Can Scuba Diving Really Help with Weight Loss?

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Over half the people surveyed in the 2019 Food & Health Survey by the International Food Information Council Foundation cited weight loss as their reason for adopting a specific diet. In fact, weight loss continues to be a primary drive in many people’s diet and exercise patterns. No matter what stage of your life you’re at, the good news for divers is that scuba diving can help you achieve your weight loss goals if this is a priority for you. Here’s how it can help. 

Scuba Diving Is Associated With A High Calorie Burn 

You use, on average, between 400 and 700 calories an hour while you’re scuba diving, although this figure is variable because factors like water temperature and currents can affect your calorie burn. For comparison, jogging burns between 400 and 500 calories an hour. It would be easy to think you hadn’t burnt many calories after a dive when you’re not breathless or breaking a sweat, but the reason for this is down to the weightlessness of the environment and the fact that water takes heat away from the body 20 times faster than air. Even in tropical climates, the water is much cooler than your body temperature, and this speeds up your metabolism in order to generate heat. It is this process of heat generation that causes the extra calorie burn, even though you may feel that you haven’t done much exercise.

Additionally, your equipment increases the drag on your body while you’re diving, increasing your energy expenditure. The journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise published a study that showed that a single scuba tank can increase a diver’s energy consumption by 25% compared to swimming on the surface at the same speed. Wearing a drysuit can result in an additional 25% increase. 

Diving Will Help, But It’s Not The Whole Picture 

Your calorie burn when diving is a nice bonus if you want to lose weight, but it’s important to recognize that diving alone will not allow you to meet your goals. Lifestyle factors such as regular exercise, diet and sleep are equally important — and these are also important for your health and fitness while diving. The amount of calories you burn while your sleeping is affected by a number of factors, including your nutritional habits, your body temperature and your level of sleep deprivation; however, maintaining a regular sleep schedule and getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night will mean you’re burning calories at night too, as well as repairing your muscles so they can perform at their peak when you exercise.

If you’re diving regularly, you may find that you don’t need to cut calories to lose weight, but your diet is extremely important, and it will also help to fuel your dives. Opt for a whole foods diet incorporating a diverse range of foods across all food groups. The Meditterranen diet does this well, and is often recommended for weight loss. Support both your diet and your diving with regular exercise throughout the week, being sure to incorporate both cardio and strength training if you want to lose weight.

Scuba diving burns a surprising amount of calories, particularly if you’re very active when you’re underwater. However, if you want to lose weight, you should also prioritize exercise and sleep, and ensure that you’re eating a healthy, whole foods diet, which will also help you perform at your best under water.

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