Best And Worst Things To Eat And Drink Whilst Playing Golf

Want to keep energised and healthy for all 18 holes? Here's what we recommend...

Things To Eat And Drink Whilst Playing Golf
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Want to keep energised and healthy for all 18 holes? Here's what we recommend...

Best And Worst Things To Eat And Drink Whilst Playing Golf

Back in the day performance nutrition and golf probably didn’t go hand in hand.

Many of us may have grown up watching players like Miguel Angel Jimenez smoking cigars and drinking wine.

Now although there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with having a glass of red with the Sunday roast beef after a round, times are changing.

Over the last few years, players like Rory McIIroy, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau have been making the headlines and firmly putting performance nutrition on the global map.

In my opinion, rightly so.

Related: Rory McIlroy's gym routine revealed

It is not uncommon for player to cover distance in excess of 10 km during a round and dependent on the course topography and altitude changes, additional demands can be placed on golfers.

With this in mind, total caloric expenditures whilst carrying a bag have been reported at 1954 kcal, reduced to 1527 kcal for walking with a trolley during a round of golf.

Considering a single round can take between 2.5 and 6 hours (depending on many factors), effective nutrition ensures energetic requirements of play are met and hydration status maintained.

The onset of mental and physical fatigue through inadequate and/or inappropriate dietary practices will have a significant impact on the players ability during performance.

Research shows suboptimal hydration strategies will compromise functional ability.

Golfers who are dehydrated experience impairments in distance, accuracy and distance judgement (i.e., underestimate distances to the pin), compared to golfers who are euhydrated  (Smith, Newell, & Baker, 2012).

If you have ever felt flat or low on energy entering the back 9 then research supports this too.

In particular, blood glucose levels have been shown to decrease and following completion of an 18-hole course, mean blood glucose levels fell on average by 20%, 10% and 30% in young (27 ± 5 years), middle-aged (50 ± 7 years) and older men (75 ± 4 years), respectively (Broman, Johnsson, & Kaijser, 2004).

Taken together then, what would be the better and worst things to eat and drink during a round in an attempt to maintain energy and keep us hydrated.

Better things are going to be food and drinks that maintain energy levels and hydration:

  • Chocolate flavoured milk
  • Malt loaf bread
  • Banana bread / Banana
  • 1 litre of cordial and water
  • Protein bar

Worst things:

  • Chocolate bars
  • Alcohol
  • Sausage rolls
  • Pies

Sometimes a little bit of preparation can go a long way, I personally really like to have a chilled chocolate flavoured milk in the side of the bag with an ice pack wrapped around it.

Combine this with a white chocolate Nutrition-X bar and you will be in a much better place instead of relying on the 8 hours old sausage roll in the warm shelf at the tills.

Related: The best and worst things to eat and drink at the halfway hut

To finish, milk is one of the most undervalued drinks on the market.

Not only has it been shown to be an effective post-exercise rehydration drink (Shirreffs, Watson, & Maughan, 2007), it is full of protein, calcium and is normally cheaper than a bottle of fizzy pop!

Time to visit the dairy section of the supermarket and not the meal deal section!

Dr James Morehen is a performance nutritionist who currently works professional football players across the international squads. He holds a PhD in Performance Nutrition from Liverpool John Moores University where he has built up over 6 years of applied experience working with professional rugby players, professional boxers and formula motorsport drivers. James is a keen recreational golfer himself and enjoys helping other golfers apply the key fundamentals of performance nutrition into their own golf training and performances.