Did you know, that most of your muscle gains and recovery will occur from the quality of your diet and food choices? It’s important to add a workout routine to help you build muscle and improve your golf fitness level, but your diet is also just as crucial.
If you feel like you’ve been working out for months (or years) but not seeing any impactful results, then it is likely tied to your diet and the food choices you make on a weekly basis.
During my time playing competitive golf, I learned the hard way that diet impacts your performance as a golfer.
Below in this guide:
- I will share an example diet for golfers.
- I will also cover the reasons a proper diet is important and how it impacts your golf round from an energy level aspect, which in turn affects your muscle performance during the golf swing, chipping, and putting motions.
- I also give examples of healthy fats, carbs, and proteins and explain what each of those nutrients are if you’re new to learning about nutrition.
My name is Nick Foy, and I teach golfers like you how to improve your score by following a proven Golf Practice System with 3 program levels, as well as tons of drills, videos, and worksheets. Let’s dive into this guide on what to eat as a golfer.
Example Day of Eating for a Golfer
Here’s a sample diet plan suitable for a golfer. Keep in mind that individual nutritional needs may vary, so it’s a good idea to consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist for personalized guidance.
- Breakfast: – Scrambled eggs with spinach and tomatoes – Whole-grain toast – Greek yogurt with mixed berries – Glass of water or herbal tea
- Mid-Morning Snack: – Handful of mixed nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews) – Apple slices with peanut butter – Water
- Lunch: – Grilled chicken salad with mixed greens, cucumbers, bell peppers, and carrots – Quinoa or brown rice – Olive oil and vinegar dressing – Water with a squeeze of lemon
- **Afternoon Snack:** – Carrot and celery sticks with hummus – Small handful of trail mix (dried fruits and nuts) – Water
- Pre-Round Snack: – Banana or a small apple – Whole-grain crackers with cheese – Water
- During Round (Hydration is Key!): – Carry a water bottle and drink regularly to stay hydrated. You can also include electrolyte-rich beverages if needed.
- **Post-Round Snack:** – Protein smoothie with whey or plant-based protein powder, mixed berries, banana, and almond milk – Water
- Dinner: – Grilled salmon with steamed broccoli and quinoa – Mixed salad with a variety of veggies – Water or herbal tea
- Evening Snack (Optional): – Low-fat cottage cheese with sliced peaches or berries – Water
Food Ideas for a Golfer’s Diet
If you’re looking for food ideas of what to include in your diet, this next section will share several ideas broken down into healthy fat options, carb options, and protein options.
Healthy Fat Foods for Energy
Most people are misinformed to think that all fats are bad and that fat is always attributed to obesity. This is not true as your body needs healthy fats for energy and muscle growth especially for golfers who tend to use a lot of energy.
Here some healthy fat foods you should add to your diet to increase the energy levels.
- Coconut oil – This is a great energy source, and you only need three spoons into your diet, and you’re good to go. It has a naturally delicious flavor and is also ideal for cooking.
- Avocado – contains about 14 grams of healthy fat per half fruit. You can add them to a salad or eat straight. Avocados also aid the absorption of nutrients when you eat with veggies or fruits.
- Nuts – These include almonds, macadamia, and walnuts. They are packed with healthy fats and protein fiber and are ideal snacks that you can carry with you when you’re on your daily jog or run.
- Fish oil – Fish oil is full of omega-3s meant for healthy skin and good weight. They are one of the best fats for golfers who need to stay fit.
Healthy Carbs for Extra Energy at the Golf Course
- Brown Rice – Brown rice is a top source of magnesium, a mineral your body uses for more than 300 chemical reactions, like building bones and converting food to energy. Brown rice is loaded with vitamins and minerals as well as fiber and protein to balance the carbs in brown rice. Brown rice can help reduce the chance of diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Bran Flakes – Their whole grains keep your heart in tip-top shape by reducing inflammation and melting away belly fat. Wheat bran is a concentrated source of insoluble fiber and has extensively been studied and found to provide health benefits in terms of prevention of diseases such as colon and breast cancer, obesity, cardiovascular and digestive diseases. If you’re lacking fiber in your diet, consider adding bran flakes.
