It kinda makes sense that Kelly Slater eats well and cares about what he puts in his body. After all, the 39-year-old pro surfing champion hurtles at high speeds through giant ocean swells with just his two feet and a surfboard — not exactly the sort of activity suited for a Dorito-munching dude with a beer belly.
Still, it’s rare to talk to a guy with the kind of will power it takes to stick to tea and fresh-squeezed juices throughout the day. Slater, who has become an outspoken advocate of preserving the oceans and an ambassador for the healthy fast casual chain Daphne’s California Greek, sticks to his principles in and out of the water. But that, as he hints during a recent email chat with Food Republic, doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t eat a fish taco.
First up, where are you right now and what are you up to?
I’m in Santa Barbara and I’ve just been surfing and organizing my life a bit before I spend the rest of the winter in Hawaii.
How does eating affect surfing? Do you have to carbo-load or anything like that?
Eating affects everything you do. [It’s about] focus and physical strength/stamina. You have to have a balance of different things from your fruits (which I try to focus on in the morning) to your proteins and veggies, and also your carbs.
Would it be generalizing to say that surfers eat a lot of tacos?
Not really. Fish tacos are a staple for surfers, I’d say. Can’t really mess that up.
Can you tell us about your food history—like how you ate growing up?
I didn’t eat very well but didn’t starve. Just lots of sugar and ice cream and all that. When I was around 20, I really started educating myself about the health issues and [learned about] what foods do inside your body.
You’re about to turn 40. Has your metabolism changed as you’ve gotten a bit older?
Not that I notice. I feel as good as ever and don’t gain or lose much weight.
You travel a lot. Is it hard to keep to any sort of routine? How do you do it?
It’s hard to have a consistent routine on the road. After years of doing it you know how to pull it off based on what’s readily available in all of the places we go.
What are some of your favorite spots around the world for food? Any favorite restaurants?
I love France. Paris is amazing, and NYC has everything. LA is hard to beat and Singapore has the best of all worlds and lots of Asian and spicy foods that I love. My favorite restaurant is Tantina de la Playa in Bidart, France, a Basque seafood restaurant on the beach near Spain.
We know you’re involved in environmental issues with protecting the oceans. How do you feel about overfishing?
It’s a huge problem, but we have a giant population. It’s definitely something we need to look 5 to 10 and even 50 to 100 years out at and figure out solutions for now and long term.
Do you have any sustainable fish apps on your phone?
I don’t, but I’m pretty educated in which [fish] to eat and which to not order.
Any organizations you wanna shout out that people can support to help protect the oceans and reefs?
The first that comes to mind is the Plastic Pollution Coalition. I’ll leave it at that for now but I’ve worked a bit with them over the past few years.
What are your favorite beverages (alcoholic or non)?
Lemon and honey in warm water in the morning. Fresh pressed juices during the day. Almond Milk and smoothies.
Do you cook, and if so, what’s your best dish?
I make a pretty good pancake.
Last question: What do you eat if you want some comfort food?
Hot Chocolate and maybe some soup.
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