October 15th 2020 Issue
How to Fuel Up for your Next Round
There are so many nuances to the game of golf and so much to consider when trying to perfect your game. For many golfers, nutrition tends to rank low on the list of concerns. But as more and more golfers turn to a more holistic approach to lowering their scores, proper nutrition is another aspect worth a closer look.
Why nutrition matters
Golf rounds last an average of 227 minutes with players walking miles around 18 holes. In that time, the weather conditions can change quickly from hot to cold to windy to rainy. It is essential to keep your body well fueled during your round as well as in the days leading up to your round.
Golfers need a diet full of nutrient dense food including superfoods high in antioxidants and superfats aimed at keeping your blood sugar steady. Processed foods, sweets and alcohol – common in snack carts and clubhouses – can interrupt sleep patterns, impair muscle recovery and make you feel more sluggish around the course.
Why hydration matters
It’s not just nutrient rich, whole foods that help your attention, focus and concentration, but proper hydration is also essential to improving your game. A study published in the National Library of Medicine found golfers hit 12% shorter and 93% less accurately when mildly dehydrated. Maintaining adequate hydration throughout your round could be the key to saving a couple of shots around the fairways.
What should you eat to play like a pro?
For optimum results, you should include healthy foods in your daily diet, even when you don’t have an upcoming round. The most beneficial diet include a wide variety of foods from each of the food groups, with a focus on those that pack the biggest nutritional punch.
Before your round
Fish: Fish is a great way to add lean protein and healthy fats like omega 3s. Salmon, white fishes like haddock and cod, and shellfish like scallops and shrimp are excellent choices. As they say, there are plenty of fish in the sea, so try some others too.
Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds are another great way to add more plant-based proteins and fats. Sprinkle chia and flax seeds on cereal and yogurt, or combine into a trail mix with other nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans and cashews.
Fruits and vegetables: Like fish, you can’t really go wrong with an extra serving of fruits and vegetables but look for ones that are high in antioxidants and low in sugar. Carrots, broccoli, spinach and sweet potatoes are all great veggie choices. Bananas, berries, acai and oranges are all high in essential vitamins and antioxidants without too much sugar.
Lean meats and eggs: Chicken, pork and eggs will all help to fuel the body for long lasting energy. These can easily be incorporated into any meal but keep in mind, one or two servings a day is plenty.
Grains and bread: The key to carbohydrates is to keep the intake of these minimal and choose ones that are low on the glycemic index. These carbs will offer a “slow release” of sugar so you maintain sustained energy. Choose whole grain breads, quinoa, and brown us for maximum benefit.
During your round:
Although sodas, energy drinks, chips and candy bars are common fare in snack carts, resist the urge to indulge! Instead, opt for some of these easy to prepare, portable and healthy snacks. Remember the key to sustained focus, energy and concentration is to choose foods a variety of whole foods that provide some protein, some carbohydrates and some fats.
Instead of the processed food found on most courses, choose:
- A bag of nuts instead of chips
- A smoothie instead of a burger
- Hard boiled eggs instead of candies like M&Ms
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich instead of deli meats
- Popcorn instead of chips
- Beef jerky (watch sodium and check ingredient list)
- Trail mix (watch for added sugars)
- Granola (watch for added sugars)
- Fruit that travels well (like apples, bananas, and orange slices)
- Dried fruit
- Veggie chips
Before you grab a soda or energy drink, remember water is nature’s perfect drink. Water provides adequate hydration without causing large spikes in blood sugar levels. Drink it early and often through your round, especially if heat is a factor. Be careful of extra sugars in flavored waters and opt instead for coconut water.
As with any new training regime, it might take some time to overhaul your diet. Start with small changes and see how your body reacts and feels during your next round. If you have any medical concerns or allergies, consult your doctor about how to make changes, mindful of your unique circumstances. You may find it helpful to keep a journal of what you’ve eaten and how it made you feel to decide what is working and isn’t working.
Golf is challenging enough in its own right. A foundation of proper nutrition is an easy way to give yourself the best advantage and another step towards achieving your goals.
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bob_park/16953088960
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