Fuel Up With Food for Sports
Jun 21, 2009 - 12:29:43 AM

( - This week let's discuss golf, one of the most popular summer sports. Golf is like all sports, enhanced by fueling up. While golf may not be as intense as tennis or basketball, it requires mental focus, skill, power, and endurance (hopefully for walking all 18 holes!). These components of performance require fuel in our tank, just like our car does before we go for a drive. This is the scientific foundation of my favorite area of nutrition, sport nutrition. Sport nutrition plays an important role in how we feel going into any game, during and after it. It also plays a role in not only how we perform, but how well we will perform the next time we play. Here are some general sport nutrition tips, followed by a few geared toward tee off!

Fuel Up

Start early. This is one of the most important tools of my nutrition program. Starting early means eating breakfast! Eating breakfast, even a small one, even an "on the run" one, starts us with fuel in our tank. In fact, I think breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, yet so many of us skip it. Starting early with some fuel in our tank is good for our health, good for our brain (our brain needs readily available fuel to think and focus), good for our energy (it's still 18 holes even if we ride in a cart), and good for our waistline too (being overweight is not helpful for our back and/or golf swing)! I love to recommend to golfers to choose oatmeal for breakfast when there is enough time (1 1/2 -2 hours to tee off), but a low fat yogurt, a small fruit and water to go do just fine when there is less time before tee off.

Snack along the way. When we eat often we maintain adequate blood sugar levels, which is necessary for our energy requirements and cognitive functioning. Easy to carry snacks can make a difference in our energy and focus, particularly since a golf game take hours to complete. Easy to carry snacks such as a box of mini -raisins, small banana, sport bar, or a low fat trail mix can not only enhance ability to focus and a golf swing, but it can really go a long way to preventing overeating after the game.

Hydrate. Water really is the best sport drink, and it is one of the most important nutrients in sport nutrition. Yes, we've discussed that water is a nutrient and drinking enough of it before, during and after any sport is vital not only for our ability to perform, but later as we go through our day. Once upon a time before I studied nutrition, I attributed fatigue to a lack of food. Not necessarily so I learned, because fatigue can be a symptom of dehydration, even before thirst! So drink up with a minimum 16 ounces of water before tee off, and continue drinking at least 16 ounces every hour especially during hot and humid weather. Be aware that some signs of dehydration are fatigue, heavy legs, and what feels like an elevated heart rate even before thirst kicks in.

Okay, tee off time is 9 AM, here's a sample menu to get you started.

7AM 1 cup of oatmeal, 1/2 cup blueberries with 1-2 hard boiled or well done poached eggs on the side. 16 ounces of water, coffee.

9AM Drink Up! Packed in a cooler with ice, sport water bottles make it easy to sip. Sip all golf game long.

11AM 1/2 sports bar and what else? Water!

1PM Let's make lunch a healthy one because it's time to refuel with a small amount of energy producing complex carbohydrates, and muscle building lean protein. Salads are usually available back at the restaurant or clubhouse, so a salad of greens and fresh seasonal vegetables as a base topped with either a 3 ounce grilled chicken breast or grilled fish; both make a healthy refueling.

Teeing off earlier? Make it a yogurt, small banana, coffee and water. Not used to eating before teeing off? Mix 1/2 sport drink with 1/2 water and start drinking at the first hole (I usually recommend Gatorade).

So, instead of reaching for a high sodium, high saturated fat, nitrate laden tasty hot dog at the half way house (so sorry), snack on some prepacked snacks. You'll not only perform better, manage the added weight so many golfers add on over the years, but your machine, your body, will be healthier for it!

Here's to "Fuel up for Golf"!

June M Lay M.S.
June Fit
Looking to improve your golf swing and performance? The Golfer's Analysis Program at Hospital for Special Surgery's Sports Rehabilitative and Performance Center is designed for golfers of all ages and skill levels with the goal of injury prevention and performance enhancement. For more info contact Greg Fives, PT, MSPT, SCS at 212 606 1005.

Want more info on sports medicine, programs and services? Check our my favorite place for the best specialists,

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