Golf Nutrition 101: Everything You Need to KNOW [in 2020]

This is a SUPER detailed tutorial on Golf Nutrition.

In this new tutorial you’ll learn:

  • The impact nutrition has on your golf performance.
  • The 411 on macros and why they matter in your golf nutrition and performance on the course.

In addition, you will learn step-by-step:

  • How to create a custom golf nutrition plan.
  • Finally, we give you a sample golf nutrition plan.

Let’s dive right in.

Golf Nutrition Post

Contents

Chapter 1 The impact nutrition has on golf performance

Chapter 1

The impact nutrition has on your golf performance

Macros What are they and why they matter in your nutrition on the golf course.

Chapter 2

Macros: What are they and why they matter in your nutrition on the golf course.

Create a meal Plan

Chapter 3

How to create a custom golf nutrition plan.

Bonus Sample Golf Nutrition Plan

Bonus

A sample golf nutrition plan

Chapter 1

The impact nutrition has on your performance in golf.

First, we need to talk about some fundamentals of proper nutrition as well as dispel some notions out there. This all has an impact on how you perform on the golf course. 

Let’ go!

Chapter 1 The impact nutrition has on golf performance

Many times when we begin with an online client at Signum Golf, not only are they looking to perform better on the course.

They also want to build some lean muscle and even get some of the aesthetic benefits that come with hitting the gym more. 

Exercise is key but there comes a point of diminishing returns from working out in the gym if you aren’t also paying attention to your nutrition. 

It’s like buying a Ferrari but putting 87 Octane in that pony!

Nutrition for golf is a neglected facet in the game and here is why:

  • It’s a sport that is often played where alcohol is involved.
  • You literally have a cart that travels around the course delivering junk food and booze. 
  • Your average golfer is not out there to eat healthily. They are out there to just have fun with friends. 

Trust me I get it! And I do all those things from time to time. 

But this is a post about performing on the course, shooting lower scores, and the role nutrition has in that equation.

If you are reading this post, chances are you are looking to gain an edge.

From an outsider’s perspective, golf isn’t as intense as say:

  • Soccer
  • Football
  • Tennis
  • Baseball
  • Basketball

But, it is a physical activity and what you put in is what you get out.

And although it may not feel as intense as other sports your heart rate may beg to differ, especially in a competitive environment.

Interestingly enough, my Whoop Band shows that my heart rate gets as high as 120bpm vs. a workout peak of around 160bpm.

(or maybe I am just a nervous wreck.)

Golf Heart Rate

Let’s briefly discuss some basics of golf performance and nutrition.

There is something that is called a Glycemic Index (GI):

It is an index that ranks how much your blood sugar level will spike when consuming food.

Here’s the deal: 

It really is affected by the different types of carbohydrates you consume on (and off) the course. 

We can categorize most carbs as Low, Medium, or High on the GI index: 

  • Low has a GI rating of 55 or less
  • Medium is in between 56–69
  • And High is 70 or more

Here is what happens when you consume high GI food:

 

How energy is created from carbs on the golf course

That crash people often feel after consuming a ton of pasta is just your body working in overdrive to perform the process depicted above. That’s why a large meal makes you want to take a nap

High vs. low glycemic foods on the golf course

The same can be said of snacks found on the golf course that are highly refined and loaded up with carbs and sugar. 

You may be asking:

What about protein and fat?

Dont worry, we will talk about that in the next chapter. 

Let’s talk about the role of hydration on the golf course. 

Here is the simple truth:

You need to drink more water!

Most human beings should aim to drink at least 80 ounces of water per day. 

Just like food, hydration has a direct impact on your performance on the golf course.

The Impact of water and Hydration in Golf

To drink more water on the course here are some tips:

  • Carry a water bottle.
  • If it is hot out, bring a second one mostly filled with ice. 
  • Make sure the water bottle has a straw. It’s easier to drink.
  • If you want to add some fruit to flavor it up that’s fine but dont add those “electrolyte” powder crap. It’s mostly that…crap.

And here is the low down on most “sports” drinks…they are just sugar bombs plain and simple.

Gatorade Nutrition Facts

You gotta be careful when it comes to sugar and its substitutes in your golf nutrition plan because sugar can go by many names.

56 Names for Sugar

So at the end of the day just stick to water! Period.

I am going to end this chapter with a bit of advice to the wise.

