Kelly Slater Diet – A key driver of his success?

What does Kelly Slater eat? Renowned for his knowledge of nutrition, the 11 time world champion surfer is an advocate for healthy eating, clean living and making 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, 55 career victories, as well as being the youngest and oldest World Champion in men’s history. Plus 3 Guinness World Records, and this is only 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. 

The secret to Kelly Slater’s long career has been his healthy living habits, especially when it comes to his diet and what he eats.


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.


kelly slater health diet
Image courtesy of Chia Pod


Read: Snowboarder Travis Rice on sustaining his body through diet, hydration and yoga.


Always Read The Label

Kelly Slater is naturally a highly curious person – curiosity being a known characteristic of successful people. It makes for an active mind rather than passive. Kelly Slater 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 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. He even grows his own probiotics!


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 an 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.


Read: What does UFC legend Ronda Rousey eat in one day?


The Legend of Surfing: Kelly Slater | Living an Organic Life


Read: Sally Fitzgibbons: The fitness, workout and diet of a champion surfer


Kombucha Tea, smoothies & 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 an interview about his morning routine.

Kelly is also a huge fan of enjoying smoothies and juices throughout the day. Traveling all the time, ingredients for a good smoothie are usually easy to find and they double as a quickly absorbed snack or meal, that doesn’t take much time to digest – A great pre-surf breakfast. Smoothies are also a great way to get more vitamin C and fresh veggies into your diet. Keeping breakfast simple is part of Kelly Slater’s morning routine.


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 some time 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 overnight and eat it for breakfast. Clean and simple eating. Chia seed are also incredibly high in protein.


In 2014, in response to the ever-increasing number of artificial, high-sugar energy drinks, Kelly Slater launched the drink PURPS. It’s a healthy alternative to the high sugar drink options available, consisting of six purple super fruits. It is loaded with antioxidants and a plethora of vitamins and minerals. 


Read: Be A Good Human – Pro snowboarder Silvia Mittermüller on her GMO free diet


Kelly Slater on The Chia Co and Chai Pod



Food Combining & Fasting

After reading up on the impact of food combining and how certain types of food digest in the body, Kelly pays 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. Your digestive system never stops so giving it some time off from breaking down complex foods is something that he finds benefit in. In a 2 hour interview with Joe Rogan that is well worth watching or listening to, Kelly chatted about his regular fasting and doing fasts of up to 10 days. He highly recommends them as a way to clean out your intestines and ensure your body is absorbing all the nutrients from the food you eat.


I’ve done a ten-day fast, a Master Cleanse. I recommend it. You get all this stuff out of your colon that looks like your colon. It’s like old poop and it’s kind of gross.


Kelly Slater’s 2-hour chat with Joe Rogan


Kelly Slater on Diet, Exercise and Winning


Kelly Slater on yoga


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 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 a method to bring that range of motion and concentration back to his body and mind. But it is not just the physical practice of yoga that he enjoys. He relishes what yoga teaches about mindfulness and expectation. It helps him to keep an open mind.


It’s hard to go through life and not get stuck in patterns.  I think that’s when you grow old. When your mind is not expanding and staying open, you really age, physically as well.


I wanna have longevity. I wanna be 80 years old and be really strong and fit.


Read: Why every athlete should practice yoga


Kelly Slater is arguably an incredible role model both in and out of the water. Through his interviews, voice across social media, and development of nutritional, easily accessible, sustainable and nutrient-dense products (Chia Pod and PURPS), I have personally learned 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). Whatever 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!


Image courtesy of The ASP



Further reading:

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”
Kelly Slater’s healthy eating habits 

Hiya, I'm Alexa. Always on some sort of adventure! I'm excited to share my stories & introduce you to other rad women, also living the dream. I'm here to inspire you to do the same :-)


  1. First world problems. So who does he plan to let die of starvation from his disbelief in GMO’s and promotion of ancient and inefficient farming techniques?

    • Sorry Archie, people are no longer buying into the GMO hype. Ask the families of the thousands of farmers in India who committed suicide after GMO’s wrecked their livelihoods what they think of genetic modification and its false promise of mankind’s eternal salvation.

  2. Kelly, if you want to live longer inject small amounts snake venom! Otherwise, get with it, you are getting old, the body gets old, it fails you no matter what you do to it. Being realistic about life and understanding biology is key to knowing the limits of what food can and cannot do for you. Btw, fitness causes wear and tear on the body, your drive to remain fit will probably result in joint problems as you age further past the 50-60s. Honestly, aging has been here ever since we have, it has not changed. I think once you understand the age process, eating will be the last thing you will want to do!

  3. He truly is an inspiration and living proof that if you treat your body well, feed it properly and exersize daily it will have you living stronger for longer.
    I find the science behind food so interesting, so thanks for the youtube share – a great watch!!
    Loving your articles, keep them coming :P xx


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here