For many avid golfers, the game is not always just about the game. With golf comes friends, socializing, business, and, yes, food and drink. However, golf grub is not always consumed for sustenance but rather for convenience, indulgence, and comfort on the course. Many professional golfers view food in a different way: as fuel and nutrition. When elite golfers make the connection between food and their performance, they gain an undeniable edge.
When you stumble on the course to play 18 holes without even giving your diet a thought, the result may be low energy, disrupted hormones, a slow metabolism and of course, your ball landing in a lake.
Here are the basics to help you feel your very best when you tee off.
You may be avoiding carbs like the plague to lose weight but limiting carbs also limits your game. Carbs give us energy and without enough carbs on board, the body starts to burn muscle for energy. This will make you weaker, not stronger as a golfer. However, eating the right carbs is the key to a hole-in-one.
- Start your morning with 100% whole or sprouted grains before you tee off. Fill your bowl with a high fiber, high protein cereal or sprouted grain oatmeal with fresh berries to boost your energy.
- Grab a mid-morning snack between holes such a protein or energy bar filled with healthy carbs coming from nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies.
- Ditch the Gatorade and fruit juice as your carb-filled hydration source. Try switching to water or fruit-infused water without artificial colors, dyes, and sweeteners.
Protein is the nutrient in charge of building and maintaining svelte muscles. Strenuous workouts and long days on the driving range can cause body protein levels to drop. Eating frequent, high-quality protein meals keeps your body in a constant muscle-building state. Eating a diet higher in protein and lower in refined carbs helps you to develop gorgeous musculature, become stronger and stave off sugar cravings to boot!
- Maximizing your protein game includes eating both plants and animals (unless you are a vegan, of course). Always ordering chicken or turkey on your salad at lunch? Swap out your meat for tofu, tempeh, or nuts.
- Eggs are a protein rich source at breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. Most clubhouses will have eggs available for you to build your own omelet any time of the day. Ask for chicken, turkey or veggie sausage on the side rather than bacon or hash browns.
Remember the fat free craze? Eating fat free, high sugar foods is no longer the school of thought in the nutrition world. A diet aimed at high level golf performance includes heart- and brain-healthy fats. Fats, like protein, also help us to feel satisfied and full for 18 holes of strenuous golf.
- Healthy fats fuel healthy athletes. Whether eating at the clubhouse or home, skip the French fries, pastries, and hotdogs. These foods tank your game rather than lift you up.
- After an evening round, refuel your body and brain with a nourishing dinner. Fill your dinner plate with healthy fats including almond encrusted wild salmon, kale sautéed in olive oil, and sliced avocado.
Vitamins & Minerals
Eating like the pros requires more than just protein, carbs, and fats. Key vitamins and minerals unlock the power of your food and keep you on the course rather than in bed with a cold. Giving your body the nutrition it craves through nourishing food also benefits you by making gains in your game.
- Strong bones make strong golfers. Break out the blender within your 45-minute recovery window post round. Build a bone boosting smoothie with calcium-rich ingredients such as organic milk/non-dairy beverages, dark leafy greens, Icelandic/Greek/non-dairy yogurt, almond butter, and grass-fed whey-based protein powder.
- Eat the rainbow when it comes to fruits and veggies. Optimal performance means eating produce of all different colors to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Take a close look at your plate and see what colors are missing. Aim to get green, yellow, red, purple, and blue fruits and veggies on a regular basis.
Embarking on your nutrition journey in the mindset of a professional golfer takes patience, time, hard work, and determination. Start with slow yet sustainable changes and track your progress. Keeping a daily food journal helps you to outline your healthy choices as well as tie your diet to your performance on the course. Once you begin to see how your diet impacts your game, you will be well on your way to becoming a course champion.