Please be aware of “influencers” in the golf nutrition world!

For example, Bryson DeChambeau has obviously been making waves in the golf world for his diet and workout routine that has helped him add size, speed, and distance. 

But before you think about copying anyone you need to do some research. 

Take for example the 7 protein shakes and dozens of protein bars he eats during the course of a day

It seems to be that he has sponsorship from Orgain, the protein shake company.

But further examination would show that there is a lot of added sugar (11g) and when you multiply that by the 7 per day he consumes.

It is WAY too much!

Orgain Protein Shakes Nutrition Label with Sugar

In fact the American Heart Association recommends men only consume about 36g per day vs. Bryson’s 77g!

The same holds true for many protein bars out there on the market. 

They add a bunch of sugar & sugar substitutes to make them taste good. 

For example, the nutrition label below is from the dozens of GoMacro bars he consumes throughout the. 

Loaded up with MORE sugar & its substitutes

Go Macro Nutrition Label with Sugar

Three more thing I want to point out. (I am going to breakdown his diet in a later post)

One, Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, no dietary supplements, including protein powders, are regulated by the FDA to make sure they are safe or effective.

Two, there is no requirement that supplements be tested to make sure they contain what the labels say they contain.

Third, there is a limit on how much protein the body can absorb in one sitting.

Below is a picture of Bryson’s Breakfast

Bryson DeChambeau Breakfast

Too much protein over the long run can put a lot of strain on the kidneys…but what do I know…he won a U.S. Open and I write blog posts?

Chapter 2

Macros: What are they and why they matter in your nutrition on the golf course.

In this chapter, we will get into the weeds of golf nutrition. We will educate you on the role of macros, what they are, what they do, and how they affect your performance on and off the course.

Let’s begin

Macros What are they and why they matter in your nutrition on the golf course.

The Role of Protein in Golf Nutrition Plans

Protein is often thought of as “the good macronutrient” (macro for short).

Most people don’t get enough of it. 

I would say it’s not the “good macro” the others aren’t bad per se when used in proper proportion.

But more on that later. 

Here is the low down of what protein does:

  • It provides our body’s structure,
  • regulates body function, components of enzymes, immune system
  • and aids hormone regulation. 

Not all protein is created equal, for most you want to sway towards lean proteins that are found in fish, chicken turkey, leaner types of pork, eggs, some cheeses, etc. 

Red meat, bacon, most other cheeses, dairy, high fat pork such as ribs, etc are higher in fat and have a large amount of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), which is no beuno in the long run. 

As a baseline, for most golfers, I would start off with protein consumption of about 30% of your calorie intake.

More on that later.

Role of Fat

Because of its name, fat gets a bad wrap.

But here is the deal with “fat” that still is ingrained in the American psyche.

Many of which are just plain WRONG!

 

  • 50 years ago, American senators became concerned with the rise in heart attacks from smoking and the American diet.
  • They had hearings and at the time a Harvard guru said it was related to the increased consumption of high-fat foods.
  • The hearings led to the first publication of dietary guidelines.
  • Those guidelines labeled all fat as bad.
  • This steered people to replace fat with carbohydrates. 
  • And because of demand, food producers reduced the amount of fat in foods.
  • But food still has to taste good (duh).
  • So they supplemented it with sugar and sugar substitutes. 

Makes ya think huh?

Now, the American public is wising up to the effects of sugar. 

We know more now and here is the deal with fat:

  • It is a vital component of our cell membranes especially in the brain and nervous system.
  • It is used in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins.
  • We use it as a storage and source of energy.
  • LDL fats are bad and HDL fats are the good ones. So read those nutrition labels. 

As a baseline, we recommend starting with about 30% of your caloric intake compromising fat. 

But not all fat is created equal.

Stick to fat sources from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oils, and butter.

Avoid fats that come with fried foods, baked goods, and junk food.

Fats are good because they are a dense source of calories and will leave you feeling full.

The Role of Carbohydrates (Carbs) in Golf Nutrition

Despite all the low carb fads such as Atkins (re-incarnated as Keto) these days, CARBS ARE NOT BAD!

It is processed carbs we want to avoid.

Carbs do the following for your body on the golf course:

  • They remain your body’s main source of fuel on the course.
  • They spare protein from being used as energy and aids in oxidation (breakdown) of body fat.

Gravitate to carbs that are low in sugar and high in fiber.

