Healthy eating can lead to longevity and healthy scores.
Now the statement above isn’t entirely true, however, some studies do back up the fact that healthy eating on and off the golf course can improve your lifestyle and wellbeing that equate to better golf performance. This month we investigate what you can do to change your food choices to stay sharp on the course and stay healthy off it.
1) Eating on the Course
Take care of your body it’s the only place you must live in
Eating healthy on the golf course is something that has become easier to do, yet many avoid doing so. Many golfers will tend to eat a usual breakfast before a round. Popular choices would be cereal or a bagel and then fast until after the round is over. On average a round for a foursome of golfers takes 4 hours and 15 minutes, this is a long amount of time from a big breakfast to a hearty lunch. During this time the body may get hungry, tired and short of energy. These conditions can have a big effect on your ability to stay focused and fresh. During the golf swing we exert fast spurts of energy over a short period of time up to seventy, eighty or ninety times in a typical round of golf. Adding this to the energy that’s imparted in walking to the tee, the green or even looking for your ball it’s inevitable energy levels may dip. Mentally this isn’t the best way to approach golf as we all know it’s a game of decision making and execution.
Staying energized is attainable by adding a few smaller meals on the course and reducing the size of meals off the course (See section 2 and 3). By breaking up your eating and drinking habits spread evenly on the course will result in energy levels staying high leading to better concentration on the task at hand.
Your choices are plentiful if they allow the body to work efficiently and stay healthy. Below are some key charts along with good foods and bad foods lists to help the body stay in peak condition and free of inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to safeguard against foreign bacteria, viruses, and infection. When it senses a threat, the body will trigger the release of chemicals and white blood cells. The result damages internal tissues, causes high blood pressure, painfully swollen and stiff joints, and encourages the growth of abnormal cells. All these effects can be very harmfully to a golfer who relies on flexible joints and use of muscles.
Snacking as discussed in section 1, is a way to avoid losing focus because of hunger and to maintain energy levels for an entire round of golf. Snacks come in all different shapes and sizes, but the good and bad snacks aren’t easy to tell apart. If you don’t read the nutrients of what you eat I would encourage you to start.
What snacks are good?
Walnuts, pecans, cashews, peanuts, almonds… all are great choices for a snack on the course. Nuts are high in protein, provide you with lots of energy and keep you feeling full. If you can avoid nuts with high salt levels. Many stores are producing salted, natural and raw varieties in snack sized servings.
Apples, grapes, oranges, pears, bananas, etc. Fruits give you a burst of energy without the crash. Better still, they’re filled with the nutrients and fiber you need to live a healthy life. Fruit is always available at halfway houses or snack bars on the golf course.
Things like celery sticks, carrot sticks, cucumbers are good choices (and delicious with a small lid of hummus). Make sure that you store them in a secure container and be sure to avoid softer veggies most notably tomato’s.
Cheese sticks are a fast, easy snack with a good amount of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. Since they come in those peel-able packaging, they’ll be fine in your bag.
Beef jerky is a great, portable snack with a lot of protein and good amount of energy without making your feel sluggish afterward. If you look at the salt content Beef Jerky is like Mixed Nuts with less fat content.
What snacks are bad?
Nutrition Bars can be loaded with sugar and chemical additives. I will say that bars that limit sugar, and contain protein and fiber are acceptable only if you can’t find a better option such as peanut butter on whole wheat bread or an apple.
Whole-gain versions are a big step in the right direction for this snack but enriched-flour products like these are what many nutritionists call “empty calories.” Your body will get very little out of eating them. Go with some carrot sticks if you like a good crunch.
The chief ingredients in sports drinks—electrolytes (sodium, potassium, etc.)—are important for proper muscle function. But people usually get more than enough sodium (salt) from their normal diet. And the added chemicals and sugars (natural and artificial) make me cringe. Drink water and eat a banana and you’ll get the same benefits without filling your body with sugar, chemicals and unneeded calories.
Seems odd to pair these two drinks together, doesn’t it? After all, fruit juice is found in nature and soda was created in some laboratory. Truth is, there is very little that separates these two awful beverages, because both are off the charts with sweeteners. I’ve already explained that natural sugars leave the body open to blood/sugar spikes. But even if you chose a drink that contains artificial sweeteners, your brain initially doesn’t know the difference and you feel many of the same highs followed by big, big lows. What about fresh squeezed juice? Think about it. How many oranges would you have to squeeze to get an 8-ounce glass of OJ? That’s a lot of sugar! If you want some fizz, go with sparkling water or low-sodium club soda. If you like the taste of fruit juice, eat an apple, orange or berries instead.
Bagels and Breakfast Sandwiches
Eggs are easily one of the best things you can eat before you play golf because they send a signal to your brain that you are full for a considerable amount of time without having to stuff yourself. Not to mention the many nutrients found in them. However, the bagel that surrounds your egg sandwich is one of the worst things you can eat for a golf breakfast.
3) Eating Off the Course
Eating off the course generally relates to breakfast and lunch. We stated earlier that reducing the size of these two meals when you play golf will help your hunger and focus stay level when accompanied with nutritious and specific snacking. Also try setting your body up for a quick recovery. Within 15 minutes of finishing your round, drink two glasses of water. To repair muscle torque and tear, eat some protein and replace energy stores with carbs, like a steak with vegetables and a baked potato or chicken salad with rice. If you’re going to drink alcohol, do it with food and water. Easy carbohydrate and protein snacks include chocolate milk, dairy-based fruit smoothies or a balanced meal with lean meat, whole-grains, and fruits or vegetables.
I understand that it is easier said than done and hard to do in Country Club living where the choices are plentiful, and nutrition is an afterthought. To help you out I have highlighted a few options to help you avoid bad foods and stock up on good foods to help compliment the work you’re doing on the golf course.
For more information on healthy living or eating search for your local nutritionist for more details. Nutritionists can give you some great options to compliment your life style, age, health conditions and ultimately help you keep playing this game at the very best level you can.
I hope we have identified ways to stay healthier in 2018
And maybe helped to keep that new year’s resolution.
For more help on your golf game please contact me:
Nick Banks, PGA