Britte | The Food-Intake of Recreational Surfers
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07 Jul The Food-Intake of Recreational Surfers

My mission to bridge the gap between knowledge about surfing and nutrition requires research. Writing my Bachelor’s thesis was a chance to start building on that road, so I did, by researching and criticizing the food-intake of recreational surfers. To give you an impression of my findings, check out the abstract of my thesis!

“Surfing is a moderate to high-intensity water sport, currently practiced by 8.000 to 10.000 Dutch. During surfing sessions, there is no access to food or drinks, which makes optimizing the dietary intake around surfing sessions essential in order to maintain performance. Research shows an inadequate dietary intake by surfers. Realizing an adequate energy- and fluid intake, optimizing glycogen synthesis and recovery and adaptation of muscle protein can be challenging for surfers. The aim of this study was to determine dietary recommendations from available literature concerning energy-, carbohydrate-, protein- and fluid intake on a surfing day, which are currently lacking. Thereafter, the mean daily energy-, carbohydrate-, protein and fluid-intake of two surfing days and the mean carbohydrate-, protein and fluid-intake around two surfing sessions of twelve adult recreational surfers in The Netherlands were compared to these recommendations. This answered the main question of this research: ‘To which extent does a group (n=12) of adult recreational surfers in the Netherlands meet the dietary recommendations regarding energy, carbohydrates, protein and fluid on surfing days?’.

Energy-expenditure during surfing and dietary recommendations concerning carbohydrates, protein and fluid on surfing days were investigated by literature research. An estimation of the participants’ dietary intake was obtained through two 24-hour recalls, processed in Compl-eat. Dietary intakes were compared to the dietary recommendations found in the literature by one-sample t-tests conducted in SPSS. Besides, percentages making the recommendations were inspected.

Based on the literature, the estimated energy-expenditure of surfing is 3 to 11 kcal/kg/h. The mean daily energy-intake of the participants was 2985±562kcal. Daily energy-intakes were lower than (67%) and within (33%) their individually calculated energy-expenditure on surfing days (BMR x PAL, corrected with energy-expenditure for the time spent surfing). The recommended carbohydrate-intake of 6 – 10g/kg was not met, with a mean intake of 4.1±0.67g/kg (p=0.000). Sixty-seven per cent meets the daily-recommended protein-intake of 1.2 – 1.8g/kg, with a mean intake of 1.5±0.39g/kg (p=0.026). The recommended protein- intake of 20 – 25g within 30 minutes post-exercise was not met, with a mean intake of 1.9±5.3g (p=0.000). The recommended fluid-intake before surfing (400 – 600ml 2 – 3h and 300 – 450ml within the last 20 minutes before exercise) was not met, with mean intakes of 79.4±104.9ml (p=0.000) and 16.8±40.4ml (p=0.000), respectively. No significant results were found about the daily fluid-intake and the carbohydrate-intake around surfing sessions.

Daily energy- and carbohydrate intakes during surfing days were lower than the established recommendations. Total fluid- and protein-intake during surfing days met the established recommendations, but intakes around surfing sessions did not. Adult recreational surfers in The Netherlands should improve their dietary intakes in order to meet the established dietary recommendations and improve performance.

The relevance of the adopted dietary recommendations for surfers should be questioned. Research showed that a limited carbohydrate-intake would stimulate training adaptation. Sports-dietitians and surfers can use the results of this research to optimize dietary intakes. During follow-up studies concerning surfers, it would be interesting to research behavioural determinants, the effect of dietary intakes during surfing and the variety in dietary intakes in different climates.”