Having a healthy diet is extremely important especially when it comes to maximising your performance during tough and strenuous sporting activities such as scuba diving. It is not all just brains but brawns as scuba diving is an extremely taxing sport and every diver has to ensure that he or she is physically up to the task that is ahead.
Many scuba shops may try to sell you the best dive gear and equipment to better improve your diving experience. But here’s how you can genuinely improve it just by sticking to a healthy regime of clean eating and dieting.
1. Eat the Right Amount of Food
Often not mentioned in other dieting articles. Eating the right amount of food for your body is extremely important because not everyone’s body is the same. Some people require more food while some require less and this is based on calculating what your body needs to maintain a healthy mass. Several scuba divers have mentioned that you have to eat to match your body output, that is, eating enough calories to balance out the amount burnt during your daily diving regime. This can be done by calculating your body’s current mass, height and your age.
A great application we recommend that you can begin with is the MyFitnessPal app by Under Armour that is available on all Iphone and Android stores. Through the app you are able to set your goals such as maintaining your weight. You can then input the daily intake foods and activities to see your calories level in the day. Remember, managing your diet can be tedious but it is imperative to promoting a healthy scuba diving experience!
2.Eat Before You Dive!
We cannot stress this more. Always ensure that you have eaten something before you dive. Many divers avoid eating breakfast or any meals before diving and end up losing an average of five to ten kilos in a month! Now that’s unhealthy. Scuba diving is a very strenuous activity and your body requires a lot of energy to perform in such conditions. Especially for freedivers, having low blood sugar will affect your body’s ability to hold its breath! So eating is important, we can’t stress it any further.
You can start with a simple bowl of oats 3 hours before your dive session in the morning, or a fruit at least 45 minutes before you dive. We recommend taking bananas just because they help provide a good amount of potassium.
3. Avoid Consuming Unhealthy Fats
Every scuba diver, regardless of their proficiency level, should always stick to a healthy balanced diet of protein and vegetables with a small amount of good fats. However, it is important to avoid consuming too much fat as fat molecules will bond with red blood cells and you will end up carrying more fat molecules than oxygen in your bloodstream.
Consume healthy fats such as avocado and nuts but do not eat them in excess. Avoid unhealthy fats like saturated fats and trans fats.
4. Eat Iron Rich Foods
Your body uses iron to create hemoglobin which is what makes the bond between oxygen and red blood cells. Hence consuming iron can be beneficial to freedivers who engage in longer breath holds under water.
If you are a freediver, we recommend taking in iron rich foods such as beans and spinach. Iron exists in most ingredients in both vegan and meat diets.
5. Making Your Meals Right
Apart from eating the right foods, having them spaced out between meals play an equally important role in ensuring that you get the most out of them.
When it comes to breakfast, one can consume a bowl of oats with berries, and honey. We recommend adding in a touch of cinnamon as it acts as a digestive enzyme to help digest the food faster.
After training or dive session
Drink a carbohydrate heavy protein shake as it will aid in the muscle reparation process. Consume something high in antioxidants such as berries as it will help rid off free radicals that were created in your body during the stresses of your dive.
Your lunches should be a balance between carbohydrates, proteins and fats. For carbohydrates, we recommend eating vegetables such as beetroot. For proteins, you can decide between eggs, fish, and meat. Lastly for fats, remember that healthy fats such as avocado, mixed nuts or chia seeds can play a big role in keeping you fit and healthy!
If you are planning to snack, take something healthy. Avoid the leftover Chinese New Year goodies, you can have those during the next celebration but for now, take some fruits just because they are good for you.
Same as your lunch but please mix up your foods and try to avoid eating the same as what you have had for your lunch.
One Diet Does Not Fit All
All in all, apart from eating the right foods and eating before your dives, be sure to experiment with what works best for you. Not all diets work for everybody simply because no one is the same in terms of their body.
Don’t be afraid to try other foods as well, what we have provided are merely recommendations. Ultimately you should stick to what works for you. Some divers eat 65% carbohydrates, 25% protein and 10% fat. Some do not but yet they are able to perform at their best based on their diets because they know what is good for them.
Universally, you should avoid fatty and sugary foods, foods that are high in lactose, animal products and alcohol.
Lastly, stay hydrated all the time. Eating fruits that are rich in electrolytes can help you stay more hydrated and be less prone to cramps.
Eat well, and dive well!