By Joanne Turner.
Accredited Dietitian, Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Advanced Sports Dietitian.
Many know golf as a game of skill, however, nutrition can play an important role in keeping the mind and body in its optimal state. Generally Speaking a healthy diet can improve energy levels and assist with weight management. It’s important to meet your energy needs with the right amount of carbohydrates, lean proteins, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Meet these goals by choosing a balanced portion from each food group; fruits and vegetables, grains and cereals, low fat dairy, lean meat, fish, poultry and/or vegetarian alternatives.
Some carbohydrates digest slower than others which helps sustain energy levels for longer. Selecting low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates choices such as multigrain bread, porridge, lentils and most fruits may be a better option to prevent fatigue during a round of golf. It’s Individual, no two bodies are the same. Individual nutrition requirements vary depending on medical and physical needs. For example; body composition goals, health status of older players and growth of younger athletes.
In a recent study published in the Multi-Disciplinary Scientific Journal, dehydration showed reduced 7-iron distance, lower putting accuracy and greater perceived effort. Another study published in Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed mild dehydration significantly impaired motor performance, expressed as shot distance (114.6 vs. 128.6 m) and off-target accuracy (7.9m vs. 4.1 m) as well as impairing cognitive performance, expressed as the mean error in distance judgment to target increased. That shows a 12% further distance in your drive just by being better hydrated!
It varies greatly, depending on the temperature and humidity of the day, your size, gender and fitness levels. When I worked for Golf Australia, I tested many amateur golfers and on a hot 38-degree Australian Summer’s day. Healthy weight teenagers lost up to 300ml per hole, meaning some golfers may need over 5 litres of fluid to stay accurately hydrated playing 18 holes on a hot day (in competition carrying their own bag). Ideally, weigh yourself before and after a game and if you have lost weight, this means you have lost that amount of fluid. If you lost 2% of your original, you are classified as dehydrated. The problem is many golfers start the game in a dehydrated state. If a 70kg woman loses 1.4kg over a game – they are technically dehydrated. Have you ever noticed your weight fluctuates a lot day to day? This is simply fluid levels going up and down, real weight loss is losing body fat tissue.
A simple way to check if you are hydrated is to assess the color of your urine. Generally, pale yellow is a good indication that you are well-hydrated, and darker than the color of apple juice may indicate dehydration. Note: multi vitamins may affect this test.
It should be at the right temperature; hot fluids are great on cold early mornings and cold fluids are better on hot days.
To not only enjoy more but to aid with body temperature control. Ultimately improving your golf performance. Golfers need to replace water, salts lost and carbohydrates. If the food you’re consuming on the course has plenty of carbs and salt, then your fluids may likely be water only. However, if you want your liquids to provide both fuel and electrolytes, then a sports drink will come in handy. Tip: have a sports dietitian conduct a sweat analysis to discover how much salt you lose in your sweat. Many professional golfers do this to match their electrolytes intake with their output.
Some golfers may benefit from small amounts of caffeine because it can increase mental concentration. Too much will leave you with the
jitters and may cause dehydration. Monitor your response to adjust your dose.
It’s important to eat before golf, regardless of how early your tee-off time. Golfers need to develop a good nutrition plan so it can be
easily adapted to suit different start times. Your pregame meal should be a well-balanced meal of low GI carbohydrates, lean protein,
vitamin rich fruit or vegetables and fluid for hydration.
Keeping your blood glucose levels steady is especially important in a game of golf that combines physical exertion with the need for high mental acuity. Having healthy snacks every 4 holes is especially important if you’re missing a main meal such as lunch whilst playing. Go for a mix of healthy carbohydrate snacks containing small amounts of healthy fats and protein, as well as electrolytes and fluids.
Many amateur golfers finish the round with alcohol and a heavy meal. If you want to take your game seriously, you will recover by rehydrating with more sensible fluids and a healthy balanced meal of lean protein, low GI carbs and plenty of salad or vegetables.
It’s very hard to eat well if you always rely on pot luck that the club house will have what you are looking for, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and prepare your own meals and snacks. If practical or call ahead and see what the clubhouse offers and their opening times.
For interesting and educational health & nutrition tips be sure to get in touch with Joanne Turners' s work at: