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Nutrition Plan - Riverboarding - Josh Galt

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Josh Galt navigating a difficult river on a riverboardJosh Galt, pro riverboarder and owner of Face Level, shares his daily nutrition habits and how he fuels and hydrates for his adventures and competition.

Do you have a healthcondition or allergy (ex: gluten intolerance) that requires you to have aspecial nutrition plan?
I have been extremely fortunate in my life to not have any allergies or issues with food intolerance.

Do you follow a specific diet (ex: vegetarian, paleolithic etc…). If so,describe it and explain how is it benefiting you?
My diet doesn't fit under any particular label, other than perhaps the general ones of "healthy" and "organic". Eating organic, especially as much as I travel, is challenging but has gotten easier the past few years. But I still travel with as many supplements as I can fit in my luggage!

I've had to change my diet a bit since I left Costa Rica and moved to Asia, but I still have a diet that is high in tropical fruits, vegetables, and chicken. I eat fish whenever I can while being careful to know the source purity, which is an unfortunate part of eating fish now no matter where one lives.

 I also really love coconut water, one of my favorite things in the world. Since I live in a tropical area, I will drink several every day straight out of the coconut. Because the coconut palm is such a powerful filtration system on its own, coconuts are virtually "organic" no matter where in the world they're grown.

Fortunately for me, despite traveling a lot there has also been a huge boom globally in the packaged coconut water industry, and while some of them are mixed with garbage ingredients, there are still many brands made with raw, HPP coconut water and I've been able to find them in grocery stores and airports around the world.

Coconut and all its uses (water, milk, oil, flour, sugar, filtration, clothing and more!) is one of the most amazing foods on earth, and I use variations of it for as many parts of my life as are practical.

Specific foods that make up the bulk of my diet:
+ Boku Superfood and Super Protein (1-2 shakes a day, with fruit and raw oats or alone)
+ Pineapple (they're much smaller in Asia so I'll use 1-2 every day)
+ Papaya, mango, bananas, citrus, and other local fruits (mangosteen, rambutan, lancone, pomello and more)
+ Avocados
+ Quinoa (I have to import it now since I can't find it in SE Asia, but I absolutely love it. Usually eat white, the red and black are also good but crunchier. It's great raw in salads, or fluffed up like rice and mixed with really anything - pesto, added to stir fry, in soups,can even be eaten the same way as oatmeal!)
+ Garlic, tomato, cucumber, broccoli, carrots, beets, red peppers, ginger root, onions, olives, artichoke hearts, spinach, lemon, and other local leafy greens
+ Coconut oil (2-3 tablespoons in the morning, always on skin in place of sunscreen or tanning lotion, since it does both, and for use in cooking), coconut water, coconut meat, palm sugar as sweetener when needed
+ Chicken and grass-fed beef, fish when relatively clean and fresh
+ Non-iodized sea salt
+ Goat cheese or plain white cheese from local cows
+ Seaweed as a salty snack (dried)

 Do you supplement daily with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids, amino acids etc…?
I supplement with quite a few things and have been doing so since I was in young, so I am very in tune with my body and how certain supplements affect me.

 I've found a system that currently works for me, thanks to help from Cyril and Feed The Machine, and I'm feeling great!

+ Sportmulti - vitamin and mineral supplement (capsule)
+ Fluid Recovery - recovery drink (powder)
+ Boku Superfood and Super Protein (powder)
+ Recovery Amino Power - amino acid supplement (capsule)
+ AstaFactor - contains astaxanthin a powerful antioxidant food in algae (capsules)
+ Hammer Nutrition Tissue Rejuvenator - joint support (capsule)
+ Cayenne & Garlic (capsule and raw)
+ Kelp and Sun Chlorrella (capsule)

I've also begun experimenting with Seabuckthorn (also known as Seaberry) as it's rich in antioxidants, omegas 3-6-7-9, and has more than 10x the vitamin C found in oranges.

What’s your pre-workout/competition nutrition and hydration plan?
My sport of riverboarding is a very interval-intense, but spread out over a period of 2-4 hours usually (at times even longer), so I typically train for endurance as well as shorter, high intensity sprints.

I like doing High Intensity Interval (HIIT) cardio in the morning, on a virtually empty stomach (just water and pineapple or an apple depending on where I am). If it's going to be a longer workout though, I prefer to do that in the early afternoon - mornings are my most creative and productive work times so I schedule about 45 minutes for exercise.

 If I'm doing an anaerobic strength workout, I like to have a light snack beforehand, my favorite being avocados and almonds.Then for actual river trips, I will generally carb up as much as I can the evening before. Depending on the temperature I'm going to be facing (water and air) and the other factors of difficulty and distance, I'll sometimes go all in with pizza or pasta.

