Nutrition Choices for Golf Success

You wake up on a sunny day in Southern California, looking forward to the golf match you have scheduled for the afternoon. But that's then and this is now, so you go make your usual breakfast. Wait . . . stop . . . rewind.

If you want to play your best game of golf in the afternoon, you need to make appropriate nutrition choices in the morning.

Have you ever felt your concentration or energy flagging toward the end of a round? Paying attention to good golf nutrition can help you avoid fading on the last few holes.

Drink for Your Best Game . . . Water, That Is

If you want to be hydrated on the golf course, you have to start from when you awaken. Nobody functions well when they're dehydrated. But since many people don't get enough fluids on a regular basis, they don't have an easy time identifying what it feels like when they need more liquid.

The antidote is two-pronged.

First, if you follow a plan and hydrate on a schedule, then your hydration won't rely on whether you feel thirsty. Your hydration plan should include more water when it's hot and humid. Take the advice of a trainer you trust to set new hydration goals, and modify them as needed for your personal situation.

Second, you won't stay hydrated if you use diuretics, so avoid them unless you're taking them for medical reasons. If you're under a physician's care, you should follow that doctor's advice for steering clear of dehydration on the golf course.

Food for Thought Gives Way to Food for Performance

One reason that some people don't connect nutrition and golf performance is that they underestimate the rigors of golf. True, it doesn't have the intense energy demands of a gymnastics routine, but eighteen holes requires an extended period of concentration and bursts of energy for around three to four hours.

Just as in hydration, proper eating for golf performance has two key elements. The first involves what you eat, and the second is about when you eat it.

When to Eat

Let's talk about when first. Just as golf fitness is an everyday pursuit, not just a few exercises or a warm-up you do before hitting the links, the same thing is true of eating. If you don't eat to provide your body with the vitamins, minerals, and protein it needs every day or consume a diet that is high in fat, calories, sugar, or other substances that don't serve you well, eating well on the day of your golf game can't overcome all of that.

The focus on when you eat includes an emphasis on frequency. Three meals a day isn't the optimal way to eat for your best golf game. More frequent and smaller meals helps keep your blood sugar levels steady.

Experts have different approaches to managing the timing of eating, but they agree that avoiding a heavy meal before playing and snacking during your golf game are both helpful.

Did you know that avoiding a large meal meant to last you through a golf game means you'll have the opportunity to play when your body isn't focused on digestion? As a result, you're likely to be both more alert and in a better mood.

What to Eat

Now let's turn to what to eat for best golf performance. The main emphasis is on lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. Menu items at the clubhouse or halfway house aren't necessarily beneficial for top performance.

If you're a woman looking for advice on golf nutrition, the LPGA has specific guidelines for women.

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Smith, B. (n.d.). Fuel your golf tank. Retrieved from

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