Are you taking golf lessons? Or are you a competitive golfer in training? In either case it’s vital that you focus on your nutrition, not only to perform at your best but for your overall well-being.
In order to maximize the hours of hard work you dedicate to developing your physical and mental agility and fitness, it’s necessary to eat right. With the right diet, golfers not only maintain a desirable body weight and improve their overall health but can also employ optimum reflexes to maximize their game.
To ensure you maintain the same level of play for every round, here are some of the foods you should be consuming.
Proper Nutrition for Enhanced Performance on the Golf Course
Here are some things golfers can include in their diet to improve their fitness and enhance their performance.
Playing golf burns calories. Protein in your pre-game meal rebuilds muscle tissue and helps your body burn energy from fat and glycogen stores when it runs out from the meal you’ve consumed. It’s also a good idea to eat protein after the game to replenish the muscles that were used most and reduce muscle soreness.
The primary sources of food protein are meats, vegetables and dairy, with animal sources such as poultry and fish offering the leanest variety. Since red meat is generally higher in both calories and fats, it’s best to opt for leaner proteins in smaller portions. Dairy products including yogurt, cheese and milk also contain a fair amount of protein. Easily accessible options include whole grains, nuts and beans.
The average game of golf can take up to two hours during which you can expend up to 2,500 calories. That’s why you should add carbohydrates to your pre-game meal. Avoiding the right carbs can result in you tiring faster. Be sure to eat three to four hours beforehand to give your body enough time to break down the food and absorb energy. Brown rice, oatmeal, fruits, vegetables and sweet potatoes are a great source of healthy carbohydrates.
Similar to carbs and proteins, fats provide energy to muscles but have five times more calories. That said, consuming foods with healthier unsaturated fats can postpone hunger signals that can distract you from your game. Remember, almost all foods contain some amount of fat so it’s advisable to choose wisely. Peanuts and olive oil, avocados and cold-water fish are good sources of healthy fats.
Essential fats such as the omega-3s found in grass-fed beef, cold-water fatty fish, nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds and eggs are necessary nutrients for a golfer’s body. They help improve your immune and nervous systems, endocrine glands, heart, skin, brain function and energy levels. Certain omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oils and fish include eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids (EPA/DHA). Some of the best sources of both EPA and DHA are oily and cold-water fish, including sardines, salmon, anchovies, herring and mackerel. Other sources of super fats include olives and coconuts.
It’s easy to get dehydrated if you’ve been playing a long round, but drinking fluids can prevent muscle spasms and headaches and keep you energized. Water also helps properly break down food.
It’s best to drink a little over 100 ounces of water every day to stay well-hydrated and flush out toxins. Remember, athletes, including golfers, lose water through breathing and sweating as their heart rate increases during exercise. So, it’s vital that you consider your fluid intake both on and off the course.
Additional Tips (for Meal Prep)
To ensure you’re getting the nutrition you need, prepare balanced meals that include all four nutritional groups mentioned already.
For instance, you can include whole grain oats, blueberries and a few nuts in your breakfast. Consume a glass full of water after breakfast. For lunch, golfers could opt for turkey on a slice of whole-wheat toast accompanied by an apple and a mixed green salad, while dinner could comprise grilled chicken with steamed broccoli and a baked sweet potato.
Remember, it’s also important to snack between meals to replenish the energy you use throughout the day. Choose from plain Greek yogurt with fruit added, vegetable sticks, low-fat string cheese or different kinds of fruits. Avoid caffeine, carbonated drinks and foods high in sugar.
Following all these tips isn’t easy but will provide the nutrients necessary to keep you energized through an entire round of golf. That said, do your best based on your lifestyle and nutrient requirements and keep portion sizes for both meals and snacks in check. Most importantly, include a variety of fish, meats, fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates into your diet and drink plenty of water to enhance your performance on the links.