Nutrition: A Golfer's Competitive Edge?
Tue Apr 28, 2015 by K.C. Craichy
Superfood Nutrition: Golf’s True Competitive Edge
World-class athletes, from Olympic athletes to football players to table tennis, are enhancing their competitive edge by properly fueling their bodies for maximum energy, clarity and muscle recovery. Nutrition is especially important for athletes in any sport where consecutive days of play are part of the competition. Golf certainly fits that description and requires maximum levels of fitness, endurance, focus and recovery. In this article, we'll discuss why nutrition is important to your game and how you can optimize your diet to play your best golf.
The Right Equipment
Oftentimes, the game of golf is played in grueling heat over the course of several hours and days-long tournaments. The physical stamina and mental focus required to perfect each shot is crucial to maintain throughout the course of play. Despite having top-of-the-line equipment and intensive training, professional golfers know too well that winning or losing can depend on a single shot.
Championship performances often depend on obtaining a competitive edge. Unfortunately, the desire for increased energy levels causes golfers to load up on energy bars, drinks and supplements that are often comprised of cheap ingredients, high sugars and stimulants, which actually result in the dreaded crash after only a short peak in energy. Not to mention these same products promise long-lasting energy levels, yet can disrupt a person’s sleep pattern, which further decreases the amount of vital energy available to get through the day.
Golf is a multi-billion dollar industry. It's crazy to think that all of that innovation and invenstment can be derailed by a $0.99 candy bar. What's even more crazy is golfers - especially competitive ones - would allow themselves to be handicapped like that.
Think about it like this: Tournament golfers have the option of carrying 14 clubs in their golf bag during a competition. Likewise, science has identified 50+ essential nutrients that the human body must have in order to function at its peak. A competitive golfer would never tee it up with less than 14 clubs in their bag because they would be at a competitive disadvantage, so why would they want to knowingly play with less than 50 essential nutrients in their diet? .
Since the body cannot produce a single one of these nutrients, each one must be obtained by food sources, dietary supplements and even sunshine. In fact, deficiency in just one of these 50+ nutrients may result in dysfunction and disease. The most powerful and practical way to consistently get everything your body needs to survive and thrive is called “Superfood Nutrition”. Superfood Nutrition is combining the best forms of the known essential nutrients and cofactors with nutrient dense superfoods.
The Four Corners of Superfood Nutrition
Listening to your swing coach is important, but your body can only perform at its best when you get everything your body needs. The Four Corners of Superfood Nutrition is an integrated approach that combines four of the most clinically validated areas of nutrition science including; eating fewer calories while increasing nutrient density, minimizing sugar intake and high glycemic response foods, increasing antioxidants, and getting the right fats.
Eat nutrient-dense foods.
Eat the most highly nutritious and nutrient-dense foods available while eliminating sugar, processed food and junk foods. This will naturally reduce your overall calorie intake while increasing the nutrient value ingested by the body. Include a daily high-quality multi-vitamin/mineral/nutrient/antioxidant formulation for optimal benefits. There are more than 2,000 research studies that suggest this approach alone extends life, delays disease, optimizes weight, improves mental clarity and enhances performance.
Maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Managing your glycemic response by minimizing grains, breads, starches, sugar, which all quickly elevate blood sugar levels setting up the dreaded back nine energy crash. This will also minimize excessive body fat, fatigue and blood sugar imbalances. Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and avoiding the blood sugar and insulin rollercoaster are key to sustained energy.
Consume high-antioxidant superfoods and supplements.
Such items contain high-levels and a wide variety of antioxidants that protect every cell in the body and promote excellent health, vitality, recovery and longevity.
Eat and supplement with superfats.
Essential fats such as omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fatty fish, grass-fed beef, eggs, some nuts and chia seeds and flax seeds are absolutely necessary nutrients for the health of your immune system, heart, skin, endocrine glands, brain function, nervous system and energy levels. EPA/DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid/docosahexaenoic acid) are the omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish and fish oils. The best source for EPA and DHA is cold-water, oily fish including salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines (avoid farm raised fish). Other superfats include almonds, coconut, macadamia nuts, olives and avocados.
Why it Works
There is a growing body of evidence supporting this approach. One clinical research study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (June 2002) suggests that the combination of all 4 Corners of Superfood Nutrition magnifies the positive results of each corner individually causing them to work better together than separate.
