Nutrition for Golf
Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the nutrition strategies that can drive your golf game to new heights. Golf is a sport of precision, focus, and endurance, and the right nutrition can significantly impact your performance on the course. Drawing from reputable scientific studies and resources from sports dietitians, we offer expert guidance on nutrition strategies to help elevate your game and achieve your golfing aspirations.
Fueling Your Body For GOLF
Golf is classed as a low-moderate intensity physical activity, paired with intermittent highly skilled explosive movements and sustained concentration levels. Depending on the golfers ability, a typical round of golf (18 holes) can take approximately 3-5 hours to complete. A golfer can cover up to 20km of walking each game based on an average 7km course (1). A general balanced diet is recommended to support fit golfers, emphasizing lean proteins for muscle repair, carbs for energy, and fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and healthy fats for essential nutrients (1).
In golf nutrition, carbohydrates play a pivotal role due to the sustained energy demands and intense mental focus required throughout a round. Low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates are especially valuable for golfers as they provide a steady release of energy, preventing rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. This helps in maintaining consistent endurance and focus, crucial for precise shots and decision-making on the course. In contrast, high GI carbohydrates can lead to rapid energy fluctuations, potentially causing fatigue and lapses in concentration. Therefore, incorporating low GI carbohydrates into a golfer's diet is a strategic choice to ensure optimal performance throughout the game. Here are some meal ideas that incorporate low GI carbohydrates; breakfast quinoa bowl, whole wheat sandwich, brown rice salad, chickpea and vegetable salad, sweet potato and black bean burrito.
Protein intake is of significant importance for golfers aiming to enhance their performance on the course. While golf may not require the same level of physical exertion as some other sports, the body still needs protein to support muscle repair and maintenance. Adequate protein intake aids in the recovery process, reducing the risk of muscle fatigue and soreness after a round of golf. The recommended daily protein intake for an average adult is around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, for athletes, including golfers, protein needs may be higher, ranging from 1.2 to 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight, depending on their level of activity and training intensity. Ensuring an appropriate protein intake, derived from sources such as lean meats, poultry, fish, dairy, and plant-based options like beans and tofu, can help golfers maintain muscle health and support overall performance on the green.
Sci-Mx has a range of protein powders that can help with boosting your protein intake such as the Ultra Muscle which provides 57g of protein and 5g of creatine. Alternatively for those who follow a vegan diet, Sci-Mx has Pro-V-Gain, an advanced blend of soy, pea and rice proteins formulated to contain high levels of BCAAs and essential micronutrients.
Healthy fats play a vital role in optimizing golf performance. Golfers need to sustain their energy levels and mental focus over several hours on the course, and healthy fats provide a steady source of energy. Additionally, they aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin D, which contributes to bone health, a crucial aspect of the golf swing. Incorporating foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, oily fish and olive oil into your diet are all great sources of healthy fats.
Vitamins and minerals
Micronutrients play multifaceted roles in the body, including energy metabolism, muscle function, and maintaining a strong immune system. Specifically, golfers can benefit from vitamins like vitamin D, which supports bone health, and vitamin C which aids in collagen production, potentially reducing the risk of joint injuries. Minerals like calcium and magnesium (which can be lost through sweat on the golf course) contribute to muscle function and overall well-being. The recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals can vary depending on factors like age, gender, and activity level. It's advisable for golfers to maintain a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains to ensure they meet their daily vitamin and mineral needs.
Hydration plays a pivotal role when playing golf as even mild dehydration can lead to mental fatigue, a detrimental factor for golfers striving for accuracy and consistency in their game. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research underscores the impact of dehydration, revealing that golfers who were mildly dehydrated resulted in a significant impairment of both motor and cognitive abilities. The golfing subjects' driving distance and accuracy were significantly reduced (3). Thus, staying well-hydrated is not only essential for physical endurance but also for maintaining the sharp mental acuity required for success on the golf course.
Some players may benefit from consuming small amounts of caffeine during their game to enhance mental focus and skill precision. A 2009 simulated golf study found that for skilled golfers, the intake of an isotonic sports drink infused with caffeine before and during a golf round led to enhanced putting performance and heightened alertness (4). Sci-Mx’s X-Plode Pre-workout performance powder contains 250mg Caffeine per serving. A great option for golfers looking to boost their alertness prior or during a game.
