Golf Nutrition – Importance of Eating Healthy

A typical day at a golf course can take about 5-8 hours of walking, training, swinging the club and sometimes carrying a full bag of clubs around. Golfers need to train their strength, flexibility and aerobic conditioning.

Whether in competition or a practice session, a golfer’s body goes through strain and stress and can end up burning an average of 300 calories per hour. These calories need to be recovered in order to gain back the strength and energy needed for the daily functioning of the body.

A golfer should, therefore, maintain a proper diet and stay hydrated all the time.

There is a special nutrition diet that every golfer should adhere to in order to maintain the needs of staying fit and being energetic. As a golfer, your body needs all the energy it can get for better performance and these can be found in fats, protein, and carbs.

In this article, we are going to break down these nutrients to see how each of them contributes to a golfer’s nutritional needs.

Resource: Golf Practice Routine to Break 70

What are Fats & Types of Fat?

Fats are essential nutrients for the normal functioning of the body. They supply the body with energy and allow for the absorption of other nutrients.

A golfer needs to eat foods rich in fats to get enough energy that strengthens the body muscles to be able to endure all the golf activities.

One gram of fat contains 9 calories. Sportsmen such as golfers need extra body mass and energy and should, therefore, take about 15% to 30% of fat in total calories taken.

For example, a 2,000 calorie diet would require 600 calories from fat which works out to about 67 grams of healthy fats.

Types of Fats – Healthy & Unhealthy

Saturated Fats

Saturated Fats are also sometimes called solid fats because they are solid at room temperature.

Saturated fats are mostly found in animal foods such as meat, meat products, dairy products, poultry skin, cheese, and fish. They are also found in tropical oils such as palm oil, coconut oil, and cocoa butter.

Too much saturated fat in the body raises cholesterol levels. A healthy adult is, therefore, advised to eat NO MORE than 10% of saturated fats in total calories taken.

Saturated fats are sometimes classified as bad fat since they can raise cholesterol levels, but your body still needs them anyway.

Unsaturated Fats

These fats are in liquid form and are derived from plants. They are classified as good fat since they lower cholesterol levels and they are divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

  • Monounsaturated fats – They are found in avocados, olive oil, nuts, olives, and peanut butter. Their molecules have only one hydrogen atom, and they may help lower LDL cholesterol and keep DHL cholesterol at higher levels.
  • Polyunsaturated fats – These are found in vegetable oils such as sunflower, soybeans, safflower, sesame, and corn oils. They are also found in seafood such as salmon. Eating these kinds of fats may lower LDL cholesterol level. Polyunsaturated fats are also divided into omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.

Trans Fats

These fats are synthetically made through an industrial process that involves adding hydrogen to vegetable oils. They are not good for human health and may increase LDL cholesterol level and lower HDL cholesterol hence exposing you to a risk of coronary heart diseases and stroke.

They are mostly used in fast foods and baked foods such as doughnuts, French fries, pizza, biscuits, cookies, pastries among others. Golfers should try as much as possible to stay away from such foods for better health.

Healthy Fat Foods for Energy

Most people are misinformed to think that all fats are bad for their health as fat is always attributed to obesity. This is not true as your body needs healthy fats for energy and muscle growth especially for golfers who tend to use a lot of energy.

Here some healthy fat foods you should add to your diet to increase the energy levels.

  • Coconut oil – This is a great energy source, and you only need three spoons into your diet, and you’re good to go. It has a naturally delicious flavor and is also ideal for cooking.
  • Avocado – contains about 14 grams of healthy fat per half fruit. You can add them to a salad or eat straight. Avocados also aid the absorption of nutrients when you eat with veggies or fruits.
  • Nuts – These include almonds, macadamia, and walnuts. They are packed with healthy fats and protein fiber and are ideal snacks that you can carry with you when you’re on your daily jog or run.
  • Fish oil – Fish oil is full of omega-3s meant for healthy skin and good weight. They are one of the best fats for golfers who need to stay fit.

Practice Routine: How to Break 80 Golf Drills + Routine

What are Carbs & Types of Carbs?

Carbohydrates are some of the basic food groups that are important for your health. They are found in foods such as vegetables, grains, fruits, and milk products inform of sugars, fibers, and starches.

A healthy adult is required to consume a recommended daily amount (RDA) of 135 grams of carbs. It should be about 45 to 65 percent of your total calorie intake depending on your body weight, age and how intense your activities are. One gram of carbs contains about 4 calories.

The main function of carbohydrates is to fuel the central nervous system and energize the working muscles. They prevent proteins from being used to produce energy and allow for the metabolism of fat.

Carbs are also linked to brain functions and decision making which is very important in a golfer’s life.

Types of Carbs

Carbs are categorized into two; simple and complex. The difference between the two is their chemical structure and how sugars are absorbed and digested faster. The types of carbohydrates include:

  • Sugars – These are simple carbohydrates which are molecules of simple sugars like glucose, galactose, and fructose. They are also known as a monosaccharide. When two of the molecules join together, they are called disaccharides and include sucrose (table sugar) involving a molecule of glucose and fructose. Another disaccharide is lactose (milk sugar), a molecule of glucose and galactose.
  • Starches – These are complex carbohydrates and are polysaccharides. They are composed of long chains of glucose, and your body needs to rapidly break them down to produce energy.
  • Fiber – Fibers are found in the cellulose of plant-based foods which include fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes. Fibers are also divided into soluble and insoluble fibers and are not broken down for energy.

Healthy Carb Options for Increasing Your Energy

High-quality carbs are derived from plants such as legumes, vegetables, fruits, and grains. They have a variety of nutrients that promote good health and give the body the desired energy.

