Golf isn’t the most fast-paced sport out there. It can be tempting to think that nutrition isn’t really that important, especially when you’re just playing a round or two with friends on a lazy weekend and having a good time.
But fueling yourself with the wrong stuff (or nothing at all) can not only hamper your performance on the day, but it can have long-term effects if you’re consistently choosing the wrong nutrition.
Here’s what golfers should eat before a round to stay feeling good on the course.
Start The Day Right
Having the right meal before you start your round of golf can have an impact on your overall performance levels. What you fuel your body with needs to help you maintain your blood sugar levels and energy levels while you’re on the course.
Eat a meal that has a combination of protein, low-glycemic carbohydrates, vegetables, and some whole grain starches. This combination will help prevent fatigue and blood sugar imbalances.
According to golf trainer and sports nutritionist Jamie Greaves, ‘What we’re looking for in a pre-round meal is a good balance of carbs, proteins and fats.
‘When we’re exercising we’re generally using carbohydrates. These get stored in our body as glycogen. That’s the fuel we use on course, but proteins and fats are really important because they also help us stay fuller for longer, which in golf is a useful thing, especially if you’re playing for five hours.’
A nutrient-dense meal is the best way to go, whether it’s an omelette or a peanut butter smoothie with protein powder. This will keep you fueled for longer without the sugar crash.
What To Avoid
You’d want to stay away from foods that are processed, or that have high levels of sugar or stimulants like caffeine. While you may feel great for about 45 minutes of play, when you start to crash it can lead to the following:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety (depending on caffeine levels)
If possible, avoid processed foods and sugar the night before you play a round of golf, as they can have an impact on the quality of your sleep. These could leave you feeling sluggish in the morning.
Supplements To Add To Your Day
If you’re playing golf in warmer climates, the heat can speed up dehydration and exacerbate its effects.
To maintain normal and comfortable muscle function, you’d need to maintain your levels of potassium, calcium, chloride, magnesium and sodium. If your electrolyte levels drop too much, you could experience:
- Lack of concentration
Take an electrolyte supplement before you tee-off and slip either a sachet or gel into your pocket, to have while you’re on the golf course. This will help balance your electrolyte levels while you focus on your game.
Don’t Forget to Hydrate
Some golfers may not drink enough fluids, as they don’t want to interrupt their game by having to go to the bathroom! But when you’re playing, whether in cool or warm weather, for up to 5 hours, it’s incredibly important to remain hydrated.
If you’re playing in an area with a lower humidity level, you may not realize how quickly moisture evaporates from the skin, which can lead to dehydration just as fast as the heat.
Before you start playing your round, you should aim to drink between 6 and 8ml water for every pound of weight.
While you’re on the golf course, you should be sipping water every 10 to 15 minutes to compensate for fluid loss from sweating and breathing.
Even if you don’t feel thirsty, stay hydrated. Remember to mix an electrolyte supplement into one of your bottles of water. This will help replace the sodium that can be diluted from drinking water and losing moisture through sweat.
Stay Fueled on the Course
Depending on the timing of a round, golfers will sometimes miss lunch, which can leave them feeling tired and irritable. You should aim to have a healthy snack on every 6th hole, to help you maintain your concentration levels and keep your energy levels up.
It’s not easy to load your golf bag with snacks. You may be thinking of taking a packet of crisps or a chocolate bar,as they’re easy to eat, don’t make a mess, and are able to give you a quick energy boost.
Instead, choose snacks that will be able to maintain your blood sugar levels for a period of time and won’t have you crashing after 45 minutes. Consider the following healthy snacks:
- Granola bars
- Protein balls
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Beef jerky
By now, you should have a better idea of how crucial it is to fuel yourself with high-quality, easily digestible foods before heading out onto the golf course.
It may be tempting to sneak in chocolate or fried treats to give you a burst of energy, but it only takes one experience of a sugar-crash halfway through a round to understand how poor nutrition can affect your game (and your health).
Pay attention to the quality of your nutrition, and you may even find that your game improves.