 I learned from a nutritionalist friend though about the hazards of improper food combining, and make a point to not combine protein and starch if at all possible (really hard to do with pizza, obviously). It doesn't digest well. So the best way to carb up for me is an awesome mixed salad and sprouted-grain pasta.

What’s your during workout/competition nutrition and hydration plan?
During workouts, I go with water + Nuun and that's pretty much it. But if I'm going to be out biking for a couple hours or on the water, I will take some gels and/or bars along as well. I also really like apples, pineapple, and avocados as quick energy, along with trail mix (pumpkin seeds are great!). Bananas too, but they're not a good choice to carry on the river…they don't like being cold and wet, and I don't like brown banana-gel!

Being a riverboarder, there's not a lot of room to carry extra food on the river (unlike in a kayak). So the most I can realistically take are some bars and gels and a camelback full of water + nuun.

 However, I have been on multi-day trips where we had raft support, and in that case I can bring a lot more good stuff in a drybag.

Generally packing still has to be light, so it ends up being shared meals of dehydrated Mountain House foods, but I always bring my Boku and shaker cup as well as enough supplements for however many days I'll be on the expedition. And lots of nuun.

What’s your post-workout/competition nutrition and hydration plan?
In hot climates I always crave pineapple, I would almost rather eat cold pineapple after a hot workout or tropical river, than drink water.

 I'm pretty religious about having my shaker-cup with me to mix up a Boku or Fluid Recovery shake within 15 minutes of finishing intense exercise as well, along with the second dose of SportMulti and Recovery Amino Power. Studies show it's super important to get those recovery nutrients in the body asap so I make it a point to do so.

I do all I can to avoid having to "train" where it's anything less than hot - my body prefers hot weather. But on trips in cold climates, getting off the river after a frigid day I usually am craving something salty - probably because even with drinking Nuun, I lose a lot of salts because of the wetsuit I'm wearing and how that affects the body's heating / cooling / sweating system.

Nuts are great (I love almonds and cashews) but no matter how many bars etc I take with me, I'm usually famished afterward and will order up a meal of the best meat and veggies I can find near the take-out. If I have access to my gearbag, I'll hit a recovery shake and supplements at the take-out too.

Do you compete in different types of events (ex: different distances or formats)? If so, is your nutrition/hydration plan different for each event?
I have competed in the past, most recently winning the Boardercross and Endurocross races at the TuckFest event at the US National Whitewater Center in 2013. Since then I have been working as the Director of the Riverboarding World Championship, so I don't get to race, though I do set the course so I'm able to at least see how my test times compare to the top athletes.

As the sport grows and others organize races, I'll be able to race more again, and I'm looking forward to testing myself against these youngsters!

At the moment, my competition is more focused on just pushing the limits of the sport, raising the bar on what riverboarders are able to run. That typically entails mentally and physically exhausting river expeditions and filming - they might only cover between 10km and 30km in a day, but a lot of times the rivers are at high elevation and / or in really cold water.

Riverboarding is also a full-body sport with very intense periods of action followed by slower sustained tempo until the next set of rapids. Despite having the benefit of current, whitewater is not something where you can just relax and float - the body is constantly in motion - flexing, balancing, and dancing with the forces of the river.

If scouting is necessary, or portaging, those hikes can be more difficult than any of the actual rapids, especially in a thick wetsuit. But compared to adventure racing, riverboarding is much more of a sprint-distance sport that rarely lasts more than 6 hours. Typical time on the water is 2-4 hours.

All that to say, I do a lot of interval training both running hills and in the pool or ocean, and overall I still train in a lot of ways like I did when I was playing American football and basketball. Whitewater is in some ways similar to a long basketball game,with brief periods of maximum intensity followed by brief periods of recovery but where you're still always moving, repeated for several hours.

The exception to that would be the Endurocross races, which are typically 20-30 minutes of all-out exertion both in rapids and in flatwater - it's a mass-start, winner takes all race. There are also some rivers that are basically one massively long rapid, which is a different kind of challenge, because it's still possible to catch an eddy for a brief rest if needed.

So overall I train similar to other interval-sports athletes, but with an eye on endurance because of the time spent on the river from put-in to take-out. Nutritionally, I want to be at my strongest for as long as possible when training and performing, and that mix is something I'll probably always be figuring out as I get older and my body's needs change.

Any other nutrition/hydration secrets you’d like to share?
Avoid processed foods, don't eat a lot of bread, and cut refined sugar completely. Just doing that alone would probably solve a massive amount of obesity and health-related problems in the world today.

I also almost never drink alcohol, which is very rare for a whitewater athlete. I can't stand how it tastes and it's not good for me, so I don't do it, with the exception of an occasional glass of wine. In all honesty I don't understand why athletes look forward to a beer, of all things, after an exhausting day on the river or at the finish line of a race! But that's just me - I'd rather drink coconut water or a fresh fruit shake. :)

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