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. 2014;14 Suppl 1:S157-64.
doi: 10.1080/17461391.2012.664172. Epub 2012 Jul 10.

Fasting Improves Static Apnea Performance in Elite Divers Without Enhanced Risk of Syncope

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Fasting Improves Static Apnea Performance in Elite Divers Without Enhanced Risk of Syncope

Erika Schagatay et al. Eur J Sport Sci. .

Abstract

In competitive apnea divers, the nutritional demands may be essentially different from those of, for example, endurance athletes, where energy resources need to be maximised for successful performance. In competitive apnea, the goal is instead to limit metabolism, as the length of the sustainable apneic period will depend to a great extent on minimising oxygen consumption. Many but not all elite divers fast before performing static apnea in competition. This may increase oxygen consumption as mainly lipid stores are metabolised but could also have beneficial effects on apneic duration. Our aim was to determine the effect of over-night fasting on apnea performance. Six female and seven male divers performed a series of three apneas after eating and fasting, respectively. The series consisted of two 2-min apneas spaced by 3 min rest and, after 5 min rest, one maximal effort apnea. Apneas were performed at supine rest and preceded by normal respiration and maximal inspiration. Mean (± SD) time since eating was 13 h (± 2 h 43 min) for the fasting and 1 h 34 min (± 33 min) for the eating condition (P < 0.001). Mean blood glucose was 5.1 (± 0.4) mmol/L after fasting and 5.9 (± 0.7) mmol/L after eating (P<0.01). Lung volumes were similar in both conditions (NS). For the 2-min apneas, nadir SaO2 during fasting was 95 (± 1)% and 92 (± 2)% (P < 0.001) on eating and ETCO2 was lower in the fasting condition (P < 0.01) while heart rate (HR) during apnea was 74 (± 10) bpm for fasting and 80 (± 10) bpm for eating conditions (P < 0.01). Maximal apnea durations were 4 min 41 s (± 43 s) during fasting and 3 min 51 s (± 37 s) after eating (P < 0.001), and time without respiratory contractions was 31 s (25%) longer after fasting (P < 0.01). At maximal apnea termination, SaO2 and ETCO2 were similar in both conditions (NS) and apneic HR was 63 (± 9) bpm for fasting and 70 (± 10) bpm for eating (P < 0.01). The 22% longer apnea duration after fasting with analogous end apnea SaO2 levels suggests that fasting is beneficial for static apnea performance in elite divers, likely via metabolism-limiting mechanisms. The oxygen-conserving effect of the more pronounced diving response and possibly other metabolism-limiting mechanisms related to fasting apparently outweigh the enhanced oxygen consumption caused by lipid metabolism.

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