Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images; photo courtesy of the author

I Tried Laird Hamilton's Intense Diet, & Will Now Say Goodbye To Non-Powdered Food

by Joshua Norkin

There is a moment in the documentary Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton when Laird and his surfing partner Buzzy Kerbox decide they will prone-board from the Island of Corsica to the Island of Elba, which they believe is 23 miles away. Prone-boarding is basically an endurance sport that involves paddling belly down on a surfboard across the open ocean. Unlike surfing, instead of catching a wave at the end you just keep paddling.

The scene is notable for several reasons. Predictably, there are no waves to catch in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It also turns out that Laird misread the map. The “37” on the map didn’t mark European kilometers as they suspected, but nautical miles. The 23 miles they set out to paddle was actually 42 miles. It took nine hours.

The point is that you aren’t watching a surfer, you are watching a super athlete. Like Alex Honnold in Free Solo (minus the spatula), Laird is pushing the boundaries of physical endurance. If you want to catch every wave into your ‘50s, as Laird has done, you’d better have a strong workout game and eat well. Laird’s recipe book is called Fuel Up: Global Recipes for High Performance Humans. I don’t necessarily consider myself a high-performance human, but I am a dad living with two toddlers. That often feels like an endurance sport. Which reminds me, Laird also has two kids with the Olympian Gabrielle Reece.

Did Laird send me a dozen raw eggs with a tiny poker so I could get my protein straight from the source? Would I soon be prone paddling the Hudson?

So when I my wife promised she’d bring me home some of Laird’s new line of Laird Superfood try and review, I wondered, what exactly would I be getting? Energy bars? Did Laird send me a dozen raw eggs with a tiny poker so I could get my protein straight from the source? Would I soon be prone paddling the Hudson? Cutting my marathon time to qualify for Boston? In reality, I just fantasized about not being in Brooklyn, but in Hawaii.

Olympic volleyballer Gabrielle Reece with her husband, big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton. Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

What I received was a Laird Superfood Fuel Pack, extra-large. It came with an electric whisk and a wonderfully large insulated thermos. The mix of Laird Superfood products were all powdered and all required the addition of water. If I am being honest, my first reaction was “damn, this is a lot of creamer!” Generally, I am a black coffee guy, and never use creamer. Unfortunately, I am not a big coconut water fan either. Laird Superfood relies on coconut as a mainstay ingredient. Alas, perhaps worldwide shipments of dozens of raw eggs and tiny pokers was not a viable business model.

Orange juice with breakfast has been cast aside. A new day has dawned.

But, for those of you who thrive on coconut water, Laird has you covered. There are several different coconut water products with different flavors — tumeric, beet, and matcha. And, for people with dietary restrictions, including vegans and the lactose intolerant, these products fill a supervoid. For those looking for a way to pull in some additional calcium, many of the Laird products include Aquamin. Aquamin is “a calcified red sea algae, [a] naturally rich source of calcium, and 72 trace minerals” according to the Laird website, and a mineral supplement that may help counter osteoarthritis, per 2009 Nutrition Journal pilot study. Plus, of course, it comes from the sea. Hawaii, powdered and thrown in a blender, could be the tagline.

A selling point for Laird is a strict focus on natural and sustainable ingredients. "How does it taste?" asks an interviewer in a YouTube video entitled "Laird Hamilton: my intense diet." "It tastes a little earthy," replies Laird in up-speak.

Despite my personal preferences, lift up the hood and there is a lot of Laird Superfood that I really enjoyed. As someone who exercises a lot, but holds an aversion to serious water consumption, there was ample space to embrace Laird products. I actually have learned that I kind of like coconut water. The Organic Activate Daily Jumpstart was a product I will be buying more of. I thrive on spicy food, and adding the Daily Jumpstart’s powdered mix of lemon, ginger, cayenne and lucuma to a glass of water was pretty satisfying. Orange juice with breakfast has been cast aside. A new day has dawned. No, I still don’t know what lucuma is.

While I do not usually use creamer in my hot coffee, Spring is upon us and that means a switch to cold brewed coffee on ice. Instead of adding almond milk I have found I actually preferred Laird’s Superfood Creamer (unsweetened). While it can be difficult to mix, it provides a bolder and starker contrast than many nut milks. For those with nut allergies, or vegans, Laird Superfood Creamer is a pretty good place to land.

It's a lot of creamer... but stick with it. Laird Superfood.

In this same vein I actually thought the Original Instafuel — instant coffee with Original Superfood Creamer pre-mixed — was pretty great when put on ice. There is also a Matcha Instafuel, which helped me learn that Matcha definitely is not my thing. But, the Original Instafuel is something I’d probably pack on a camping trip instead of bringing along a bag of coffee grinds. That’s the kind of athletic, superhuman-inspired thinking I appreciate as a dad with an REI membership. For anyone who has ever spent a day surfing in a remote spot, running trails, or camping, you know how difficult it can be to carry bulky food products or get a caffeine fix in a pinch.

I often am not interested in eating solid food.

Finally, as a runner, I usually get my long run in on the weekends. Over the past several months I’ve turned to smoothies as a post-race meal. After 10 or 12 miles I often am not interested in eating solid food until I cool down, particularly in the summer. The Cacao Superfood Creamer has become a go-to ingredient for me. Generally, it is easy to envision a space for a lot of the Laird products in a blender.

Laird also has Performance Mushrooms and Hydrate Beet products that would fit this bill. I found that the Cacao Superfood Creamer brought up my normally bland smoothie game to a new level, complicating and enriching the taste. I will stick with it after my current supply runs low.

Society’s fascination with superhuman feats will never waiver. There is a reason Free Solo captured international acclaim. We have people like Laird and Alex Honold to thank for helping us understand that humans are rarely limited by physical ability. Laird Superfood alone is not going to keep you surfing big waves until you are 55. However, those of us with a coconut water fixation have something to be pretty happy about with Laird’s products. Those with dietary restrictions will find Laird to be a wonderful alternative to dairy or nut milk. Smoothie aficionados will want to find some space on their shelves.

For all of us dreaming to tackle that next big challenge, run the next marathon, scale the next wall, Laird and his Superfood provide just the right mix of nutrition and encouragement, or at least something you can down quickly while chasing a toddler with Play-Doh in his mouth.