Nutrition on course is really quite simple. Control the balance of your blood sugar and insulin levels and you will have consistent performance. If you are one of those people who just wants to be told what to eat then you can jump ahead to the “The Dose & Choices” section. If you want to truly understand how food works and how your choice in foods affects performance then enter “The Science” section below.
When we eat food our blood sugar levels increase. Our body loves equilibrium so it balances rising blood sugar with insulin. Here is the secret to controlling blood sugar. Your body doesn’t know how many calories a food has in it so it relies upon taste! If something tastes sweet your body will send a signal to release high levels of insulin to control the onslaught of sugar that is coming in. You get an initial rush of energy followed by a sugar crash once the insulin takes effect. When your blood sugar levels drop rapidly your brain will send a hunger signal to your brain to get you to eat more food. The bigger the high, the bigger the crash. The bigger the crash, the worse your cravings for sugar becomes. On the other hand, foods that taste bland will cause your body to release less insulin. The key is to eat foods that will give us instant energy and will then continue to slowly release energy till we eat again. Eating healthy foods at regular intervals will keep your blood sugar and insulin levels balanced. The easiest way to control these two opposing forces is to eat foods that are low to moderate on the glycemic index throughout your round. To simply break down the glycemic index you can think of highest glycemic food as table sugar and the lowest end of the spectrum would be eating tree bark. All foods we eat fit somewhere in between these two extremes. You can also pair a moderate to high glycemic food with a low glycemic food to lower the effects of the meal on your blood sugar levels. An example of this would be mixing raisins (High Glycemic) with Almonds (Low Glycemic). Net result: Moderate Glycemic response by the body!
I recommend having 3 snacks in your bag that are consumed just before the first hole, another after the 6th and one final dose after the 12th hole. This will keep the blood sugars level in the optimal zone for the entire round. Mix these snacks with a bottle of water every 6 holes and you are golden. I like to mark my scorecard with fueling and water break reminders so I don’t forget to eat and hydrate every 6 holes.
I also like my players to have a high glycemic snack in their bag for emergency purposes only. What constitutes an emergency situation you ask? If you have 3 holes left and you are drained of energy and need a quick lift you can break open the glass case and eat that Snickers bar. This sugar packed treat will give your brain and body that quick boost of energy you need to finish strong. The problem is that you are guaranteed a crash within 10 minutes of your finish so don’t make it a habit. If you fuel with appropriate snacks throughout your round you won’t feel the need to dip into the emergency snack. Here are your choices for appropriate and effective snacks that you can eat during your round?
Ideally I would like you to have a well balanced snack like a spinach salad covered with grass fed beef steak, avocadoes, tomatoes and an olive oil and lemon dressing but this is an unrealistic meal to carry in your golf bag. You need foods that can resist the heat, do not require refrigeration, easily digestible, and readily accessible. I have taken the time to list options that you can mix and match but please take into account the food pairings as they are created to minimize sugar spikes!
Water 3 bottles minimum (1.5 litres)
Apple & Individually Wrapped Cheddar Cheese
Raisins & Almonds
Hard Boiled Eggs
Banana & Mixed Nuts
Drink a mix of ¾ H2O: ¼ Sports Drink
Peanut Butter & Jam on Whole Grain Bread (PGA Tour Favourite)
Fruit on its own
Sports Drinks (Full Strength)
Fuel well and play well! You play as you eat! Coach Glass