Golf has a lot going for it: It’s played in a beautiful setting, it’s a fun but challenging sport, and it causes you to think about proper form and alignment for the perfect swing. As a newbie to the sport, I have found it to be therapeutic because while I’m getting some exercise, I almost feel like I’m on vacation, tooling around in the golf cart and taking in the magnificent landscaping.
That’s why, as a RD with a specialty in sports nutrition, I didn’t think of golf as being the type of sport with special nutritional requirements. When my clients claimed golf as their form of exercise, myself along with my other colleagues were guilty of underestimating the calories they burned. However, based on my Apple watch and on the research, a typical golf game, including walking and carrying clubs, can burn 330 calories on average per hour. With that in mind, here are my sports nutrition tips for optimizing your golf game.
The foods you eat play a major role in your golf game, and this starts with lean protein. Your options include chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, beans, peas, lentils, cottage cheese, tofu, and PB2 (powdered peanut butter). Feed your muscles for greater strength!
Make sure you include some carbohydrates. Athletes are advised to consume between 3-6 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. It’s important to note that you should balance your carbs so that some provide instant energy and others are lower on the glycemic index, meaning they take longer to absorb into your system. This ensures that you have the energy to make it through all 18 holes rather than a short burst that leaves you tired and listless throughout your game. Aim for steel-cut oats, apples, peaches, brown rice, bran flakes, whole grain bread, milk or yogurt, and leafy greens before you head out to the links.
Once your game is underway, keep your energy levels up with a handful of nuts. They will help power your game and quell hunger, with the added advantage of being salty. This will not only replenish what you are losing through sweating, but also encourage you to hydrate more frequently. When you’re talking about an outdoor game that can last several hours (in the Houston heat no less!), hydration is crucial to your health and well-being.
After your game, it’s important to eat properly and rehydrate. The Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN) group with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that in order to help your body recover, it’s important to have a snack or a meal that includes fluids, protein and carbohydrates within 15 to 30 minutes after your round of golf or practice.
For optimum health benefits on the golf course, walk as much as you can and carry your own clubs. And when you return to the club, drink water and eat well. You will see the results not only in your golf game, but in your energy and your desire to get back out there on the links!
Stay healthy, everyone! And please feel free to share this post or to add your own tips in the comments! If you are having a tough time managing your weight or you need help with your own personal meal plan catered to your goals and lifestyle, reach out to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.