If I drink ginger tea will I be able to hold my breath longer? What about if I eat blue berries and drown myself in antioxidants? Bananas are good food for diving right? I get asked these kinds of questions all the time- as if there were some sort of miracle food for freediving.
But I really don’t believe in a definitive diet for life or freediving that applies to everyone. Everyone’s make up is so different that we will all thrive from different foods. I have no qualifications as a dietitian or as a food scientist but I will run you through my diet and eating schedule when I’m in the thick of training and the foods that work for me.
I start with a breakfast of oats every morning roughly 3 hours before my deep dive. I like to put cinnamon and turmeric on my oats because as friend and freediving instructor Joe Knight told me, spices act as digestive enzymes in your body and help you digest food faster, which is great because you always want to dive on an empty stomach.
Immediately after my dive I have a high carbohydrate protein shake. This is something I started doing to avoid weight loss when training. Most divers will lose a lot of muscle mass over the course of a training period. From not eating enough, from lactic acid build up and the amount of energy that deep diving actually demands from your body. Over the course of 3 months diving I have lost up to 8 kilos. The protein shake stops that.
I try to eat as soon as I can after my dive; a meal with good carbohydrates and protein. Usually something like sweet potato, eggs and steamed mixed vegetables. Rice is also good and really any kind of meat. I do eat a lot more meat when I’m training in order to maintain good Iron levels.
Throughout the afternoon I’ll snack on fruit and I find that the fast digesting sugars help me maintain a high energy level throughout the day. Timing meals correctly is something I learnt from a training buddy of mine, Dean Chaouche and it is one of the most important factors in my eating regime. If I time my meals right throughout the day I find that I am never low in energy and never lethargic. Freediving is such a mental sport that an afternoon where I feel lazy or unmotivated can really play in my mind and effect my dive the following day so for me it’s really important to always feel strong and energetic.
For dinner I like to eat something similar to lunch. I make sure that I eat plenty of different coloured vegetables so that I get plenty of minerals, good carbohydrates for energy and protein and amino acids for muscle recovery. My favourite carbohydrates are sweet potato, beetroot and pumpkin and my favourite proteins are fish and eggs.
This is the eating regime that works best for me and the foods that work best for me. The only thing you can do is try a whole bunch of different foods and eating regimes and see what works best for you.