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Golf Diet

by Amy Neighbors

    This article is one of our editor's top picks this month.

    A diet that is balanced and consists of all the major nutrients--carbohydrates, proteins and fats--is recommended for golfers. Although golf is not necessarily seen as a high-impact workout, it still takes a toll on the body and therefore requires proper nutrition and hydration.

    Carbohydrates

    Approximately 50 percent of a golfer’s diet should come from whole grain carbohydrates. This includes whole grain fiber rich carbohydrates, such as oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, fruits and vegetables. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy and without enough of the right carbohydrates, the body will be tired and unable to perform. Each gram of carbohydrate provides the body with 4 calories. If a person eats an apple that contains 20 g of carbohydrates, they would be taking in 80 calories. Each person has a different daily caloric need based on gender, activity level and metabolic rate. The Food and Drug Administration recommends between 1,600 and 2,800 depending on those factors. For example, if a golfer needs 2200 calories per day, 1100 of those calories should come from healthy whole grain carbohydrates.

    Proteins

    Protein is found in meats, dairy, and vegetable sources. Like carbohydrates, proteins provide the body with 4 calories per gram. This nutrient macronutrient rebuilds muscle tissue and regulates chemical processes and should total 20 percent to 30 percent of a golfer’s diet. During workouts that include golf, the body’s muscle tissue breaks down in a process called catabolism. It is then built back up during anabolism. This process could not take place without proper amino acids that come from eating foods high in protein. Animal proteins from fish and poultry are the leanest, therefore their fat and calorie amounts are lower. Red meats tend to be high in fat and calories so sticking to leaner cuts and smaller portions are the best choice. Dairy including milk, cheese, and yogurt have decent amounts of protein in them as well. Vegetables also provide good sources of protein. Beans, nuts and whole grains are all great options and easily accessible.

    Fats

    Like carbohydrates, fat is also an energy source for muscle, however fat has 5 more calories per gram than carbohydrates and protein, topping out at 9 calories per gram. The recommended amount of fat is approximately 20 percent of the golfer’s daily calories. Almost every food has small amounts of fat. The goal is take in foods that contain unsaturated fats, mono and poly, often referred to as healthy fats. Avocados, olive and peanut oil, nuts, and cold water fish are all good sources healthy fats, and should be included in a golfer’s daily diet.

    Water

    Water, the nutrient the body can not life without, is probably the most under valued part of a golfer’s diet. It is vital to remember water intake and hydration are a crucial part of the golfing. The body needs to stay hydrated, especially during the warmer golf months, as golfers lose water from the water through sweat, breathing, and excretion via the kidneys and intestines. Athletes, including golfers, lose more water through sweat and breathing because when they exercise the heart rate and body temperature increases. The water that is lost must be replenished as a slight drop in hydration can cause fatigue and even confusion. Dangerous levels of water in the body can cause dehydration, which can be fatal.

    Meals

    To be certain a golfer is getting the right amount of each nutrient in their body, careful attention should be given to eating balanced meals. A balanced meal will include foods that have all of the three large nutrients as well as a glass of water. An example breakfast would be whole grain oats, with a few walnuts, blueberries and a glass of water. Lunch may be turkey on a whole wheat bread with a mixed green salad, and an apple. Dinner could include grilled chicken, a baked sweet potato and a steamed broccoli. It is important to snack between meals throughout the day as well. Fruit, string cheese, yogurt and vegetable sticks

    About the Author

    Amy Neighbors is president and master trainer of Swing Athletics Golf Performance Fitness. She is an AFAA-certified group fitness instructor, SCW and NHE personal trainer, and ARC CPR. Neighbors holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Illinois. She began writing for online publications while working on her master's degree in 2006.

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