- Sunflower Seeds – A quarter-cup delivers half your day’s vitamin E, which keeps your heart healthy and fights infection. They also contain significant amounts of magnesium and selenium, which helps calm the nervous system and detoxes your body, helping to prevent cancer.
- Whole-wheat English Muffins – English muffins are one solution if you want to eat sandwiches and avoid using white bread / white buns. The health benefits include a good source of fiber, low calories, and healthy carbohydrates if you’re trying to hit your macro goals.
- Steel Cut Oats – Because steel-cut oats are less processed than traditional oats, they’re digested more slowly, keeping you full all morning long. Steel cut oats could be considered a “power food” because they are an excellent source of protein, soluble and insoluble fiber and select vitamins and minerals.
Healthy Proteins for Body Recovery
You need the high-quality amount of proteins of about 15-25 grams for post-workout recovery. These proteins include;
- Fish – contain micronutrients that are a great source of proteins that aid muscle recovery. They are also high in leucine which is an important tool for rebuilding muscle tissues.
- Eggs – are also an important protein to aid muscle recovery. Each egg contains leucine and vitamin D for absorbing calcium which helps in building strong muscles.
- Plant-based proteins – If you’re a vegan, you don’t need to worry as you can still get essential proteins from beans, lentils or peas. These are high in fiber and ease the breakdown of proteins hence aid muscle repair.
- Chicken – another staple protein you can add to your diet is chicken breasts. Try to aim for skinless to avoid all the fried temptations of how chicken is prepared. Oven roasted or grilled skinless chicken is best!
How Does Golf Nutrition Affect Performance on the Golf Course?
Golf rounds can be long. The body will burn a lot of calories from walking around a golf course and swinging golf clubs at high speeds to hit powerful shots. Let’s consider these 3 main focuses for golf nutrition and why each is important:
- Muscle Function
Hydration is super important. Maintaining proper fluid levels will help you prevent dehydration which comes with side effects of muscle cramping, feeling tired (fatigue), and a loss of mental alertness.
During a round of golf you’ll use lots of fluids and it’s important to focus on consuming additional water and fluids. On hotter days, you’ll burn through fluids even faster from excessive sweating.
Think of hydration as a way to help you avoid getting tired late in your golf round and help you avoid losing focus mentally which can be costly to your golf score.
Food is fuel. It provides your body with energy to perform necessary functions for survival and then you store energy that gets used later during physical activity like running, walking, or in this case, golfing.
It’s important to consume healthy foods that provide healthy fuel. Eating a low quality diet can leave you feeling tired and low energy levels throughout your day at work and on the golf course.
A healthy diet for golfers should include a good mix of fat, carbs, and proteins.
Carbs are what will supply your body with fuel (energy) but again, provide your body with healthy carbs such as complex carbs. These can be foods like whole grains and pastas rather than sugary foods.
Muscle function is the life of your golf game. Every golf swing, chip, or putt, your body is using different muscles.
For these muscles to function properly, a healthy diet is crucial. Avoid cramps and injury by maintaining strong healthy muscles through working out & eating a protein rich diet.
Muscle function also includes post-round recovery when the muscles need to heal and recover. If you get sore often after playing a round of golf, you can improve your recovery process through diet as well as cold therapy and sleep.
We’ve written other guides on golf fitness topics you should check out:
What to Know About Fats, Carbs, and Proteins?
In this section, we’ll cover the different types of fats, carbs, and proteins so you can learn the different between healthy and unhealthy versions of each nutrient group.
Remember, all 3 provide you with calories (energy) but it’s still important to find the right mix of how you source your energy from food, for example, 20% fat, 50% carbs, and 30% protein.
What Are Fats?
Fats are essential nutrients for the normal functioning of the body. They supply the body with energy and allow for the absorption of other nutrients.
One gram of fat contains 9 calories.
Saturated Fats are also sometimes called solid fats because they are solid at room temperature.
