gotta add a little variety to life.

Avoid Sugar and Alcohol, and Drink More Water!

Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, the recommended sugar intake is no more than 50 grams per day, and you should do your best to stay as far below that value as possible. If you do consume sugar, the best times to do so are before exerting energy.

Keep in mind that there are different types of sugar, and naturally occurring forms of sugar (such as in fruit) are a much healthier and natural option than processed sugar. The more you avoid processed sugar, the better!

Sugar clogs your bloodstream and will require more water to flush it out, thus dehydrating you if you do not compensate.

Alcohol is all about anti-hydration. I am not dissing a post-surf brew, but just keep your alcohol levels mellow and always drink more water to make up for any alcohol consumption.

And if you could take one final thing with you, it is nothing more than the simple statement to drink more water!

Hydration takes work, and you'll get better at staying hydrated the more you focus on it, but the best place to start is always by just drinking more water.