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How eating the right foods improves your play

Healthy eating before and during a round of golf may be just what you need to take your game to a new level. Take a look at the increasing number of golfers on the tour slimming down, eating healthier, and playing better golf. Here are some healthy guidelines to give your game a boost.

Before a round

Keep this in mind when eating any meal - go for a variety of color. If your plate is made up of foods having the same hue, your nutritional balance is probably off. Especially before a long round of golf, you'll want to choose healthy foods that don't add extra fat or empty calories. Don't have a huge bowl of pasta with a slice of white bread before a match. Instead, eat a side dish of whole wheat pasta or whole grain bread with a small piece of meat, fish, or chicken.

Fruits and vegetables also are good to have before a round. They contain antioxidants, which protect the body's cells from potentially harmful chemical reactions. Also be sure to hydrate by drinking plenty of water.

During a round

Avoid a quick high by skipping the traditional convenience foods like energy bars, sports drinks full of sugar, and salty chips made with unhealthy trans fats. These foods give you a quick high, inevitably followed by an energy crash. As the body releases insulin to combat the sudden elevation of blood sugar, the insulin release makes you feel tired and sluggish. But eating the right foods helps maintain your energy level. When you have snacks during a round, choose natural sources of protein and fat, such as nuts and jerky. You can also have carbohydrates in the form of fruits and whole grains. Instead of a beer or a soda, have water. These are better for you both during and after a round.

After a round

It is highly recommended by athletic professionals that you eat after any type of exercise — preferably within 45 minutes. Golf is no exception. The bottom line is this: When you expend energy by exercising — even while playing golf — you need to consume extra energy to fuel the activity as well as recover from it. Within the first 45 minutes post-exercise, there is a "metabolic window." Enzymes that replenish muscles are at their highest levels. Also, insulin, which rebuilds protein stores, is at peak levels. So eating a carb-and-protein mix (peanut butter sandwich, yogurt with fruit, bagel with cream cheese, or a handful of nuts) at this point will maintain muscle, replenish glycogen stores and reduce the amount of fat your body stores.

While eating healthily won't help you cut your golf handicap overnight, all golfers can benefit from making some changes to their diet on and off the course.