Saturated fats are mostly found in animal foods such as meat, meat products, dairy products, poultry skin, cheese, and fish. They are also found in tropical oils such as palm oil, coconut oil, and cocoa butter.
Too much saturated fat in the body raises cholesterol levels. A healthy adult is, therefore, advised to eat NO MORE than 10% of saturated fats in total calories taken.
Saturated fats are sometimes classified as bad fat since they can raise cholesterol levels, but your body still needs them anyway.
These fats are in liquid form and are derived from plants. They are classified as good fat since they lower cholesterol levels and they are divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
- Monounsaturated fats – They are found in avocados, olive oil, nuts, olives, and peanut butter. Their molecules have only one hydrogen atom, and they may help lower LDL cholesterol and keep DHL cholesterol at higher levels.
- Polyunsaturated fats – These are found in vegetable oils such as sunflower, soybeans, safflower, sesame, and corn oils. They are also found in seafood such as salmon. Eating these kinds of fats may lower LDL cholesterol level. Polyunsaturated fats are also divided into omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.
These fats are synthetically made through an industrial process that involves adding hydrogen to vegetable oils.
They are not good for human health and may increase LDL cholesterol level and lower HDL cholesterol hence exposing you to a risk of coronary heart diseases and stroke.
They are mostly used in fast foods and baked foods such as doughnuts, French fries, pizza, biscuits, cookies, pastries among others. Golfers should try as much as possible to stay away from such foods for better health.
What are Carbs?
The main function of carbohydrates is to fuel the central nervous system and energize the working muscles. They prevent proteins from being used to produce energy and allow for the metabolism of fat.
Carbs are also linked to brain functions and decision making which is very important during a golf round.
Carbohydrates should be about 45 to 65 percent of your total calorie intake depending on your body weight, age and how intense your activities are. One gram of carbs contains about 4 calories.
Carbs are categorized into two; simple and complex. The difference between the two is their chemical structure and how sugars are absorbed and digested faster. The types of carbohydrates include:
- Sugars – These are simple carbohydrates which are molecules of simple sugars like glucose, galactose, and fructose. They are also known as a monosaccharide. When two of the molecules join together, they are called disaccharides and include sucrose (table sugar) involving a molecule of glucose and fructose. Another disaccharide is lactose (milk sugar), a molecule of glucose and galactose.
- Starches – These are complex carbohydrates and are polysaccharides. They are composed of long chains of glucose, and your body needs to rapidly break them down to produce energy.
- Fiber – Fibers are found in the cellulose of plant-based foods which include fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes. Fibers are also divided into soluble and insoluble fibers and are not broken down for energy.
What are Proteins?
Proteins are molecules that consist of amino acids called polypeptides. The body cells need these molecules to function.
Proteins regulate the body tissues, cells and organs and all these cannot function without them.
The bones, skin, muscle and various parts of the body contain certain amounts of proteins. They also act as neurotransmitters, e.g., the hemoglobin.
There are three types of proteins namely;
- Complete proteins – which contain all the essential amino acids and are found in animal foods like meat, eggs, and dairy.
- Incomplete proteins – that contain at least one amino acid and are found in plant foods such as beans, peas, and grains.
- Complementary proteins – which involve two or more incomplete proteins combined to supply complete protein. They include rice and beans or bread and peanut butter.
Golfers need protein in their diet to build, strengthen and repair the tissues. Proteins include collagen, insulin, hemoglobin, amylase, etc.
According to the FDA, an adult should consume 50 grams of protein in a 2,000 calorie diet. A golfer should, therefore, consume a higher value to get maximum benefits.
As a golfer, eating high-quality protein such as soy, meat, eggs, fish or dairy after the round of golf or after your workouts will aid the repair and growth of tissues.
Golf Nutrition Plan for the Golf Course
On-course golf nutrition is a subject that gets overlooked by majority of amateur golfers, and even by some professional golfers as well. What you eat at the golf course is very important to ensure that blood sugar levels stay regulated and to prevent fatigue due to dehydration.
On-course golf nutrition also ensures that your body recovers quickly and efficiently for your next round. Recovery is very important if you are playing in a multi-day event.