They produce less of an insulin spike and all the bad stuff discussed in Chapter 1. 

This means, eat vegetables, some fruits, and whole grains.

You want to have a higher amount of non-starchy carbs such as broccoli, carrots, green beans, asparagus, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, etc.

As a guiding principle, shop the perimeters of the grocery store and avoid a lot of the boxed items in the middle aisles. 

Carbohydrates should comprise about 40% of our golf nutrition plan.

I made the following guides for you broken down by the 3 major macros.

(The food in green is great. Avoid the ones in red and consume the foods in yellow in moderation.)

Golf Nutrition Carb Option Guide
Golf Nutrition Protein Option Guide
Golf Nutrition Healthy Fat Option Guide

Chapter 3

How to create a custom golf nutrition plan.

Now it is time to put all this into action and show you how to create a golf nutrition plan.

I will show you how to build a healthy balanced meal.

And then I will show you some healthy balanced snacks for the course and how to plan for your round on the course.

Let’s dive in.

Create a meal Plan

At Signum Golf I recommend the following as a starting point;

  • 40% of your calories from carbs
  • 30% protein,
  • and 30% coming from fat.

Once you establish that as your baseline then you can:

  • tweak the proportions 
  • see how you feel and perform
  • then adjust. 

The first thing needed is to calculate the number of servings of each macronutrient needed in a day. 

This varies on a person by person basis. 

To make it simple we will use two different methods to find a range. 

You will find the first method tends to be a little low on the calorie count. 

And the second method will be a bit high. 

 

Constructing your Golf Nutrition Plan, Method #1 – The Body Fat Percentage Approach

This approach is more involved because you will need to know your body composition numbers such as:

  • Activity factor
  • Bodyweight,
  • Lean muscle mass, 
  • And body fat percentage. 

This approach would be good for someone that loves data. Loves a trackman, knows their spin rates, knows their launch angles, angle of attack, etc.

Let’s begin.

The first thing we need to calculate is your body fat percentage.

You will need a biometric machine such as a DEXA scan or Inbody machine. 

With a simple google search, you should be able to find one in your area.

They can usually be found at local gyms, nutritionist/dietitian offices, and other wellness and fitness centers.  

Omron and Inbody also have some cheaper handheld versions 

If you know your weight and body fat percentage (BF%) we can then determine the total servings of carbs, proteins, and fats you should include in your golf nutrition plan.

So using myself as an example we have:

  • a 170lbs person
  • that has 9% body fat
  • Therefore, my lean body mass is 155 pounds [170 x (1-9%)].
Golf Nutrition Plan Serving Calculation

Next, we need to apply an activity factor. As a guide, we included an activity factor chart below to give you a frame of reference.

Golf Nutrition Plan Activity Factor

I use an activity factor of about 1.10x (higher than the table’s range) because I exercise 4x a week as well as walk a round of golf carrying my bag (I’m old school).

Next, we multiply the activity factor by lean body mass to get the total number of grams of protein per day this person will consume.

In our case, it is 170 grams or (155lbs x 1.10 activity factor).

Next, we divide 170 by 7 to get a total of 24 servings of protein in a day. 

The final step is to calculate the total servings of carbohydrates and fat as well.

And it’s simple. 

It’s the same as protein! So 24 servings

Therefore, I need to consume:

  • 24 servings of protein,
  • 24 servings of carbohydrates and
  • 24 servings of fat in a day!

To go down the rabbit hole further so you can see the 40% carb, 30% protein and 30% fat breakdown:

  • 1 serving of carbs is 9 grams,
  • 1 serving of protein is 7 grams,
  • and 1 serving of fat is 3 grams.

Therefore, in this example, i will be consuming:

  • 216 grams (24 x 9) of carbs
  • 168 grams (24 x 7) of protein
  • Finally 72 grams (24 x 3) of fat.

And to confuse further, protein and carbs both contain 4 calories per gram, whereas fat contains 9 calories per gram. 

So here is the daily calorie breakdown:

  • 864 calories of carbs (216 grams x 4 calories/gram)
  • 672 calories of protein (168 grams x 4 calories/gram)
  • 648 calories of fat (72 x 9 calories/gram)

It is a total calorie intake of 2,184.

Low and behold the calorie intake is split at 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein & 30% fat!

Got all that?

It’s ok.

