Golf is finally returning to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this year after taking a hiatus from the games since 1904. I did not take up golfing until I was in my mid-twenties but I wish I had started much younger. I find it to be a wonderful game, particularly when you play in good (and patient) company as a beginner. An average game of golf can go for over three and a half hours, with players walking an average of over five and a half miles. This can be quite exhausting to the mind and body if you are not prepared for it, especially in the summer when temperatures are high. Here are some nutrition tips for golfers to make their round more competitive and safe.
1) Hydrate. If golf is to be played when temperatures are hot and/or humid, it is easy for someone to become dehydrated. Fluid loss from sweat combined with the increased energy expenditure from the sport itself makes water alone a poor choice for rehydration. A good tip for golfers is to keep sports drinks that contain both sodium and sugar with them, in addition to water, to maintain fluid levels for optimal hydration and sharpness. Also, beer is not considered a good source of fluid for hydration on the course. Alcohol can be very dangerous since it increases your risk of dehydration through increased urine production.
2) Do not skip breakfast. Eating before you head out to play a round of golf is critical for good performance. Skipping breakfast, or not eating a meal within 2-3 hours of beginning a round, will decrease endurance, attention, and alertness. A high carbohydrate meal is recommended, as well as the addition of healthy protein for added satiety.
3) Snack on the course. It is estimated that golfers can expend anywhere from 2000-2500 calories per round of golf when walking the entire 18 holes and carrying their own bag. During the round, if you are not a fan of sports drinks and prefer to drink water on the course, it is important to eat carbohydrates to prevent dehydration and the possibility of low blood sugar associated with dehydration. Good examples of carbohydrates that are portable, easy to transport, and gentle on the stomach are bananas, trail mix, and granola bars. Of course, if it is hot outside, make sure you have these items in a cooler or make sure to get your trail mix and granola bars without chocolate to prevent a melted mess!
And last but not least, don’t forget to have some carbohydrates and protein as soon as you are done with the round, as well as additional fluid to replenish depleted glycogen stores and help the muscles recover. Maybe the clubhouse has a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, which is a good choice for a post-game snack.