Electrolyte Replenishment and Hydration is Vital and Delicious

Just one last wave…we’ve all said it, and we’ve all not meant it. In Costa Rica, there is a word, sarpe, which basically translates to, “come on, just one last drink.” The funny thing about this word is that it almost never turns out to be one last drink, and the singular noun ends up heavily pluralized (often due to a second wind and too much fun). The connection between these two empty pleas for “just one more” is that they both typically end in dehydration.

Surfing, unlike landlocked sports, places us in an environment where we don’t have easy and immediate access to means of hydrating while we are out in the waves. We also don’t feel our bodies sweating in the ocean and in turn aren’t as conscious as we might be on land of the amount of fluids and essential minerals that we are losing.

When we sweat, we lose electrolytes, especially potassium and sodium. Electrolytes, or salts, play a crucial role in the proper functioning of our bodies. Our cells, especially nerve, heart, and muscle cells use electrolytes to maintain their electrical voltage and to carry out electrical impulses. We must replace the electrolytes that we lose when we are doing what we love in order to avoid things like muscle cramps, fatigue, join pain, dizziness, trouble concentrating, confusion, heart palpitations, dry mouth, and intense thirst.

As surfers, we want to feel and perform at our best out in the ocean. We want to be able to surf for as long as we possibly can (waves and conditions permitted too, of course). However, without the proper pre-hydration and post-hydration plan, it is possible to find ourselves in a compromising position that can greatly affect our health, put us in physical danger, and diminish our surfing performance and experience. As an athlete, on top of drinking two liters of water a day, an additional ½ liter (500ml) should be consumed for every hour of surfing that we enjoy.

The warmer the water and more intense the sun, the more electrolytes you will lose while surfing. While we might not sweat as much as a long distance runner, we still need to make sure that our electrolytes are replenished and remain in balance. Our bodies need more than just water when we are engaged in vigorous physical activity. It is actually possible to drink too much water, which can cause an electrolyte imbalance.

Our first idea might be to replenish and rehydrate by drinking a sports drink, like a Gatorade, but there are actually far better and healthier options. While sports drink contain the electrolytes that we need to replenish the ones that we lost while in the midst of an epic surf session, they also contain an inordinate amount of sugar. A sports drink can contain as much as 13 tablespoons of sugar!

Instead of grabbing a sports drink after your wave saturated session, try one of the below options. Your body will thank you graciously!

Chia Seed Shot


Chai seeds do wonders for hydration and electrolyte replenishment. These tiny little seeds can absorb 9-10 times their weight in water. They are also chalked full of calcium, magnesium, and omega-3. For a pre or post surf energy and electrolyte boost, a chia seed shot will do the trick quick. Simply place 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds into a glass of your choice (think shot glass size) and add water to cover seeds. Let the seeds soak for 5-10 minutes. They will blow up in size and have a kind of gelatinous coating around them. Shoot it down!

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