It’s widely accepted that a good night’s sleep will offer an advantage well beyond the first tee, but it is equally important to continue to provide the body with good, clean fuel throughout the entire round. Regardless the handicap, golfers at every level should beware of foods and drinks offered on the snack cart. Filling up with soda, sports drinks or candy bars disguised as energy bars can have a negative impact on energy and concentration. Sometimes you'll find these snacks in the most unlikely and inappropriate places, such as a PGA Tour event:
Instead of grabbing a beverage that contains sugar, alcohol or high levels of caffeine, opt for the best sports drink out there: H2O. Adequate hydration is a critical aspect of proper nutrition, but studies have also shown it to be a factor in an accurate approach shot.
Snack carts and clubhouse restaurants generally serve extremely unhealthy, pro-inflammatory “filler” foods such as sandwiches, baked goods, cookies, crackers, donuts, french fries, hot dogs, ice cream, pizza, potato chips, waffles and other processed foods that contain flour and/or sugar and many other impurities. These types of foods are enemies of sustained energy, recovery and performance. According to Dr. Nicholas Perricone, author of The Perricone Promise, such foods actually accelerate the aging process and should be avoided at all costs.
According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (May 2008), researchers at the University of Sydney discovered that a single serving of refined carbohydrates given to a lean, healthy young adult is enough to triple their inflammatory response to the surge in blood glucose. This finding reinforces the notion that high glycemic/refined carbohydrates (such as table sugar, white bread, etc.) have virtually no nutritional value.
If you had a new Porsche GT you would be crazy to fill the fuel tank with really cheap gas or diesel fuel when high test fuel is specified by the manufacturer and might even be put in a mental institution if you filled the tank with soft drinks or sport drinks, so why would your fill up your body, which is far more valuable, with “junk” fuel?
Even more surprising is the fact that athletes comprise one of the fastest growing segments of the malnourished population. Unfortunately, athletes tend to believe that exercise overrides dietary deficiencies and that the consumption of designer sports supplements replaces the need to eat high quality foods or take foundational supplements. Long-term nutrient deficiency is literally silent starvation, resulting in suboptimal performance and shortened athletic careers.
It's encouraging to see young athletes who are committed to finding a competitive advantage in their diet. At just 25 years old, Morgan Hoffmann is one of the best examples of an athlete going to great lengths to ensure proper nutrition. While battling for the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, Morgan was caught eating homemade bison steak and brocolli out of a Tupperware container that he'd brought with him to the course.
"I actually cook my meals the night before and eat on the course," Hoffmann told Golfweek. "Even out here, I have a Tupperware container and cooler in my bag... I just figure it's better than eating candy bars or protein bars."
Hoffmann is trained and mentored by TPI Certified trainer Don Saladino of Drive495 in Manhattan, NY. Saladino helped Hoffmann realize the potential benefits of eating healthier, including the change in on-course eating.
"Morgan and I discussed what to eat while he was playing. We feel it's imperative to spare no expense in getting the highest quality foods into his system all day, every day," said Saladino. "Considering he is in a high-stress environment while playing, eating healthy during the round is an absolute must."
Hoffmann is far from the only healthy golfer on Tour. After struggling with injury for the latter half of 2014, Jason Dufner made changes in his diet and health, losing 20 pounds in the process. Rising star Jason Day is so strict that he told Grantland he only allows himself one or two drinks per year. Ben Crane, a 14 year veteran of the Tour and committed health nut, actually travels with his own juicer so he can make his favorite healthy snacks for he and his friends.
Nobody is going to be perfect (we know nobody can resist that famous burger dog at Olympic Club, Webb), but we can be better.
Instead of relying on the nutritional myth of “carbo-loading” with all kinds of carbohydrates, start the day with a complete and balanced superfood smoothie breakfast. A superfood smoothie is highly digestible, plant-based liquid nutrition with balanced amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fats and the full spectrum of essential nutrients. This includes vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are efficiently delivered into the bloodstream to boost performance, energy, mental clarity and recovery. Maintain that momentum by avoiding junk fuel and eating quality foods including “superfats” (almonds, coconut, chia seed or macadamia nuts) during a round. It is a well known fact in athletics that digestion competes with performance, so consider having a superfood smoothie instead of a burger or deli sandwich at the turn.
The Bottom Line
Golfers now have the ability to gain that intangible, competitive edge both on the course and off by adding the power of nutrition to their game. In addition to increased levels of energy, mental focus and endurance, staying healthy results in longer lasting careers as an athlete.
KC Craichy is the author of “Super Health: 7 Golden Keys to Unlock Lifelong Vitality” and founder of Living Fuel, the leader in Superfood Nutrition. To learn more, visit www.livingfuel.com.