Did you know that you burn somewhere between 800 and 1,500 calories during a round of golf? That cup of coffee and bacon roll isn’t giving you the fuel you need over the course of five hours. You could be leaving yourself exposed to a ‘back nine crash’.
The good news is that improving your fuel management before and during a round of golf is not difficult; it’s just about getting into good habits.
RSNG spoke to golf personal trainer and nutritionist Jamie Greaves for his top tips for better fuel management. Make a few changes and you’ll reap the rewards, instantly…
Don’t Rely On Your Pro Shop… Plan Ahead
Pro shops aren’t always adequately stocked with the right kind of food, which makes planning ahead crucial. So, spend 10 minutes the night before getting your snacks prepared. After all, you wouldn’t forget to load up on balls and tees, would you?
Of course, everyone likes a bite to eat in the clubhouse – and we know what that can mean… fried food. However, as Greaves explains, it’s all about balance.
‘There are certain elements of a Full English breakfast that are actually good, such as grilled bacon and scrambled eggs,’ he says. ‘What we’re looking for in a pre-round meal is a good balance of carbs, proteins and fats.
‘When we’re exercising we’re generally using carbohydrates. These get stored in our body as glycogen. That’s the fuel we use on course, but proteins and fats are really important because they also help us stay fuller for longer, which in golf is a useful thing, especially if you’re playing for five hours.’
That early morning tee time at the weekend is a popular one, which often means we head out on an empty stomach. However, a good breakfast will set you up.
An omelette, avocado on toast and oatmeal with seeds and nuts might not be on the clubhouse menu, but these are the meals you should be targeting. ‘Complex carbs are better,’ adds Greaves. ‘Try swapping out white bread for whole grain bread. That would be a good start.’
‘Proteins and fats are really important because they help us stay fuller for longer’
What Are The Right Kind Of Snacks?
Whatever Jon Rahm was munching on – and the big-hitting Spaniard was taking regular scoops from what looked like a bag of cereal en route to winning the Race to Dubai – it worked.
‘What we’re looking for is approximately 30 grams of carbs every hour or so,’ says Greaves. ‘That roughly equates to something at the fourth, something at the turn and something around the fourteenth. I’d recommend that golfers use those three opportunities.’
‘It would be similar for pre round. You have those carbohydrates, but you’d also look to get in some protein and fats to try to boost the calories, and help you try and stay fuller for longer.’
Snacks to fill your cupboard with include fruit, nuts and seeds. A lot of courses in the States have beef jerky, too, which is a good source for protein and fat. Turkey and chicken wraps, trail mix and a good quality granola bar also get the thumbs up.
‘You’ll see a lot of golfers have a good round but then they just hit the breaks at the end’
Aim for three snacks a round, and you’ll be up around the desired one thousand calorie mark. Manage your nutrition poorly, however, and your performance levels can suffer. ‘You’ll see a lot of golfers have a good round but then they just hit the breaks at the end. They wouldn’t necessarily relate that to nutrition,’ explains Greaves.
‘We’ve all been a bit hungry before and our mood changes. We become tired and irritable. If we’re getting angry on the golf course, that’s going to have a negative impact on our scores. Also consider that golf is an explosive sport. Research shows that you can lose more distance if you don’t eat and drink properly on the golf course.’
How Should You Hydrate?
Depending on the individual, the course and the conditions, golfers can lose anywhere up to 1.2 kilos in water over the course of one round. During this time you should be taking in over a litre of water. True, it’s not as rewarding as that post-round pint, but managed effectively and you’ll maintain your concentration levels.
‘Research shows you only need to be one to two per cent dehydrated for it to start affecting cognitive function; how we think, how we focus. That’s not very much at all,’ warns Greaves. ‘By the time you actually feel thirsty, it’s too late. It’s already started to affect how you think on the golf course.’
Ideally, golfers should be looking to consume a 500-millilitre bottle of water every six holes. ‘There’s no way people get that normally,’ adds Greaves. ‘The other way is to get into the habit of staying hydrated is to take it on between every green and tee; small and often adds up.’
Energy Drink Warning!
In extremely hot conditions, water alone isn’t sufficient to properly hydrate, but energy drinks aren’t necessarily the answer. ‘They do contain electrolytes (salts and minerals found in the body), which is what we want, but they tend to come with quite a lot of rubbish as well,’ says Greaves.
‘I would normally recommend adding electrolyte solutions to water in extreme heat for better hydration rather than an energy drink, but that’s quite a hard sell. Some guys on Tour may have energy drinks, but they’d be quite diluted down. They wouldn’t be the ones you have in a pro shop.’
As for fizzy drinks, let’s just say John Daly’s Diet Coke addiction (he sometimes consumed 28 cans a day) is unusual. ‘From a performance point of view, fizzy drinks are not ideal. It’s not the end of the world if you have one here and there but if we’re talking about performance, go down the water route.’
Finally, be sure to get a good night’s sleep beforehand. It’ll boost your chances of performing to your maximum level. Oh yes, and alcohol is best avoided. The person that says they play better with a hangover? Well, credible research to back that theory up is kinda lacking.
Are you looking to add more distance to your game? RSNG asked Greaves for the five key power moves that will help you find crucial extra yards.
- Jamie Greaves has worked as a golf strength and conditioning coach for the past three years. He is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach and is one of only ten people in the UK with active TPI Level 3 fitness status @jg_golffitness*
Comments are for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.