Are you losing muscle while you surf?
For those who don’t already know, protein is made of of smaller structures called amino acids. Amino acids help in thousands of different roles in the human body. There are 21 different amino acids that make up strands of proteins. Only 9 of these amino acids are needed to be consumed in our diet while the other 12 are made within our bodies. While protein plays a huge importance in our bodily functions, it is also used as an energy source. One gram of protein contains 4 calories which is the same as carbohydrates. Our bodies store protein as muscle or in our body’s amino acid pool. When our body burns protein for energy we replace that protein with extra protein from our amino acid pool. If we do not have adequate amounts of protein in our diet and we burn a lot of calories using protein sources, then it will result in muscle loss.
Now how is all of this important to a surfer? Well let me tell you. Surfing is a sport that is a combination of multiple types of workouts. Short bursts of powerful paddling, popping up, long paddle outs, pumping down the line, or just sitting on our board. These different types of workouts use different energy sources. Our energy comes from a combination of ATP, carbohydrates, fats, protein, and oxygen. When our body starts running low on ATP and carbohydrates, it starts using protein and fats as energy sources. This is the point of your surf session where you get tired easily while paddling and surfing on a wave. As surfers, we want to keep any muscle mass we already have. Muscle mass has a direct relationship with strength, power, posture, and injury potential. So the question is how do we prevent ourselves from burning muscle? Here’s a couple different ways:
Consuming adequate carbohydrates.Eating good amounts of carbs hours before a long surf session can prevent our bodies from having to use our protein stores for energy. Foods like oats, wheat, rice, grains, and fruits are good sources of carbs.
Consuming adequate protein. When we always have high levels of protein in our body then when our body starts burning protein it’s only burning our extra protein, not proteins from our muscles. Foods high in protein are meats, dairy, eggs, and beans.
Amino acid supplements. Specifically branch chain amino acids(BCAA’s). Research studies have found that when our body starts pulling amino acids to burn for energy it tends to target a specific group of amino acids called our branch chain amino acids. Drinking these before a long surf session can prevent muscle loss. There are a wide variety of branch chain amino acids in supplement stores.
Protein supplements. Protein shakes are high in fast absorbing proteins. Drinking these shakes an hour before a long surf session keeps our protein levels nice and high. Drinking these shakes within an hour after a surf session will help repair your muscles and help them grow stronger.