Evidently, feeding plays a fundamental role in the development of a day of diving, as for any other sport a balanced meals and with good nutrients is the best thing.
The truth is that the food that a diver needs is not very different from what an active and healthy person may need, but it is convenient to keep in mind some tips and guidelines necessary to improve our safety and performance both in and out of the water.
The first thing to know is that diving is an aerobic sports activity of moderate to medium intensity, in which between 400 and 500 calories are expended, although this energy consumption depends largely on the level of effort made, the duration of the dive, the water temperature, technique and experience of the diver.
What to eat and when to eat, are undoubtedly the keys to diving-oriented nutrition. Therefore, I will now address the main nutritional tips that will help us to dive more safely and improve our health and performance underwater.
What To Drink?
More important than eating is drinking properly because proper hydration is essential to ensure our safety. The truth is that some people tend to forget to drink enough liquid and this is a big mistake.
In sports such as diving, contact with water seems to make us forget the importance of ingesting liquids, a big mistake if we take into account that once the body is immersed in water it undergoes a series of changes necessary for it to adapt to the environment, among which the loss of water due to an increase in diuresis stands out.
In this sense, drinking water is the best option, since other types of beverages tend to have their drawbacks.
Carbonated or sugary drinks are not recommended, since they produce stomach gases that can be extremely uncomfortable and can even be harmful if we are under pressure or rather in decompression during the ascent.
Citrus fruits increase the chances of retching or vomiting underwater, so they are not recommended either. As we know, seawater itself favors this fact, so acids increase or enhance reflux.
Can I Drink Coffee Before Diving?
As for coffee or tea, although in principle they are not inadvisable, the truth is that they have diuretic effects, so they increase the loss of fluids through urine, which does not make it advisable before immersion.
What do Scuba Divers Eat?
I want to emphasize the importance of breakfast, as it is already the most important meal of the day. But in the case of diving, it is even more vital, because normally the majority of immersions are made early in the morning to enjoy the sea in calm and better climatological conditions. That is why breakfast is one of the most important meals in a diver’s diet.
Obviously, we cannot fall into the error that the typical breakfast of a simple coffee with milk is sufficient and can lead to a process of hypoglycemia.
If we dive first thing in the morning, the ideal is a snack based on milk or yogurt, fruit, or cereals. For example, a bowl of cereal with semi-skimmed milk, 1 yogurt, and fruit. Among the fruits, I recommend pear, as it is very digestive and provides many nutrients, orange for its high content of vitamin C and banana or pineapple.
However, as I indicated above, in some people the intake of fruit juices, and especially those rich in vitamin C, increases the production of gastric juices in the stomach, favoring situations of dizziness during the dive.
After or Between Dives
We should not forget that the food we eat is the gasoline that makes our muscles work properly, so the daily caloric intake should be sufficient and always proportionate to the effort made and the ambient temperature. Keep this in mind when you choose your meal after diving or between your dives.
After the first dive of the day, you should opt for a more substantial lunch, with toast, crackers, eggs, a light sausage or cooked ham or turkey breast.
Scuba Diet Recommended Guidelines
In the specific case of a scuba diver diet, the main element is carbohydrates, which should represent 60% of the diet. To obtain them we should opt for foods containing the so-called “slow assimilation sugars”, which we will find in pasta, bread, potatoes… We will increase the quantity of these foods, which should be much higher than those containing fats, and we will supplement the diet with vegetable sources (lentils, peas…), taking into account that legumes are essential to provide the fiber that we need for a correct intestinal transit.
We will provide calcium through the milk and dairy products, and vitamins thanks to fruit.
It is therefore essential to avoid convenience foods, all the so-called “fast food”. The athlete’s diet should be as natural as possible, without foods riddled with preservatives, dyes, and additives.
Keep in mind the following GOLDEN RULES for a correct diet:
- Meals should be simple – it is preferable that they are many and light than few and abundant. In this way we favor less heavy and faster digestions; in addition, the energy contained in the food will reach the muscles more quickly.
- Eat vegetables at the beginning of meals. These foods contain mineral salts and trace elements that facilitate the metabolization of other products.
- Replace refined carbohydrates with whole grains, which will ensure a sufficient supply of fiber.
- The limited ingestion of white meat reduces the index of cholesterol in the blood, helping to maintain the blood vessels clean.
- It is advisable to drink a lot of water, preferably outside of meals. The liquid is fundamental in the diet of an athlete since these people lose a lot of water due to perspiration. Of course, alcohol is not at all advisable, neither is coffee.
- It is essential to chew correctly. Keep in mind that digestion begins in the mouth.
- Try to rest for a few moments after each meal.
OTHER PRACTICAL TIPS
In addition to all that I have mentioned, there are a series of tips that should be taken as RULES in the case of the diver:
- Never eat a large meal before a dive.
- Allow approximately two hours to elapse before diving, after a normal meal.
- Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after dives.
- It is advisable to drink at least half a liter of water two hours before diving.
Avoid the onset of thirst; as soon as you feel thirsty, you should be aware that dehydration has already begun.
The importance of cholesterol is also fundamental in the diet of any diver, our heart is subjected to pressures, and underwater pressures are greater than normal, therefore:
- Meals must be rich in carbohydrates (pasta, rice …) vitamins (all kinds of fruits) dairy products, fish (blue if possible), and vegetables and greens.
- Meat should have a more moderate role. And to be replaced as much as possible, by fish and legumes.
- As far as possible try to avoid fatty foods rich in cholesterol.