Kelly Slater Diet – a key driver of his success?
At 42 years old and still dominating the World Surfing tour, Kelly remains an outspoken advocate for healthy eating, clean living and sustainable choices.
Regarded by many as the greatest athlete of all time, Kelly has won more World titles than any other athlete … EVER! (11 World titles and 3 Guinness World Records at time of writing). He is also a voice many listen to, with a solid social media following that he uses to discuss topics from surfing to the genetic modification of seeds in Hawaii. His approach to life both in and out of the water is based on an understanding of the relationship between mind, body and our environment. He is a smart man and learned the links between diet and performance early on.
I try and think about health and what I’m going to feel like when I’m 50, 70, 80 years old. If you don’t want to get old and have your kids taking care of you, you should probably be thinking about that right now.
Always Read The Label
Kelly Slater is naturally a highly curious person – curiosity being a known characteristic of successful people by making your mind active rather than passive. He wants to understand what is going into his body, being quoted saying he ‘reads ingredient panels of everything he buys’.
Wanting to learn the nutritional value of certain foods led him down many ‘wormholes of research’ as he put it, discovering about the impact of different foods on his body. Having lost his own dad to cancer in 2003 and many friends to diseases, all of those situations have made Kelly passionate about his own health and longevity.
I never really drew the correlation between my diet and my health, but as I got older and started traveling and competing, I became really on top of my eating. I still make sure I read about different diets, foods and the effects they have on the body.
Clean Eating & Sustainability
Food for me, is about being able to know where it comes from. You grow your own food; you have a certain level of respect for the food going into your body. Self-sustainability should be a goal for everyone. Creating less garbage.
Being mindful about your food’s journey from origin to plate is the essence of clean eating. Over processed foods not only have un-natural often chemical-based ingredients, they also have a depleted source of nutrients.
Kelly is an outspoken advocate of clean eating, seeking foods that grow in their natural state. Just one look at his Instagram will show you his passion for fresh, unprocessed and raw foods. He is mindful of the chemicals in his diet, even down to the genetic modification of seeds and the impact that has on the body and environment. He is known to even shy away from standard sunscreens which can contain chemicals that leak into our bodies through application on the skin.
Eating clean to me means not eating too many different types of foods all at once. I also try and eat a wide variety of the same nutrient. For instance, if you are into eating protein, I don’t think you want to always eat the same protein. You want to vary the types of amino acids you are eating.
The Legend of Surfing: Kelly Slater | Living an Organic Life
Fruit, Kombucha Tea & Chia Seeds
Kelly is known to drink a fermented Chinese tea called kombucha which is celebrated for its many health benefits including properties that fight arthritis and cancer. He has discussed starting his day making a tea of hot water, Lemon and honey to cleanse the body after sleeping: “I read about it and it seemed like a good idea” he said in interview with Bon Appetit.
I generally stick with fruit in the morning…. I do vegan smoothies–it’s just fruit and almond milk or a coconut milk. Sometimes it’s just the fruit. I do quite a lot of green smoothies and mix in sprouts. Greens will digest with fruits pretty readily
Chia seeds have been a staple part of Kelly Slater’s diet for sometime now. He has been sharing the nutritional benefits of the superfood on his Instagram discussing the high omega-3, fibre, protein and antioxidant properties of the seeds.
In 2014 he partnered with The Chia Company and developed a product called Chia Pod to bring the positive benefits of the seed to the world in a form that they could eat on the go. The product was inspired after a Hawaiian friend showed him that you could soak the seeds in coconut or Almond milk over night and eat it for breakfast. Clean and simple eating.
In 2014 he also launched the drink PURPS – a healthy alternative to the high sugar drink options available, consisting of six purple super fruits.
Kelly Slater on The Chia Co and Chai Pod
Food Combining & Fasting
After reading on the impact of food combining and how certain types of food digest in the body, Kelly pas attention to what foods he eats simultaneously. When in serious contest or health mode he mentions not mixing protein and carbs, as they both require different acids and alkalis to digest in your stomach. He also extends this to combining certain types of fruit, trying not to mix citrus and non-acidic fruits such as a grapefruit with an apple.
He has also discussed experimenting in fasting, just juicing or eating green veggies for a period of time as a way to clean his system and give his body a break. You digestive system never stops so giving it sometime off from breaking down complex foods is something that he finds benefit in.
Kelly Slater on Diet, Exercise and Winning
A lot of my injuries come from stiffness, imbalances
Creating a good range of motion in your body is vital for anyone looking to maintain and preserve their fitness. Any repetitive motion will cause strain on the body and often not in equal parts which can lead to injury. Kelly has been known to flow in and out of yoga throughout his career, falling back on it as method to bring that range of motion and concentration back to his body and mind.
I wanna have longevity. I wanna be 80 years old and be really strong and fit.
Kelly Slater is arguably an incredible role model both in and out the water. Through his interviews, voice across social media and development of nutritional, easy-access sustainable products (Chia Pod and PURPS), I have personally learnt to be more inquisitive about my food and what I put into my own body. He is a great ambassador that your body is your only vehicle and we should take time to not only learn about it, but how we can nourish it from the inside and outside.
In 2014 Kelly also left his longtime sponsor Quiksilver. His ethics around sustainability and particularly Quiksilver’s link to Monsanto and their questionable manufacturing techniques have been cited as a key reason for the split (source: The Inertia). What ever his reason, the World needs more Kelly Slaters and that ferocious curiosity that sees him want to better himself and all that follow him. What a legend!
Check out what snowboarder Travis Rice has to say on sustaining his body through diet, and hydration in Snowboarder Travis Rice on sustaining his body through diet, hydration and yoga.
Learn from the fittest female surfer on tour, Sally Fitzgibbons in Sally Fitzgibbons: The fitness, workout and diet of a champion surfer
Sources of information and more Kelly Slater diet reading:
Kelly’s blog post for The Inertia “Eat Like A Pro, Health Tips from Kelly Slater”
Kelly Slater Interview from Surfing Magazine “Under The Influence”
Health Tips from Kelly Slater