Are you worried about what you should eat before a big dive?
The last thing you want is to feel stuffed underwater. Our aim is to be comfortable and stay safe.
Avoid eating heavy meals and use this advice to ensure ultimate preparation before you scuba dive.
Table of Contents
Why Is It Important To Eat Properly Before a Scuba Dive?
If you’re a reasonably healthy and active person, you probably follow many of the golden rules of what you should and shouldn’t eat before diving. A diver’s diet is a balanced diet – but before we get into what the wrong foods are, here’s why eating food appropriately really matters before diving.
You'll need to maintain blood sugar
Low blood sugar can make you feel dizzy, nauseated, tired, weak, shaky, and generally, everything you do not want to feel when diving! That is why having a balanced meal that will keep your blood sugar levels balanced during your dive is essential.
You'll need to stay hydrated
Hydration is one of the most important things to focus on before and after diving. Being dehydrated can increase your chances of getting decompression sickness.
What’s more, being dehydrated automatically makes your blood thicker. The thicker the blood, the harder it is to pump oxygen through your body. This can increase your chances of getting muscle cramps as well as becoming dizzy and/or confused – none of which is ideal under the water!
You'll need to cut down on gas
Ideally, you want to avoid anything that might make you gassy during your dive. It’s important to remember that any gas you may produce from the front will go straight through your regulator, and anything from the rear will generally be uncomfortable. So, keep carbonation to a minimum!
Poor nutrition can make dives unsafe
Nutrition is just as important on dives as breathing properly! Poor nutrition can lead to bouts of dizziness, confusion, serious discomfort, and even sickness.
Any of the aforementioned conditions can make dives seriously unsafe. No one enjoys getting sick, but having these kinds of symptoms deep underwater can be extremely dangerous.
So, what foods should you eat and not eat before a dive?
What To Eat and Drink Before a Dive
Before getting on the dive boat (whether it’s your first dive or otherwise), here’s what you should be consuming.
Having a meal containing lean protein about two to three hours before a dive is very important. You can find good quality lean protein in foods such as plain Greek yoghurt, beans, peas, lentils, white meat poultry (such as chicken or turkey), cottage cheese, tofu, lean beef, pork loin, egg whites, etc.
Eating low-fibre foods before diving (or doing any kind of physical activity) can help reduce the risks of stomach aches, diarrhea, bloating, and other gastro discomfort.
Low-fibre foods ideal to eat include white bread, pasta, rice, canned vegetables, skinless potatoes, eggs, creamy peanut butter, and foods made with refined flour (such as pancakes, bagels, etc.).
As important as it is to remain hydrated before diving, don’t overdo it!
Ideally, you should drink a glass of water every 20 minutes or so before the dive instead of chugging a bottle down just before getting into the water!
Sticking to flat water and avoiding sparkling is also best, as the gas bubbles could cause discomfort during the dive. And, don’t wait to feel thirsty before you start drinking water!
If you are thirsty, then it could be that you are already dehydrated. Hydration is essential after six to nine hours of sleep, so make sure to drink water when waking up, especially before morning dives.
Food high in carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, and vegetables are all great before a dive. They will help to maintain your energy levels and keep you feeling full, awake, and steady throughout a dive.
Consuming healthy fats before a dive is a great way of giving you energy and protecting your muscles. Healthy fats can be found in lean meat, nuts, avocados, eggs, etc.
What to Avoid Eating Before Your Next Dive
It’s tempting to fill up on a big meal or a good breakfast before you start diving – but it’s probably best to leave fatty and spicy foods off your plate at all. Here’s why.
Avoid excess fat
As important as healthy fats are, it’s important not to overdo it. Too much excess fat can lead to many issues, such as high blood pressure, strokes, or cardiovascular disease. So, avoiding it in general life and before dives is best.
Avoid drinking alcohol
Drinking alcohol before a dive can be extremely dangerous as it can increase your risk of getting decompression sickness – and your diving computer won’t pick up on it.
Alcohol increases our blood flow, which in turn can cause an increase in nitrogen absorption and cause nitrogen narcosis. That is why it is best not to drink alcohol for at least eight hours before diving.
Avoid caffeinated foods
As strange as it might seem to avoid caffeine before doing something as physically demanding as scuba diving, it is for the best.
Caffeine can lead to an increase in urination and, therefore, can contribute to dehydration. It’s better to get good sleep and stick to water before taking a scuba dive.
The only time when caffeine may be recommended before scuba diving is in case you are going on a short dive in cold water. But even then, it’s best to ask your dive masters (if you have any) before consuming it.
Avoid fizzy and carbonated drinks
Fizzy and carbonated drinks can spike our blood sugar levels and make us quite gassy. Therefore, it’s best to leave them for after the dive, and stick to water before you go under!
Why Does Timing Matter When Eating Before a Dive?
Timing is crucial when it comes to eating before a dive. It’s all about how long it takes for our bodies to digest the foods we consume, how we use the benefits, and get rid of the negatives before diving.
It also helps in avoiding digestion slow down. That is why it is recommended to eat no heavy meals before a dive and to stick to nutritious, small meals about two to three hours before diving. Then, you can consume snacks for up to about thirty minutes before diving.