Nutritional Strategies for Elevating Your Paddle Board Performance

Key Highlights

  1. The Energy Dynamics of Paddle Boarding: Understand the caloric demands based on activity intensity and type.
  2. Pre-Paddle Boarding Nutrition: Importance of complex carbohydrates for sustained energy.
  3. Hydration: Strategies for maintaining optimal hydration before, during, and after paddleboarding.
  4. Mid-Session Nutrition: Choosing the right snacks for energy and electrolyte balance.
  5. Post-Paddle Board Nutrition: Focusing on protein for muscle recovery and antioxidants for reducing oxidative stress.
  6. Customizing Your Nutrition Strategy: Tailoring your nutritional intake based on personal needs and consulting professionals for optimal performance.


Paddle boarding is not just a sport; it's a lifestyle that integrates balance, strength, and resilience. It caters to all types of enthusiasts, from professional wave riders who prefer solid paddle boards, to beginners who appreciate the accessibility and stability of inflatable paddle boards. Like any sport, nutrition plays a critical role in optimizing your performance, stamina, and recovery while paddle boarding. This comprehensive guide will delve into insightful nutritional strategies that can support you in your journey to elevate your paddle board performance.

inflatable boards and solid boards

The Energy Dynamics of Paddle Boarding

Before we venture into the realm of nutrition, let's first understand the physical demand and energy consumption involved in paddle boarding. Various factors such as your body weight, the intensity of your activity, and the specific type of paddle boarding you engage in (like touring, yoga, or racing) can influence your caloric burn.

According to an article by Glide SUP, a 160-lb individual could burn anywhere from 305 to 430 calories per hour of paddle boarding. Given this significant caloric expenditure, it's evident that the body needs the right kind and amount of fuel to enjoy and excel in this fun and fulfilling activity. Let's explore how nutrition plays a part before, during, and after paddle boarding.

Fueling Up: Pre-Paddle Boarding Nutrition

Complex Carbohydrates: The Slow-Release Energy Source

Before you set foot on your board and dive into the water, it's crucial to fuel your body with the right kind of energy source. Complex carbohydrates are ideal for this purpose. Unlike simple carbs that provide a quick but short-lived energy spike, complex carbs offer sustained energy release.

They are digested slowly, allowing a gradual release of energy that can keep your stamina high throughout your paddle boarding session. Whether you're navigating long distances on a touring board, or practicing a challenging SUP yoga sequence, your body will benefit from the energy stability offered by complex carbohydrates. Foods such as whole grains, beans, lentils, and starchy vegetables are excellent sources.

Hydration: Your Vital Ally

One aspect of paddle boarding that deserves attention is hydration. As you glide through the waves, the combination of sun exposure, wind, and physical exertion can deplete your body's water reserves, leading to dehydration. This can negatively impact your balance, strength, and endurance on the board.

Ensuring proper hydration before, during, and after your paddle boarding session is therefore paramount. Take along a water bottle or a hydration pack on your board to ensure you have easy access to water during your session.

Mid-Session Nutrition: Keeping the Energy Flow

Smart Snacking for Sustained Energy

Extended paddle boarding sessions can be energy-draining, but with the right snack, you can maintain your momentum. For on-board snacking, consider options that are healthy, energizing, portable, and non-perishable.

Nuts and seeds, for example, are packed with healthy fats that provide sustained energy. Energy bars can be a convenient and nutritious snack, especially those made with whole food ingredients. A piece of fruit can also serve as a quick and refreshing energy booster.

Maintaining Electrolyte Balance

stand up paddleboards

As you exert yourself during paddle boarding, you lose not just water but also electrolytes through sweat. These minerals, including sodium, potassium, and magnesium, play a critical role in muscle function and maintaining fluid balance.

To replenish lost electrolytes and prevent imbalances that can lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, and other issues, consider bringing along a sports drink or an electrolyte-rich beverage. Coconut water is a natural and refreshing choice, rich in potassium, and can help maintain your electrolyte balance during prolonged sessions on your paddle board.

Post-Stand Up Paddle Board Nutrition: Recovery and Rebuilding

Protein: The Building Blocks of Recovery

After pushing your muscles during an intense paddle board session, recovery nutrition is essential. Protein is the star nutrient here. It serves as the building block for repairing and rebuilding muscle tissues that have been worked during your paddling.

Lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, and plant-based proteins like legumes, tofu, and tempeh are excellent choices. Pairing these protein sources with a portion of complex carbs can further enhance recovery by replenishing the glycogen stores in your muscles.

Antioxidants: Protecting Your Body

Paddle boarding, like any physical activity, creates oxidative stress in the body. Antioxidants are compounds that can counteract this effect by neutralizing harmful free radicals produced during strenuous exercise.

Eating a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables can provide a wide array of antioxidants, promoting overall recovery and well-being. Berries, citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, and other brightly colored produce are all good choices.

Customizing Your Nutrition Strategy

Tuning into Your Body's Needs

Every paddler is unique in their body type, fitness level, and paddle boarding style. A 200-lb individual who engages in racing with a displacement hull board will have different nutritional requirements compared to a 120-lb individual who enjoys a more relaxed paddling on an inflatable paddle board.

Listening to your body, recognizing your hunger and fullness cues, and being mindful of how different foods affect your performance can guide you in customizing your nutrition strategy.

Consulting a Professional

If you're serious about your paddle boarding performance and wish to dive deeper into sports nutrition, it might be beneficial to consult a professional, such as a sports dietitian. They can provide a personalized and comprehensive nutrition plan based on your specific goals, needs, and preferences.

Wrapping Up

stand up paddle boards

Proper nutrition is a game-changer for any sport, and paddle boarding is no exception. Whether you're maneuvering through choppy waves on a solid board or exploring serene lakes on an inflatable SUP, fueling your body with the right nutrients can enhance your performance, endurance, and enjoyment.

From pre-paddle complex carbs and hydration to mid-session snacking and electrolyte balance, and post-paddle protein intake and antioxidant-rich foods, following these nutritional strategies can support your paddle board journey. As you continue to ride the waves, remember that nutrition is not just about feeding your body; it's about fueling your passion for paddle boarding.

Be sure to check out more paddle boarding tips and advice on the Glide SUP blog. Here's to health, happiness, and the joy of paddle boarding!

Here are some helpful resources on paddle boarding to enhance your SUP journey:

  1. Fitness on the Water: How Stand-Up Paddle Boarding Can Improve Your Health

  2. The Remarkable Health Benefits of Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

  3. What Muscles Does Stand Up Paddling Work

  4. Is SUP Good Exercise

  5. How to Train for a SUP Race

  6. Mastering Paddle Boarding from Beginner to Advanced

  7. SUP Benefits and Workouts

  8. How Stand Up Paddle Boarding Can Improve Your Health