It’s probably harder to calculate than strokes gained.

Constructing your Golf Nutrition Plan, Method #2 – Using a Macro Calculator

If you don’t want to go through all that math, just try a calculator that does it for you.

THIS ONE from Precision Nutrition is great!

Using the calculator it would spit out the following goals for me:

  • Caloric intake of 2,593
  • 194g of protein per day
  • 86g of fat per day
  • 259g of carbohydrate per day

 

This method tends to be a little on the high side. But no worries

My advice to anyone trying to DIY their golf nutrition plan is to use a macro calculator as a baseline tool and maybe haircut it a little

If you use the calculator method we will need to reverse engineer the approach to get to the number of servings per day and per meal.

Recall from earlier that there are:

  • 9 grams of carbs are in one serving
  • 7 grams of protein are in one serving and
  • 3 grams of fat are in one serving

Therefore that would equate to:

  • 27 servings of carbs (259 divided by 7)
  • 27 servings of protein (194 divided by 7)
  • 27 servings of fat (86 divided by 3)

P.S. there may be some rounding errors in there.

A word of advice when it comes to macros, calorie intake, and your golf nutrition program

It’s like hitting a tee shot in golf.

You dont need to be down the middle every single time.

Just get it in play and if you hit the fairway that’s awesome. 

I say this because I see people obsess over their macro breakdown, their calorie intact, etc. 

A bit of OCD comes into play.

When in fact what they are doing with their golf nutrition is 90%-95% correct. Imagine that, 90%-95% of your shots on the golf course can going the way you plan.

Timing of Meals for your Golf Nutrition Plan. 

The next step to creating your golf nutrition program is to time out your meals. 

As a general rule, you want to strive to consume something every 2-3 hours.

This can be daunting at first but what we are trying to do is:

  • make sure your metabolism stays high
  • Avoid any crash or drain of energy levels on the golf course (especially later in the round)
  • This will help you recover faster after a round by reducing prolonged muscle soreness and inflammation.
  • Improves your mental cognition, especially late in a round of golf

As a starting point I recommend:

5-6 meals throughout the day.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be where the majority of your servings lie.

And you will throw in 2-3 snacks throughout the day. 

So using the 24 serving example. 

  • Breakfast – 6 serving meal
  • AM Snack – 3 serving meal
  • Lunch – 6 serving meal
  • PM Snack – 3 serving meal
  • Dinner – 6 serving meal

This adds up to 24. 

But let’s say 6 servings on the golf course is a bit much then you can also add in another snack. That would look like the following:

  • Breakfast – 6 serving meal
  • AM Snack 1 – 3 servings 
  • AM Snack 2 – 3 servings 
  • Late Lunch – 4 serving meal
  • PM Snack – 2 serving meal
  • Dinner – 6 serving meal

We added another AM snack and made the lunch a bit later but they still sum up to 24 servings.

Constructing a meal for your golf nutrition plan.

Now that we know:

  1. How many servings per day
  2. When you should space out the time of meals in your golf nutrition plan
  3. As well as how many servings each meal should have

It is time to actually construct a meal/snack. 

Break out the calculator. I would also recommend a FREE MyFitnessPal account

To do this, recall that:

  • 1 serving of carbohydrates = 9g
  • 1 serving of protein = 7g
  • 1 serving of fat = 3g

In this example, I am going to construct a 3 serving snack. 

That would include:

  • 27 grams of carbs (9g x 3 servings)
  • 21 grams of protein (7g x 3 servings)
  • 9g of fat (3g x 3 servings)

To see it in action using my fitness pal see the video below:

So when you are building out your nutrition plan keep the following in mind:

  • You dont have to get the EXACT breakdown for proteins, carbs anf fat in each meal. Just get in the ballpark and you will be fine. 
  • Try to include at least 2 servings of vegetables a day. 
  • Above all else be patient with the process. 

Something to keep in mind on days when you are playing golf.

Bonus

A sample golf nutrition plan

As an added bonus I have included a sample golf nutrition plan you can download for FREE!

Bonus Sample Golf Nutrition Plan
Golf Meal Plan
Enter your info below to receive a FREE copy of this sample meal plan

The following meal plan is used as an example. Before starting any nutrition program you should contact a Registered Dietician or Nutritionist.

Wow! That was a long and complicated post! What questions do you have? How can we make it better? Drop me a comment below!