There is no shortage of books and information available on nutrition and diet for all kinds of athletes…except golfers. There is no debate that, at the highest levels of golf, most players are athletes and they fuel their bodies accordingly, but we never really hear about it. We do however here about the way an NBA, NHL, or NFL player eats, or has changed the way they eat to meet their athletic goals…why? Is it because most adult golfers are out of shape and golf because they can’t play any other sports? No way, look at any adult sport league and tell me most of the players aren’t out of shape and eating poorly. My thoughts are that golf is simply not associated with healthy food. In fact, much of the time it is associated with beer/alcohol and crappy snack foods like chips, hot dogs, soda pop, Gatorade, chocolate, etc., and following the round, more beer and whatever deep fried food they have on the menu at the course (I wouldn’t call restaurants at many public courses healthy, more like cheap pub fare).
Well, I am here to try my absolute best to change that belief and educate you on what the diet of a healthy golfer looks like, as well as some tricks, tips and lifestyle considerations to give you an extra little boost during your rounds. As with most of my posts, this one has become quite lengthy so I will be separating it up into a series. Today’s post will focus on generalities for diet considerations, and future posts will focus on golf specific diet and lifestyle considerations, tips, and tricks for improved performance.
Healthy Human Diet
Without a doubt, in order to be a healthy golfer you must first be a healthy person!! This means adopting a generally healthy human diet. There is no shortage of information on my site about what can be considered a healthy diet…and by diet I mean a lifetime way of eating, not a short term fad diet or cleanse!…I have however outlined the general concepts of a healthy diet that will limit inflammation (cause of chronic disease and pain) and promote intestinal, hormonal, emotional, and cognitive health. All essential for your performance on and off the course.
Avoid Refined Foods (ie. Eat a Whole/Real Food Diet)
Read the ingredients and avoid food additives including:
- Hydrogenated ingredients
- Added sugar (particularly corn syrup and other fructose)
- Artificial colors or flavors
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Ingredients with numbers as part of the name
- “Modified” ingredients
- Anything you cannot pronounce
- Anything you would not find in your own kitchen
- Products with very long ingredient lists
The easiest way to do this is to stick to a whole food diet, limiting packaged foods of all types.
Avoid Added Sugars
Limit your intake of anything with a form of sugar in the ingredients (ex. added to the food) including the following:
- Agave syrup
- Brown sugar
- Cane juice and cane syrup.
- Confectioners’ sugar.
- Corn sweetener (Maltodextrin)
- Corn syrup and hi fructose corn syrup.
- Fruit juice concentrates.
- And the list goes on…
Avoid Hydrogenated and Industrial Seed Oils
- Do not eat oils such as Canola, sunflower, safflower, peanut, cottonseed, margarine, etc.
- Stick to real food fats and oil such as: coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, avocado oil, grass fed butter & ghee, and free range organic animal fat (ex. lard/tallow)
- Remember…saturated fat is actually good for you.
- Evidence continues to mount that there are negative health issues related to gluten for many people.
Avoid Refined Grains
- Even non-gluten grains can be problematic to our health
- Basically avoid anything with some type of flour (breads, pastas, pastries, pancakes, etc.)
- White rice and fermented non-gluten grains are the exception but only occasionally.
Dairy and Beans
- Not everyone needs to avoid dairy and beans.
- In order to determine if they are problematic for you…
- Remove them completely from your diet for 1 month
- Add them back to your diet and pay attention to how you feel mentally, physically, and in your digestive system. Using a food and symptom journal is essential for this part.
- Even if you can tolerate dairy, avoid pasteurized and altered milk products (ex. skim milk). Stick to raw, whole milk products if you can.
- Fermented dairy products are less problematic
- Fermented, sprouted and/or well cooked beans are less problematic.
There you have it, what I consider a non-specific diet template that would be considered healthy for the majority of the population. After following the above for at least 1 month, many of you (depending on any symptoms you experience) should start to see improvements in multiple areas of life including: pain reduction, blood sugar control, weight loss, energy regulation/levels, neurological and cognitive health, hormonal health, and emotional health. That being said, keep in mind that everyone is different and biochemical individuality means that, within this template, there will be a large variability based on a number of factors so everyone may eat slightly different to achieve their own ideal health.
On that note, stay tuned for my next post in this series that will outline some diet and lifestyle considerations that fall within the Healthy Human Diet template but are also specific to the demands of golf and training for golf.
The Barefoot Golfer