Carbohydrates and fibers are two food components that are high in energy that skin divers should eat to build up their strength and stamina. Carbohydrate foods also contain vitamins and minerals that are good for the body while fiber-rich foods induce digestion.

Complex Carbohydrates

WHY YOU NEED COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES: Complex carbohydrates are made from simple sugars linked together. They store much energy and are a major source for activity. Carbohydrates are broken down to simple sugars for energy. Complex carbohydrates are far better for you than just eating sugar. Their slow release form, combined with the usually high fiber content, keeps blood sugar more even than simple sugars. Complex carbohydrate foods usually also have good amounts of many vitamins, iron, calcium and other minerals.

Complex carbohydrates used to be called starches. They are often mistakenly avoided as fattening. However, starches are well established as the basis of healthy eating and fuel for exercise. People often find that when they substitute more complex carbohydrates for fat they lose fat-weight while eating as much or more in total quantity. Low dietary carbohydrate intake, on the other hand, has been shown to promote muscle tissue loss, since protein is next in line as fuel, not fat, when carbohydrates are low.

WHERE TO GET COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES: Think vegetables – your mother may have mentioned them. Complex carbohydrates are found only in plants. Eat more baked potatoes, corn, grains, rice, beans, broccoli, bread, fruit, grain cereals, bananas, salads, bagels and pasta. Air popped popcorn and hard pretzels are good complex carbohydrate snacks.

Meat has, for all practical purposes, no carbohydrate. This is true even though the muscle and liver of animals, including humans, stocks a carbohydrate called glycogen that you use in short bouts of exercise. The carbohydrate cache is so small that your muscle, and the muscle you eat if you are a meat eater, is partly protein plus a good deal of fat, even in the leanest cuts, but no carbohydrate that makes any difference nutritionally. That meat has no carbohydrate means it also has no fiber, since fiber is the most complex of complex carbohydrates.

DON’T OVERDO: Your body uses the carbohydrate you eat for immediate energy and, depending on how much you exercise, stores varying amounts as glycogen in your muscles and liver, to supply energy for later activity. It’s unusual to overdo eating complex carbohydrates. The grains, vegetables and fruit supplying them are usually so low in calories you would have to eat large volumes to get too many calories. If you do, the extra complex carbohydrate calories will usually be stored as fat.

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends 6 to 11 servings of grains every day. However, according to USDA nutritionist and registered dietitian, Jackie Haven, the average American eats only three to four servings daily. Most of the calories you eat every day should come from complex carbohydrates. Make complex carbohydrates 60 to 70 percent of your diet.


Imagine eating all you want of a substance and never getting fat. You could if you didn’t digest it. Since fiber, a very complex carbohydrate, isn’t broken down to sugar by human digestion, you gain no calories from it. Cows and horses can digest the fiber called cellulose from grasses and hay. If we could digest cellulose to get to the glucose the way cows and horses can, then fiber would be as fattening to us as cake.

Healthy eating for divers carbohydrates and fiber

WHY YOU NEED FIBER: Fiber has several health benefits. It is made of long chains of carbohydrate that your digestive process can’t break, so fiber is indigestible. Because fiber remains throughout your digestive tract, it stimulates intestinal peristalsis, a wavelike squeezing action that keeps things moving. Slow passage from too little of this stimulation is linked to two main problems. One is colon cancer, possibly owing to poisonous breakdown substances in food having too much chance to stay in and interact with intestinal walls. Another disease of too little fiber is diverticulitis, an inflammation of the large intestine causing pain and what medical books call fecal stagnation. It’s rare for vegetarians and others who eat lots of fiber to get diverticulitis. Fiber and other complex carbohydrates found with fibrous foods also keep blood sugar steadier than simple sugars such as candy.

WHERE TO GET FIBER: Fiber used to be called roughage and bulk. Fiber is found only in plants, never in meat, poultry, fish or dairy products. It is also not present in simple sugars such as candy. Get water soluble fiber in foods like oats, fruit, barley and beans. Get insoluble fiber from vegetables and wheat products.

DON’T OVERDO: If you are not used to eating much fiber, increase by small amounts to avoid upsetting your gastrointestinal system.

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? The National Cancer Institute recommends 25 grams of fiber daily. However, according to Sheah Rarback, speaker for the American Dietetic Association, most Americans eat only 10 grams.

Make Healthy Eating Easy And Normal

Why call low fat, vegetable based meals drastic while cardiac bypass surgery, stroke and colon cancer are considered normal? Most offerings at fast food places, restaurants and snack machines are high fat and low complex carbohydrate. Because it is so common and hard to avoid, poor eating has become a national habit. Good eating can also become a habit with a new awareness of what’s out there and a few simple adjustments. Next month – divers who eat backward, diving nutrition myths, a little about cholesterol and vitamins, simple changes for healthy eating and what and when to eat for diving health.

Exercise Of The Month: Hamstring Stretch

Remember: No exercise is right for every diver. As with any new exercise, see your physician first.

Hamstrings are the triple set of muscles in the back of your thigh. They work to both bend your knee and also swing your leg in back of you. Tight hamstrings are thought to pull the pelvis slightly into a backward tilt, which may contribute to back pain. Hamstrings may suffer a pull if you need to move in a range of motion that exceeds their limit of flexibility. Strains may occur to tight hamstrings when stepping across a wide gap onto a dive boat, hauling yourself up a wide rung boat ladder or during a slip or fall.

Leaning over at the waist for toe touches stretches the back and hamstrings but is not the best stretch for regular use. Although it often feels good on tight muscles, it’s tough on your back in the long run. A safer hamstring stretch has two parts. First, lie on your back. Bend one leg so your foot rests on the floor. Bend the other leg and bring the knee to your chest. For the second part of this stretch, allow your knee to come away from your chest and slowly, gently, straighten your leg. If you can’t reach your leg while it’s straight, hold onto your pants leg or hold both ends of a towel you have looped around your foot. Before stretching, warm up first with ten minutes or so of walking, jogging or through a hot bath or shower.

Simple Tips For Healthy Eating

* Eat more complex carbohydrates, such as baked potatoes, corn, grains, rice, beans, broccoli, bread, fruit, grain cereals, bananas, salads, bagels and pasta.

* Eat less greasy, fatty, fried, glazed and oily food.

* Drink more water.

* Substitute vegetable for animal protein whenever you can, such as lentils for meat in spaghetti sauce.

* Meats, even lean cuts, are usually above the American Heart Association’s recommended fat maximum. Big offenders are bacon, which averages 80 to 90 percent fat, bologna sausage at 83 percent, hot dogs at 79, lamb chops 74, pork chops 72 (even before you fry them), ground beef 62, fried chicken wings 45, fried breaded fish sticks 45, fried chicken breast 30 – you get the picture. Cutting back on these will reduce your daily fat intake.

* Switch complex carbohydrate snacks for fat snacks. Eat pretzels, popcorn, bagels and fruit instead of candy bars, pastry or ice cream.

* Cut back on burgers to reduce excess protein as a contributor to dehydration.

* If you won’t be happy without desserts, gravies, oils or dressings, then cut down, not out. Find substitutes you like. Don’t go hungry.

* Pack bagels, favorite fruit, hard pretzels and raisins for snacks so you won’t have to buy unhealthy fast food.

* Find healthy foods you love. Don’t be miserable with your new plan to eat right. Find a way that makes your tummy happy along with your conscience.


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