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Freediving Nutrition - Things to Eat and Avoid

Freediving Nutrition - Things to Eat and Avoid

Freediving Nutrition - Things to Eat and Avoid

Most of the time, when spearfishermen think about what they need to do off the water to get their body in shape for diving, they bring to mind apnea table, diaphragm stretches, and time at the pool. Some may even think about staying in shape, apnea walks, and cardio, but almost no one talks about one of the most important aspects of dive fitness: nutrition.



The most important thing you can do to ensure a good day of diving is proper hydration. Proper hydration requires drinking plenty of water for several days in advance of a dive trip. When you are dehydrated it becomes hard to equalize. When that happens it becomes difficult or impossible to dive without injury. Drink plenty of water whenever you are on the boat to try and stay ahead of dehydration. 

In that same line, you should avoid caffeine the morning of a dive trip. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks are dietetics, meaning they dehydrate you. If you can’t function without caffeine you can still drink it. You just might want to cut back from your normal consumption. Diving with a headache from caffeine withdrawal can almost be as bad as being dehydrated.


Everyday Adjustments

First, a few changes to your daily diet that can help improve your diving:

  • Dairy, gluten, and sugar should all be taken in moderation because they contribute to mucous production which hinders equalization and can even build up in your lungs to hurt your breath holds. It’s obviously very difficult to avoid these entirely, but if you’re planning a big trip you might want to consider it in the weeks before. Dairy does not cause your body to increase mucus production. It has been linked to making existing mucus thicker, which is problematic while freediving. It's a good idea to cut out dairy a few days before a big dive trip. The broad categories of problematic foods include dairy, refined sugar, carbohydrates, red meat, alcohol, and fried foods.
  • Fatty and greasy foods should also be avoided, for the same reasons that you would avoid them when working out for any other sport. Not all fats are bad though; healthy fats like those that come from avocados or olive oil actually support your heart and blood vessel health for freediving.
  • If you have allergies to your environment, consuming local honey regularly helps clear your airways for successful diving in the spring.
  • Antioxidant rich foods like fruits (especially berries), vegetables, and herbal teas help combat oxidative stress, which leads to fatigue while diving. Antioxidants also support overall brain health and contribute to greater mental clarity while diving.
  • Oranges are also high in potassium and make for a great snack on the boat. Potassium and proper hydration prevent cramping up during a long day of diving.

If you’re planning for a big trip, you want to start nutrition and exercise changes months in advance in order to give your body time to reap the benefits of said change.

A sample meal split for a 225 pound man prepping for an international spearfishing trip is shown below. The amount of food should be adjusted depending on weight, and it should be kept in mind that this split includes daily workouts. The split goes as follows:

Meal 1 - Breakfast: six hard boiled eggs, half an avocado, six ounces of blueberries, six ounces of blackberries, six ounces of raspberries; along with six ounces of chicken or fish

Meal 2: 50 gram protein shake

Meal 3 - Lunch: 8 ounces of lean meat (turkey, chicken, or fish), another half of avocado, and a piece of fruit OR half of a sweet potato

Meal 4: 50 gram protein shake

Meal 5 - Dinner: 10-12 ounces of red meat, a vegetable (sautéed spinach, steamed broccoli, asparagus, etc). Dinner should be low in carbohydrates because you’re not working out after

Meal 6: 30 gram protein shake (or protein ice cream)


On the day/night before diving

There are many things to keep in mind about nutrition in the 24 hours leading up to a dive. While this routine may seem annoying (beetroot juice especially tastes terrible), it will all feel worth it when you sit down for dinner the night after a successful spearfishing trip to an array of delicious, fresh-shot fish.

  • First, try not to drink caffeine. It artificially raises your heart rate in a way that you can’t bring down through breathe-ups. This will severely damage your dive times by causing your body to use up more oxygen and by preventing you from getting into the mammalian dive reflex. That means you need to make sure to get adequate sleep the night before so that you don’t have to rely on caffeine to stay awake.
  • No alcohol. You don’t want to dive drunk or hung over!
  • Try to eat a light dinner the night before, and a light breakfast the morning of. Eating too heartily will cause your stomach to push up on your diaphragm, making a full inhale more difficult, but will also use up valuable energy and bodily resources on digestion. Make sure you’re eating a balanced meal packed with protein and carbs to carry you through the day (a slice of avocado toast and an egg for example).
  • Beetroot juice is an incredible way to supplement freediving nutrition to boost your overall freediving performance. Beets carry a lot of nitrates, which help increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles by widening your blood vessels and reducing lactic acid buildup. One study even found beet juice consumption to show an 11% increase in dry apnea times compared to a placebo juice. Some companies even sell concentrated beet powders that you can bring on the boat and put in a regular water bottle.


We hope this article helped you organize your diet for freediving, and if you have any questions for the shop feel free to call us at +1-813-867-3250!

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