Wednesday December 12 2018
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Eating on the Golf Course

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Summer is here and so is golf. One of the most common questions golfers ask is what they should eat before a golf event. While no single pre-event meal can compensate for an otherwise inadequate diet, the pre-event meal should provide the golfer with adequate carbohydrate energy and ensure optimal hydration.

Consequently, fasting before an event or training is obviously not recommended because it would quickly deplete liver and muscle glycogen stores which would negatively impact overall performance.  

When individualizing a golfer’s meal plan, the following factors should be considered:
1) individual food preference
2) “psychological set” of the competition or event
3) digestibility of the food consumed
4) proper hydration

As a general rule, the pre-event meal should be high in carbohydrate, moderate in protein, and low in fat. Carbohydrates provide energy faster, help maintain blood sugar levels, and reduce the feeling of fullness following a meal. Golf is both an anaerobic and aerobic sport, and carbohydrates serve as the main energy nutrient for both types of activity. Foods high in fat and protein content digest slowly and remain in the digestive tract longer.

For some, the stress and tension that precedes an event can also slow intestinal absorption of food by decreasing blood flow to the digestive tract. Thus, timing of the pre-event meal is important. Typically three hours allows sufficient time to digest and absorb a carb-rich meal, however, time is dependent on meal size. A small meal (400-500 calories) may take 2 to 3 hours to digest, while a larger meal could take 4 hours or more. High carb breakfast suggestions are:

  • cereal with non-fat milk
  • fresh fruit or juice
  • toast, bagel or English muffin (plain or with jam)
  • pancakes or waffles
  • non-fat or low fat fruit yogurt


Finally, dehydration is the most significant concern for golf athletes during play; therefore, it is important to maintain optimal hydration status before, during, and after an event. As a rule, golfers should be well hydrated before the event (2 cups of fluid 2 hours prior) and should ingest at least 2 cups of fluid per hour of activity. Fluid ingestion after the event should equal 2 to 3 cups for every pound of body weight lost.

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