Nutrition for freedivers

Nutrition for freedivers: secrets of recovery

Freediving is a sport that requires an athlete not only to have honed skills and breath control, but also pay special attention to their nutrition. Properly selected nutrition can not only improve physical fitness and endurance, but also affect the level of comfort during the dive.

The importance of hydration

Water plays a primary role, as it is involved in all vital processes of the body, from thermoregulation to joint lubrication. For an athlete practicing diving, water balance is especially important, since dehydration can lead to impaired blood circulation and, as a result, reduced gas exchange efficiency. Detailed information on hydration for freedivers is set out in our previous article "Improving performance in freediving: the importance of hydration".

Proteins, fats and carbohydrates

To maintain optimal energy levels and muscle recovery after exercise, a freediver needs to pay attention to the balance of macronutrients in their diet.

Proteins

Proteins are the main building blocks for muscles. They are necessary for the recovery of fibers damaged during training and the growth of new ones. High-quality protein sources include lean meat, fish, cottage cheese, eggs and legumes.

Fats

Fats are the main source of energy for prolonged exertion. They are also involved in the formation of cell membranes and hormone production. Freedivers should prefer unsaturated fats found in olive and linseed oil, nuts, avocado and fatty fish.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the primary source of quick energy. Complex low glycemic index carbohydrates such as whole grain cereals, vegetables and fruits provide a gradual release of energy, which is necessary for long workouts.

Nutrition before and after dives

Before diving

2-3 hours before diving, it is recommended to have a light protein- and carbohydrate-rich meal, but low in fat, to avoid heaviness in the stomach. A good choice would be porridge with water and fruit or toast with avocado and egg. The last meal before diving should be at least an hour before starting the dive. This prevents the risk of heartburn, since during freediving, when the body is in an inverted position, the likelihood of reflux increases. Observing this time interval will help avoid discomfort and make the dive more comfortable and safe.

After diving

Recovery after freediving training is a key point in an athlete's preparation, as it allows effective replenishment of depleted energy resources and promotes muscle fiber recovery. It is especially important to take care of nutrition within the first hour after exiting the water, as during this so-called "recovery window" the body is most receptive to nutrients.

Consuming carbohydrates immediately after freediving training will help quickly restore muscle glycogen levels, which is critical for energy recovery. Proteins, in turn, are needed to repair and rebuild muscle fibers by providing the body with amino acids used to synthesize new muscle protein.

A smoothie can be an ideal option after surfacing, combining both carbohydrates and proteins. For example, a banana smoothie will provide fast-absorbing carbohydrates, berries will add antioxidants to combat oxidative stress, and protein powder or Greek yogurt will provide the necessary amount of protein. The addition of nuts or seeds such as chia or flax seeds can enhance the nutritional value of the smoothie by adding healthy fats and extra protein.

It is also important not to forget to replenish fluids lost during the dive. Water or electrolyte drinks will help restore water-salt balance. If the workout was particularly intense, you can also consume drinks with added glucose or sucrose to restore muscle glycogen levels even faster and accelerate the recovery process.

Thus, a balanced approach to nutrition after surfacing, including carbohydrates, proteins and plenty of fluids, will allow the freediver to maximize recovery and prepare for the next workout.

Foods to avoid

Before freediving, it is important to carefully choose foods, as some of them can contribute to increased mucus production. Freedivers suffering from sinus congestion and pressure equalization problems during diving may benefit from reducing their intake of certain foods to minimize mucus in the airways. To determine which foods affect you specifically, try eliminating one of the following food groups for a week and watch for changes in mucus production. To improve pressure equalization during freediving, you may need to stop eating these foods a week before practicing:

  • Dairy products, especially cow's milk and cheese
  • Acidic fruits and fruit juices such as oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Wheat products
  • Sugar

Conclusion

In conclusion, diet is a fundamental element in the preparation of every freediver. A balanced diet rich in water, carbohydrates, proteins and fats is necessary to maintain energy and promote rapid recovery after diving. Particular attention should be paid to the diet schedule – the timing and composition of meals before and after surfacing can significantly affect the comfort and performance of the athlete.

Individual characteristics of the body also play an important role; unsuitable foods can provoke allergic reactions, increased mucus production or digestive discomfort. Careful observation of the body's response to different types of nutrition and subsequent adjustment of the diet will help find the optimal diet that will contribute to achieving the best results in freediving.

The unrelenting pursuit of improving nutritional habits, taking into account all aspects of health and performance – this approach will lead not only to success in sports, but also to improving overall quality of life. It should be remembered that a reasonable choice in nutrition is an indispensable condition for those who strive for high athletic achievements.


19.12.2023

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