Proper nutrition is one of the most important parts of any sport and is often overlooked. The need for an athlete to properly provide their bodies with the right fuel to compete at the top of their game. This is particularly true of golfers, as the relaxed nature of the sport lends itself to a lax approach to its nutritional needs.
Golf and Nutrition – What Should Golfers Eat?
Golf is a physically and mentally draining sport, and as such proper nutrition is as important a part of the preparation for a round as it is in any competitive sport.
While playing a competitive round of golf, players can burn upwards of 2,000 calories during a four to five hour trip through the course, even more, if that new driver keeps slicing into the trees.
While it is a low-impact sport, there are brief moments of high-intensity activity during swings.
With just a bit of careful planning and some knowledge, you can give yourself a competitive edge by practicing proper nutrition.
Understanding how different nutrients can affect your performance, and your body is important, and you can then coordinate snacks and meals to reach your full potential while playing, while also helping to avoid injury and stave off fatigue.
Of course, you can’t just eat anything you want and expect to be at your top performance levels, especially on days you plan to compete, so careful planning can help you fuel up before, and then during and after the match or tournament.
It’s commonly known how proteins are recommended for building muscle, but it’s best to go light on proteins before and during your game.
Keeping sources of protein low can prevent fatigue from the consumption of too much fat, and while combined with carbohydrates are important after the round for recovery.
Carbohydrates are important throughout your game to help keep your energy levels up and avoid a crash with just a few holes left.
Your body uses carbohydrates to fuel your performance and should go along with complex carbs that digest slowly.
By doing this, you’ll avoid low blood sugar levels midway through your round.
Remember Nutrient Density
Always try to eat foods that are rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Processed junk foods are all calorie content with little substance, but raw vegetables and fruits along with a lean protein source can provide you with the fuel you need and avoid the added calories.
Supplements and Antioxidants
Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants are known to help promote excellent health, and help to keep your body protected from injury or damage, and can help to speed up recovery when an injury does occur.
By supplementing with vitamins that include omega fatty acids, you can help your overall health, while providing your body with a much-needed energy boost when you need it most.
Match Day – What to Eat
Most golfers don’t give a second thought to what they are eating prior to heading out to the course, as most are just concerned about getting out of bed and to the course on time.
Breakfast isn’t always on the priority list, but it should be.
Sometimes there’s a spare few minutes after loading up the bag on the cart and getting things ready for a quick bacon sandwich in the clubhouse or just tapping a stockpile of snacks that may include some fruit before heading to the first tee.
This isn’t the best pre-game routine for reaching your scoring potential, and what you eat pre-round will be getting you prepared for the four to five hours you have ahead of you out on the course.
Passing on this step can cause you to have to deal with the problem out on the course, and no matter how well you can recharge at the halfway house, you’ll likely have had some damage done before making the turn.
Night Before the Match
One of the best ways to gain an extra advantage over your playing partners is to eat a well-balanced meal the night before your match.
Most nutritionists recommend a lean protein meal that will help to keep hunger at a minimum between meals, with an entree of chicken or fish.
By adding some high-fiber carbs like spinach or sweet potatoes can add some vitamins and antioxidants to the count.
The night before there are certain foods to avoid. Avoid the starchy pasta dishes, as well as high-fat meals like steak that can make you sluggish in the morning.
Try and eat between 90-120 minutes prior to turning in for the night, and be sure to drink plenty of water.
Avoid too much alcohol the night before, as typically after a night of consumption will lead to a more restless night’s sleep resulting in a sluggish morning.
Snacks to Take on the Course
There are several go-to snacks that most golfers know they can turn to in order to keep their energy up after stepping off that first tee.
Nuts – Almonds, Cashews or Peanuts
Offering a quick source of protein, fats, and minerals, nuts can fill you up and help you to power through the round. Plus there are few things that are easier to toss into your bag.
Fresh Fruit – Bananas Grapes, Apples
These are among the best things you can eat during a round, as whole fruits are filled with dietary fiber and other important nutrients. Bananas, packed with potassium, are a PGA Tour favorite.
Prepackaged is the easiest, but it’s not tough to make your own and it’ll be healthier, without the preservatives and other additives.
Try tossing some dark chocolate chips, raisins and some mixed nuts into a bowl and mix them up. Fill a few small plastic bags and toss them in your golf bag and you’ll be set.
Jerky – Beef, Turkey or Chicken
An old favorite, jerky is packed with plenty of protein that gives you a boost of energy without leaving a heavy feeling in your stomach. Look for the all-natural brands that aren’t high in sodium and don’t have preservatives.
Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Loaded with healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, the old stand-by Peanut Butter sandwich is a great source of protein. By adding some whole grain bread to the mix and you’ll be looking for a long-lasting energy boost.
Another favorite of the tour pros, hard-boiled eggs are compact and easy to eat and another source of protein for lasting focus and energy.
While many of us don’t have the physical ability to rival the pros we see on the tour, we can be more professional with regard to our food choices. Take some time to reflect on how you can fuel yourself for that next round, and plan accordingly.