Creatine monohydrate is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in various foods and synthesized by the body, primarily in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. It is composed of creatine, a molecule made up of amino acids (arginine, glycine, and methionine), and a water molecule (monohydrate). When taken as a supplement, creatine monohydrate is known to enhance muscle performance, increase strength, and improve exercise capacity by increasing the body's phosphocreatine stores, which are crucial for short bursts of intense physical activity.
Incorporating creatine into golf nutrition has shown promising results. A 2022 study demonstrated the impact of a combined caffeine and creatine supplement on golfers. Over a 1-month strength training regimen, male golfers experienced a significant increase in driving distance by 13.9 yards. The supplement, containing 5 g of creatine and 100 mg of caffeine, was administered twice a day for 2 weeks, followed by once a day for 2 weeks. This suggests that creatine supplementation can potentially enhance the performance of golfers by providing them with the strength and power needed for longer drives on the course (2).
Sci-Mx has a 100% Ultra Pure Creatine Monohydrate shake that can be easily incorporated into a golfer's nutrition and training regime.
In preparation for a round of golf, nutrition becomes a pivotal part of the game. Given the potential duration of up to 5 hours on the course, maintaining stable blood sugar and energy levels is key to warding off fatigue. The timing of your pre-game meal depends on your tee-off time, which can vary widely. Many golfers opt for a pre-competition meal around 3 to 4 hours before starting, ensuring it contains carbohydrates for energy, hydration through fluids, and protein to stave off hunger during the round. Meal options like baked beans on toast or a grainy wrap with cheese, chicken, and salad fit the bill. Closer to the game, about 1-2 hours prior, a light carbohydrate-rich snack like an english muffin with cheese and vegemite can provide an extra energy boost. For those dealing with nerves or a poor appetite before competing, a protein fruit smoothie offers a liquid source of protein and carbohydrates (1).
Staying nourished and hydrated during a lengthy round of golf is essential for maintaining energy levels and concentration, particularly if a meal is missed due to the timing of the game. To ensure a steady intake of nutrients throughout the round, golfers should consider enjoying a small, healthy snack every 4-6 holes. It's recommended that golfers aim to consume between 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour during their game (2).
Some convenient and easily portable options include fresh fruit, simple sandwiches like ham and cheese, dried fruit and nut mixes, and protein flapjacks. While water remains the primary fluid for hydration, during extended rounds or for individuals with substantial fluid losses, electrolyte drinks can offer both hydration and a source of carbohydrates to keep energy levels steady (1). Sci-Mx’s Protein flapjacks are a quick and easy way to keep fuelled while you’re on the course. The flapjacks come in two delicious flavours; Mixed Berry and Chocolate.
Post round nutrition recovery is paramount, especially during multi-day tournaments or when playing multiple rounds in a single day. Recovery meals and snacks should contain carbohydrates to replenish muscle glycogen stores, and lean protein to support muscle repair. Hydration should also be prioritised to replenish fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat. A balanced recovery meal might feature options like a ham or egg and salad sandwich, homemade burritos with chicken and salad, a protein boosted smoothie, or a lean beef burger on a whole grain bun with salad. These choices ensure golfers recuperate efficiently, allowing them to maintain peak performance throughout extended and demanding golf tournaments.
An easy recovery food option is making a protein boosted smoothie so you can provide yourself with a blend of carbohydrates and protein. Blend together 1 banana, a handful of oats, blueberries, nut butter, milk and a scoop of protein powder like Total Protein powder which provides 22g protein per 30g.
Nutrition is a vital component of your golfing success, but often one that is overlooked. By incorporating evidence-based nutritional strategies, you can enhance your endurance, focus, and overall performance on the course. Remember, every golfer's nutritional needs may differ, so it's essential to listen to your body and make adjustments where necessary. We always recommend players speak with an Accredited Sports Dietitians so they can put together a personalised nutrition plan based on your individual physiology and training goals.
- Food for Golf (2020) Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA). Available at: https://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/factsheets/food-for-your-sport/food-for-your-sport-golf/ (Accessed: 26 September 2023).
- Zoffer, M. (2022) Competitive golf: How longer courses are changing athletes and their approach to the game, Nutrients. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9104041/ (Accessed: 26 September 2023).
- Sport, S. of (2012) Effect of Acute Mild Dehydration on Cognitive-Motor Performance in Golf : The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, LWW. Available at: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2012/11000/effect_of_acute_mild_dehydration_on.23.aspx (Accessed: 26 September 2023).
- SJ;, S.E.P. (2009) The effect of a carbohydrate-caffeine sports drink on simulated golf performance, Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19767804/ (Accessed: 26 September 2023).