It’s impossible not to be inspired when listening to Laird Hamilton speak about his wellness journey and obvious deep-rooted passion for healthy living.
An icon in his own right, the world-renowned big-wave surfer, legendary waterman and entrepreneur has in many ways paved the way for aspiring and professional athletes in the space when it comes to pushing the limits of fitness and focusing on clean, sustainable nutrition.
Founder of Laird Superfood—a collection of plant-based nutritional supplements—and a training program, XPT Life, which focuses on aquatic free-weight and stamina exercises, Hamilton touches on every element of a well-rounded wellness routine.
Beyond the coconut water, turmeric and extreme training and recovery techniques he’s become known for, we were curious about Hamilton’s guiding principles, theories and practices when it comes to nutrition and overall wellness. Plus, he shares the perfect summer recipe using the newest flavor from Laird Superfoods HYDRATE.
How would you sum up your approach to “wellness”? How has that approach changed and evolved over the years?
I’ve been on a mission to improve my health for decades. Whether it’s my fitness routine or diet, I’ve never stopped looking for ways to optimize my body and mind, not only looking to improve myself, but also to help provide information to my friends and family through my research and experimentation to see what actually works.
I’ve always felt that you can accomplish anything if you are using the right fuel and that starts with clean, whole-food ingredients.
You seem to have a very balanced approach to fueling the body through diet—what is your take on some of the diet trends? Which ones (if any) make the most sense and have the most merit in your mind?
Food is essential to helping me keep my energy up throughout the day, which is why I only choose things that naturally fuel my body, rather than loading up on things that’ll slow it down. I would say that Gabby [Reece] and I observe a Paleo-style diet, but we are both advocates for a plant-based, whole-food lifestyle.
We just like to add a small amount of high-quality fish and meats and try to eat a variety of vegetables daily. The biggest thing is to be mindful of using REAL food as fuel and medicine, but don’t be dogmatic about eating.
From reading your book “Fuel Up,” it’s clear you place a huge emphasis on sustainability, the source of your food and its journey from farm to table. For those who aren’t able to grow their own food, what is the most important tip to remember when trying to navigate the super market, reading labels, etc. from a health perspective?
Do your research on companies or local suppliers—be conscious of where products you buy come from or how they’re made. The amazing thing about Laird Superfood creamers and coconut waters is that you’re already drinking coffee and water throughout your day, but by making just one little swap from your usual sugary latte or sports drink to using whole-food ingredients, you’re setting yourself up for success in a much bigger way.
What does a day of eating look like for you when you are training with weights or in the pool? What about if you are headed out to surf?
It’s all about consistency and simplicity. Since I view food as fuel for the body, I’m choosing what to eat and drink based on how it will help me perform and sustain my active lifestyle.
Upon rising, I immediately reach for my Activate Daily Jumpstart and mix it with a glass of water to kickstart my body. My morning mostly consists of coffee from my superfood line and adding in either my Original or Turmeric Creamers for a long energy burn. Lunch is typically my first meal of the day and is comprised of high-quality animal protein paired with vegetables.
I try to eat as naturally as I can and eliminate dairy, carbohydrates, alcohol and dessert. And I try not to snack as a habit, unless it’s macadamia nuts or pili nuts. I usually top off my evening meal, which is built similarly to lunch, with Chaga mushroom tea and I make sure to hydrate all day with my HYDRATE line.
Talk about some of the ways you promote recovery after workouts: What do you eat and what other tools and tricks do you use to keep inflammation down and promote quicker recovery times?
Hydration is key to optimum performance, recovery and flexibility. I also try to incorporate sauna sessions into my evening routine and use HYDRATE Laird Superfood products to intake minerals that were lost while working out.
A part of your XPT program is exposing the body to extreme hot and cold temperatures, via heated sauna and ice baths. Can you explain how this affects the body’s physiology from a scientific perspective? Is one (heat vs. cold) better when it comes to the body’s recovery?
Over the past 20 years, Gabby and I have found that cycling some time in the sauna with a dip in an ice bath provides an incredible boost in our recovery. Most people tend to be wary of the ice bath because obviously the heat sounds more fun, but there is substantial evidence showing that hot/cold contrast is better than just heat alone.
Multiple studies found that cold water immersion significantly delayed onset muscle soreness for up to 96 hours post-exercise and limits muscle pain and swelling. Heat also helps with muscle pain, but also increases the body’s aerobic ability through cardiovascular adaptations and enhances its thermo-regulatory ability. An easy way to adopt the practice is to start with heat first and then progress to cold.
Talk about the importance of breathing and breath work, as it impacts our overall wellness—physical body reactions, as well as how it effects the mind and mental focus?
Overall, I think a relationship with your breath is definitely going to enhance your athletic performance. You have a conscious awareness that you might not have had before you started. Breathing is ultimately the essence of life. No breath, no life. No oxygen, no life.
It’s something that we overlook, because we do it unconsciously, but once you harness it to perform better in your workouts, you’ll see how your results progress. You’ll be able to do more when your body is properly supplied with oxygen.
What’s your best piece of advice, or a lesson you’ve learned, for maintaining a consistent, healthy eating pattern to support an active lifestyle?
Consistency is key. You will feel and see results over time if you continue to maintain a steady plan for your eating and active habits. Everyone has rest days, including myself, but the longer you maintain those healthful choices, the better your performance will become in the long run.
What keeps you motivated to continue pushing yourself on a daily basis?
In terms of my company, it’s incredibly important to the team at Laird Superfood that our business operates with the most responsible and ethical practices possible. That will always be a core pillar for the company.
At the same time, I want to give people clean products that enable them to perform at their best no matter what they’re doing. I tend to be attracted to businesses that are a real extension of myself or my lifestyle and a well-balanced lifestyle is so important to my career as a surfer and athlete that I think others seeking healthful changes could benefit from those habits as well.
Laird’s Pineapple Frozen Margarita Mocktail
“Many of my favorite recipes involve using Laird Superfood products, which we share on our blog,” Laird tells us. “Since my style of eating refrains from alcohol, a fun way to circumvent the urge is a mocktail or summery drink.”
– 1/4 cup each of frozen pineapple and mango
– 1 tbsp of Pineapple Mango HYDRATE powder
– 3/4 oz lime juice
– 1/2 oz agave syrup
– 1/2 cup water
– Lime and Tajin for garnish
– Optional: tequila
– Blend frozen fruit, Pineapple Mango HYDRATE, lime juice agave syrup and water.
– Run a lime wedge around the rim of the mason jar and dip into Tajin.
– Pour drink into mason jar and garnish with a lime.
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