Whether you play golf recreationally, are an amateur or play in high school, college or professionally, fuel should be a part of your game! For example, let’s say you have warmed up, putted, played nine holes and thus walked a good two to three miles, if you want to stay strong for the last nine holes, you better “fuel the turn”. Providing your body with adequate nutrition at this point can help your energy stay up, your mental acuity stay sharp, and your blood sugar stay normalized…all key to a solid golf game.
So what should you eat? When you think of what gives you energy, three things should come to mind: carbohydrates, protein and fat. Carbohydrates are your body’s are a great source of energy and thus digest very quickly to fuel the current activity. This is great if you are running or playing a basketball game, but in golf eating carbohydrate alone can cause a spike in blood sugar followed by a sudden drop. This can manifest as a headache or feeling fatigued, faint or dizzy. For those of you who wash a banana down with 20 oz of a sports drink, you might know the feeling I am talking about. This problem can be fixed by adding a protein or healthy fat to your carbohydrate snack. Both protein and fat provide satiety and slow down the digestion process which prevents a blood sugar spike.
Thus, in order to keep your blood sugar level and energy stabilized during 18 holes of golf, you need to fuel the body with carbohydrate, protein and some healthy fat. Here are good examples:
Energy Bar & Apple
Aim to choose a bar with carbohydrate, protein and a few grams of fat
Choose a bar that is not coated as they tend to melt and make a mess; bars that are trail mixed based, oat based, and dried fruit based are good options
Homemade Trail Mix
½ cup granola, ¼ cup nuts, ¼ cup dried fruit, crumbled protein bar
Granola Bar & 20-25 Almonds
Choose a granola bar that is based with a variety of whole grains, not enriched flour and sugar
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich
2 Tbs. all natural peanut butter and 2 Tbs. 100% fruit jelly on whole wheat/multi-grain bread
Fruit & Nuts
Banana and ½ cup almonds
½ cup dried fruit and ½ cup nuts
Remember that many golf tournaments are very hot; thus there are some foods that should not be brought onto the course due to food safety issues. If you can’t keep them cold, don’t bring:
Any form of meat (chicken, turkey, ham, tuna)
Any food with a creamy sauce (mayonnaise, sour cream, salad dressing, cream cheese)
Any form of dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)
You also need to stay hydrated so make sure you are drinking water throughout, not just at the turn. If you do not feel like eating much, a sports drink can provide carbohydrate in addition to fluid and electrolytes, just make sure to add some nuts or part of a protein bar to add a little protein. And if you have trouble getting in enough water, try drinking a low-calorie flavored water with electrolytes as flavor tends to help athletes of all levels drink more and thus do a better job at hydrating.
You want to feel strong on the back nine? Fuel your turn with high quality nutrition and fluid in addition to a few nutrient-rich snacks along the way.
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSDD, LD is a sports dietitian in the DFW area. She has worked with Texas Christian University Athletics, the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Dallas Soccer, Jim McLean Golf School and many PGA Tour players as well as with many middle school, high school and endurance athletes. Amy speaks at a variety of nutrition, athletic training and coaching conferences. She is an ambassador/spokesperson for the National Dairy Council, a Dairy Max Health and Wellness Advisory Council member and on the Speakers Bureau for Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Amy is also the co-author of “Swim, Bike, Run – Eat,” a sports nutrition book for triathletes.
Amy received her Bachelor of Science in speech communications from Texas Christian University and Master of Science in exercise and sports nutrition from Texas Woman’s University. She is also a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.