Have you ever wondered why pro golfers are seen snacking and drinking so much during tournaments? It may seem counter-intuitive, but it could be part of a health and fitness diet regime designed to keep their playing energy at a high level.
As much as golf might seem like a slow-paced game compared to high-intensity sports like soccer and basketball, golfers spend extended periods on the course, with one round of golf lasting up to five hours. Golfers have to walk around the course covering around 20 kilometers on foot during a round, and also have to swinging a golf club which engages different muscle groups.
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So it’s easy to see why golfers need constant energy replenishments before, throughout the game, and even during recovery. Golf games also tend to be played mostly during summer when the sun is hottest, which can cause severe dehydration. Considering the high levels of concentration needed to take a perfect shot, a golfer should always have some drinks and food on standby to maintain regular blood sugar, energy, and hydration levels. The trick is to select the right diet.
The Recommended Diet for Golfers
Golfers have different dietary needs based on training load, gender, health, age, specific athlete needs, body composition goals, etc. Pro golfers even work with Accredited Sports Dietitians to establish a customized diet routine suited for the golfer.
Nonetheless, all players tend to have the exact dietary needs: quality carbohydrates for fuel, lean proteins for recovery and muscle repair, whole grains, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and nuts for essential minerals and vitamins. Golfers also need healthy fats and fluids to stay hydrated and focused.
Before the Game
A golfer needs a proper pre-competition meal to supply the fuel needed to last the body throughout the round without succumbing to fatigue, hunger, or dehydration. Ideally, one should consume a pre-event meal about 3-4 hours before the tee-off time of the round to allow time for digestion.
The pre-event meal should focus on carbohydrates to provide energy and some splash of proteins and healthy fats to help keep hunger at bay. Naturally, the meal should also have enough fluids for hydration.
Meal ideas include:
- Sweet potato salad with some tuna
- Grainy wrap topped with cheese, salad, and chicken
- Baked beans on toast
- Natural yogurt with fruit saladB
- Bircher muesli with fresh fruit
About one to two hours before the game, the golfer can top up with an additional snack that is ultra-rich in carbohydrates but low in fiber and fat for quick digestion. Ideas include avocado on rice cakes, banana and almonds, and an English muffin with vegemite and cheese.
During the Game
What you eat during a round of golf depends on which hole you’re in, and we can split dietary needs into three phases.
- Any nutrition during the first six holes should focus on stabilizing energy levels, so low-carbohydrate foods are perfect. You can try fruits like berries, oranges, pears, and apples accompanied by nuts which digest slowly and maintain energy levels.
- The game has already begun to get heated for the middle six holes, and you need foods or snacks providing a perfect balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Homemade protein balls or bars can be perfect, and you can also try a protein shake with bananas or a whole-grain sandwich with chicken, tuna, or peanut butter.
- The final six holes are crucial because they determine whether you’ll lift the trophy or not. Nutritional needs here need to focus on providing you with a dose of energy for the perfect finish and total last-minute concentration. You can try low-sugar sports drinks or higher-carbohydrate snacks like dried fruit that offer instant energy to the brain and muscles. Some golfers also prefer caffeinated drinks like tea or black coffee that enhance concentration.
After an intensive round of golf, your body requires proper recovery nutrition composed of protein for muscle development and repair, carbohydrates for fuel, and lots of electrolytes and fluids to replenish sweat losses. Ideas include:
• A fruit-based smoothie.
• Lean whole-grain beef burger with salad.
• Homemade burritos with salad and chicken.
• An egg or ham with salad sandwich.
To satisfy their fluid requirements, golfers mostly drink water, sports drinks, and vitamin or protein shakes. Water is essential in every golfer’s bag because a sip every hole or two helps to maintain your hydration levels. Sports drinks like Powerade and Gatorade supply golfers with electrolytes, with most having sodium to replace salts lost through sweat. On the other hand, vitamin drinks or protein shakes provide golfers with specific minerals, proteins, and vitamins to help them perform well.
Becoming a skilled golfer also requires establishing a suitable diet routine and knowing what brings out the swing master in you. Partnering with an Accredited Sports Dietitian to create a customized diet routine that matches your body composition and athletic needs is essential. Learning culinary skills is also a plus for any golfer because you can always carry some special homemade energy foods and power fluids in your bag.
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