Can the wrong food and drink choices before a round of golf negatively affect your performance?
Absolutely. Having an imbalanced diet and making poor food and drink choices before a round of golf can impact the way you play.
Eating too many calories in one meal can make you feel sluggish, bloated and tired. Eating too little won’t provide you with enough energy to last you the whole round.
Providing false energy into the body with stimulant energy drinks or coffee before a round can also have a negative impact as the caffeine can 1. Dehydrate you; which can affect physical performance, mental clarity and visual perception and 2. Make you agitated which can affect feel on and around the greens.
How can the correct food and drink choices before a round of golf reverse the above issues and positively affect your performance?
Consuming a balance of good healthy macro nutrients before a game can greatly improve your chances of playing well.
The three main macro nutrients being carbohydrates, protein and fats. All three play a role in your diet for health and performance, however, timings of consumption could be crucial for you and your game.
Alongside adequate hydration, getting your nutrition right will ensure you have sustained energy especially coming into the back 9 without the usual peaks and troughs seen with poor choices.
What to eat when preparing for a round of golf?
There are a few things to consider:
This meal should mainly consist of starchy carbohydrates such as rice or sweet potatoes with a good serving of protein such as chicken, turkey or lean red meat and a nice serving of green veg on the side.
Breakfast on the day
Your breakfast should consist of protein, fats and fiber and should be relatively light. This will make sure you stabilise your blood sugar levels before going out and playing. A breakfast containing foods such as cereal, fruits and bread can actually spike blood sugar levels and what goes up must come down resulting in an energy crash
Playing a round of golf can burn on average 400 calories per hour. It’s essential that post play you refuel depleted energy stores with a nutritious meal. This will aid in your recovery and sleep.
The golf swing is an athletic movement causing stress and strain on the body. Couple this with walking a whole round and even carrying your clubs the whole round requires recovery. Make sure you have a meal that is again high in carbohydrates, protein and veg similar to the pre round meal.
Should golfers eat during a round? If so, what should they eat?
To get the most out of your game it is recommended you snack during play and stay hydrated. Here are a few suggestions of what you should eat during play and what you should avoid.
Chocolate bars and energy bars – they are high in sugar so can cause an energy spike and then a crash.
Sausage / bacon rolls / sandwiches from the halfway house etc – foods that are too heavy and stodgy can make you feel tired and lethargic as blood is redirected to the stomach to aid in digestion as opposed to being in the working muscles. This is why a lot of people feel tired at work after lunch and struggle with productivity.
As mentioned before, caffeine such as coffee and energy drinks can actually diminish performance for many. Golf is long duration sport and requires sustainable energy NOT short bursts.
Mixed nuts – a great snack that’s is high in fats and protein which can curb hunger, provide energy without spiking blood sugar levels.
Beef Jerky / Billatong – A nutritious protein snack which is light and great tasting.
Protein Bars – unlike energy bars these are low in sugar and some taste just as good as your favourite chocolate bar. However, make sure you always check the label for sugar content.
Branch chain amino acids with electrolytes – drinking this can help reduce fatigue and improve mental clarity and performance as it provides fuel and hydration.
Water – see below.
How important is it to remain hydrated throughout a round? How can dehydration negatively affect your game?
I personally feel this is where a lot of amateurs go wrong. Staying hydrated during a round of golf is crucial if you expect to play well.
We lose water every day when we breathe, sweat and go to the bathroom. If we don’t consume enough to keep us hydrated your muscle will fatigue quicker, which can reduce coordination and cause muscle cramps.
It can also affect mental clarity which can result in poor course management decisions and if you are severely dehydrated this can affect visual perception which can reduce your ability to read greens effectively.
I recommend you drink 100-150ml of water every 15-20mins. Allocate certain holes where you take the time to have a sip.
Remember this “if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated”
Aside from nutrition, what other fitness tips can you give to golfers preparing for a round? Are there any specific exercises they should undertake and why?
I strongly believe all golfers who are looking to improve their game should do a mobility warm up of some sorts before play. I know finding time for this isn’t easy or can be embarrassing but I guarantee it will improve your chances of playing well.
Golf is an aggressive sport and if you don’t get the right muscles firing pre play you greatly increase your chances of injury. You need to get the glutes firing and activated as this helps to stabilise the pelvis and takes strain off the lower back.
Also due to poor posture, most of us will need to open up the chest area, activate the scapulas (shoulder blades) and stretch the shoulder joints into external rotation. A simple pre mobility warm-up drill like this one below can help mobilise the key areas required.
Pre-Round Warm Up
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