I’m often asked by new divers what they should eat in the days before they dive. Unlike athletes participating in high energy endurance sports like marathons or football games, divers don’t have the need to “carbo load” the night before the big event. Carbo loading loads muscles with stored carbohydrates (glycogen) giving athletes a readily accessible energy source for working muscles. However, enjoying a pre-dive pasta dinner is a bad idea since loading up on lots of oil-laced pasta, buttered bread and high-fat dressing will only add time that you’ll spend in the boat’s head. Rather than pack your muscles with glycogen, the best thing you can do in prepping for a dive is Drink Water. What you eat might just make the difference between having a safe, fun diving adventure and one that may end you up in the chamber. Here’s some other helpful nutritional tips to help you make the most of your trip.
The Week Before You Dive:
- Build up your water and carb storage, in that order. Drink enough water throughout the week to make your urine “clear” the last few days before a dive. Being well hydrated can make all the difference in getting cramps and can prevent decompression sickness.
- Remember any alcohol before your dive is a bad idea and dehydrates your system and makes you lose body warmth, a bad combination for diving.
- Make bread and starch and fruit be a big part of your diet. One half to two-thirds of your calories should also come from complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, pasta (in moderation), veggies and fruit. Eat plenty of good calories and low-fat dairy products, nuts, soy products and lean meat and fish.
Two Days Before You Dive:
- Water, water, water. Drink plenty. Stay away from alcohol or at least keep it in moderation (especially if you’re on vacation.)
- Extra calories from sports drinks and milk is helpful.
- Think about sticking to high carbohydrate foods. Don’t expect to add all the carbs in one sitting, instead eat evenly spaced meals.
- Start getting a good night’s sleep. It will make all the difference in the world.
The Day Before You Dive:
- DON’T overeat. In fact, eat a little less than you normally would – drop about 500 calories from your typical intake. Stick with broth-based soups, cereal, low-fat pudding, fruit and veggies, instant breakfast and sports drinks. Also, more water, water and water. Drink plenty.
- Eat a small breakfast.
- Eat at least 2 hours before you dive and keep portions small.
- Drink water up to one-half our before you dive to help counteract diuresis during your initial water immersion.
- Drink water between dives – stay away from alcohol
- Eat high-carb foods between dives (bananas, sports drinks, low-fat cookies…)
While you may want to enjoy the native food when visiting exotic dive locations, it might be safer to stick to foods that are familiar the days before your dive. It’s usually a bad idea to experiment with new foods and spices right before a dive since you don’t know how your stomach will react and diarrhea is not a diver’s best friend. Rather wait to experience them in your after dive party. Eat plenty of high-carb foods after your dive and every couple hours after. You may not dive any deeper or longer but eating healthy may make the difference in how you feel during and after your spectacular diving adventures.
Contact our staff at Seas The Day Scuba with any questions you may have on getting the most of your diving advanture. Our friendly staff is always happy to help. Enjoy your Dive!!