Low-quality carbs, on the other hand, are derived from fat, sugar, sodium, and preservatives. They are often added to foods to improve the tastes.

To improve the quality of nutrients you take, you should consider taking high-quality carbs instead of the low-quality ones which will only feel you up and make it hard for glucose to convert starches and sugars.

As a golfer, you should improve the quality of carbs in your diet by choosing whole grain foods and limiting foods with added sugar. You should eat more food cooked from home rather than buy processed ones.

Golfers are more active during the day hence need more energy and calories to replace the ones lost during golfing activities. You should, therefore, eat at least 2,600 calories in a day with 45 to 65 percent of the calories being from carbohydrates.

What are Proteins?

Proteins are molecules that consist of amino acids called polypeptides. The body cells need these molecules to function.

Proteins regulate the body tissues, cells and organs and all these cannot function without them. The bones, skin, muscle and various parts of the body contain certain amounts of proteins. They also act as neurotransmitters, e.g., the hemoglobin.

There are three types of proteins namely;

  • Complete proteins – which contain all the essential amino acids and are found in animal foods like meat, eggs, and dairy.
  • Incomplete proteins – that contain at least one amino acid and are found in plant foods such as beans, peas, and grains.
  • Complementary proteins – which involve two or more incomplete proteins combined to supply complete protein. They include rice and beans or bread and peanut butter.

Golfers need protein in their diet to build, strengthen and repair the tissues. Proteins include collagen, insulin, hemoglobin, amylase, etc.

According to the FDA, an adult should consume 50 grams of protein in a 2,000 calorie diet. A golfer should, therefore, consume a higher value to get maximum benefits. As a golfer, you are required to eat high-quality protein such as soy, meat, eggs, fish or dairy after the game or an exercise to aid the repair and growth of tissues.

Healthy Proteins for Body Recovery

You need the high-quality amount of proteins of about 15-25 grams for post-workout recovery. These proteins include;

  • Fish – contain micronutrients that are a great source of proteins that aid muscle recovery. They are also high in leucine which is an important tool for rebuilding muscle tissues.
  • Eggs – are also an important protein to aid muscle recovery. Each egg contains leucine and vitamin D for absorbing calcium which helps in building strong muscles.
  • Plant-based proteins – If you’re a vegan, you don’t need to worry as you can still get essential proteins from beans, lentils or peas. These are high in fiber and ease the breakdown of proteins hence aid muscle repair.
  • Chicken – another staple protein you can add to your diet is chicken breasts. Try to aim for skinless to avoid all the fried temptations of how chicken is prepared. Oven roasted or grilled skinless chicken is best!

Below is a breakdown of foods you must eat as a golfer to get the fats, proteins and the carbs your body needs for energy, fueling, and repair.

  • Fats: Avocados, fatty fish, nuts, coconut oil, eggs, sunflower seeds, olive oil, etc.
  • Carbs: Fruits, vegetables, milk products, rice, beans, bread, sweeteners, peas, etc.
  • Proteins: Seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, peas, beans, soy nuts, and seeds.

Questions and Answers

How many calories do golfer burn per 18-hole round of golf?

An 18-hole is a full length of the golf course which roughly involves walking about five miles. It is not just walking as it also involves arm exercise as the golfer could be carrying a golf bag or pushing a cart. A golfer is likely to burn around 1,400 to 1,500 calories walking the 18-hole. The number of calories you burn will depend on whether you’re just walking or carrying a bag.

How many calories do golfers burn per hour?

While most people view golf as a less strenuous sport, it does burn a considerable amount of calories per hour. The amount of calories a golfer will burn also depends on whether he is walking or riding a cart. A golfer walking nine holes carrying clubs will burn around 500 to 730 calories depending on the body weight.

When should golfers eat for energy? Before, during, or after?

As a golfer, you need all the energy you can get before a round of golf. You should ensure you eat meals rich in proteins such as eggs, meat or fish, and complex carbs such as vegetables, fruits or beans.

In the middle of the game, you should also think of stabilizing the energy and eat low-carb foods that consist of fruits like apples, oranges, pears or berries accompanied by nuts.

These foods contain high fiber content which digests slowly hence keep you energized during the game. You should also remember to drink water to keep your body from dehydration.

After a round of golf, it’s now time to refuel and allow your body tissues to repair. You need high-quality proteins and carbohydrates. Forget about burger and chips. You should take some sweet potatoes, salmon and steamed vegetables.

What are Low Glycemic Index Foods?

Glycemic Index is a number that tells you how fast your body converts carbs into energy. The number will help you differentiate slower acting foods which are good carbs from faster acting which are bad carbs.

The smaller the glycemic index numbers, the lower the impact of food on your blood sugar. Two foods with the same carbohydrate content have different glycemic index numbers.

Glycemic index number of 55 or less is low (good), 56 to 69 medium and 70 and above are high (bad). Packaged foods have a glycemic index at the labels, and you can also Google the numbers of common foods on the internet. Natural foods tend to have a low glycemic index while processed ones have high.

Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts have low glycemic index numbers. White rice, potatoes, and white bread have high glycemic levels. Sugary foods like sweet drinks, cookies, cakes, etc. have high glycemic levels.

Sports Drinks vs. Water?

To most people, an obvious answer to this is always water. Well, water is vital in every activity, and the body badly needs it all the time. However, to choose whether to take a sports drink or water depends on the duration of the exercise as well as the intensity. For a less vigorous exercise of about 60 minutes or less, you should drink plenty of water.

For longer exercises and more intense ones, sports drinks are better options. Sports drinks contain electrolytes (potassium and sodium) for regulation of nerves and muscles; carbohydrates for fueling and water for hydration. This means that sports drinks will do three times the work that water would have done.

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