Drinking 6 beers or a few bloody Mary’s during the course of your round doesn’t count as adequate hydration. Adequate nutrition is one part of on course nutrition, the other part is proper snacking/eating.
Eating a cheeseburger or a hot dog after 9 holes will definitely not help your cause either. Now that we know what not to do, let’s rather look at what is good to for you to eat and drink while out on the golf course.
Staying Hydrated While Golfing – Nutrition Tips
In any sport, and for general health and wellness good hydration is very important. Water is a very good source of nutrition, but when you are engaging in any activity outside in hot temperatures it is very important to replenish some of the minerals that gets lost through perspiration.
The best hydration drink that has stood the test of time is good old H2o. The importance of drinking enough water cannot be overstated.
On average a golfer should drink at least 2 of the 16 oz. bottles of water per 9 holes. It is important to drink water both before, during and after your round.
If you get a sudden thirst out on the course then it is already too late to only want to start drinking water at that point. It is also very important to drink enough water regardless of whether temperatures are high or low outside.
Regular Sports Drinks
In addition to water our bodies need other nutrients and sugars to hydrate our bodies during exercise. Often times long distance runners and endurance athletes will be seen drinking products that are high in sugar such as coca cola.
As golfers we definitely don’t need to down a few cokes out on the golf course, but we do need to take in some sugar.
An easy way to do this is to drink a sports drink in addition to water. But since regular sports drinks are high in sugar it is best to dilute them down with water on a 50/50 ratio.
It is very important to drink this sports drink water combo in high temperatures. I like to buy this Gatorade in Bulk on Amazon to save money
Specialty Sports Drinks
Currently there are many different specialty sports drinks that are available on the market.
Companies such as Amino Vital have sports drinks that are great for hydration and nutrient replenishment. The great thing about these products are that they come in small sachets that are easy to take with you out on the golf course.
In order to mix them you simply add them to a bottle of water and they are ready for consumption. Learn more about Amino Energy for quicker recovery
On Course Snacking/Eating
It is very important to eat while you are out on the golf course in order to maintain consistent energy and blood sugar levels. A few bites of a sandwich every third hole can make the worlds difference to your energy levels and focus during a round of golf.
My go to snack for out on the golf course is a protein bar. It’s easy to grab as you’re heading out the door and it contains a good mix of fat, carbs, and protein.
Not only will it help give you energy during the golf round but protein is great for helping your body recover from the golf round also. Here are my favorite Protein Bars I buy in bulk on Amazon
Peanut Butter Sandwich (Carbohydrate)
Getting some carbohydrates into your system is important for slow releasing energy to maintain energy levels for a long period of time.
A peanut butter sandwich is a good source of both carbohydrates and protein that is easy to nibble on during a round of golf. My favorite Peanut Butter brand
Fruits (Natural Sugars and Minerals)
Natural sugars help to maintain blood sugar and offers a spike in energy when needed. Some fruits also have a lot of good minerals in them, bananas for example are high in potassium.
Potassium is good for your muscles and will keep them loose and prevent cramping along with magnesium.
Nuts/Beef Jerky (Protein)
Proteins repair the body during and after exercise. As a result, it is very important to get some protein into your system during a round of golf to help your body to function optimally.
Nuts and beef jerky that is low in sugar are both good sources of protein to snack on during the round. Save money on Beef Jerky
Remember, proper hydration is crucial for golf performance, so make sure to drink water throughout your round and during meals.
Additionally, focus on nutrient-dense foods that provide sustained energy and support recovery. Adjust portion sizes based on your individual energy needs and activity level.
Below is a summarized breakdown of foods you could eat as a golfer to get the proper fats, proteins and the carbs your body needs for energy, fueling, and repair.
- Fats: Avocados, fatty fish, nuts, coconut oil, eggs, sunflower seeds, olive oil, etc.
- Carbs: Fruits, vegetables, milk products, rice, beans, bread, sweeteners, peas, etc.
- Proteins: Seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, peas, beans, soy nuts, and seeds.
If you have any dietary restrictions or specific goals, consider consulting a registered dietitian to tailor a diet plan to your needs.