The latest blog post in our guest series with experts in their respective field is Daniel Davey.
Daniel is co-founder of FoodFlicker and a performance nutritionist currently working in professional rugby with Leinster Rugby and elite gaelic football with the Dublin football team.
Daniel, First of all many thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for followers of the blog series! The majority of questions i get from clients regarding nutrition for golf is what to eat on the golf course. I always tell them that the most important part of nutrition for golf is the meal they have leading up to before they go warm up and play. Could you give us some information on whats the best nutrition to have before you go play and how soon should you have it before you are on the first tee. Most golfers will have at least a half hour practice session prior to tee off. Also i get a lot of nutrition queries regarding a players tee off time(early/late etc.) Should they have a big breakfast before they go play? Should they have a big lunch before the afternoon round?
When it comes to the benefits of nutrition what really matters is your long-term daily habits and how you are meeting your specific health and performance nutrition needs over time. Closer to your practice round or competition, nutrition is something that must be considered in phases. There is the preparation phase, the performance phase and the recovery phase after you play the round. The preparation phase will mainly focus on the 24-36 hour period before the round where there is a moderate increase in energy intake and a close monitoring of hydration by following the weight, thirst, urine colour (WTU index). The performance phase will include the foods / fluids you eat on course during competition to maintain energy levels and hydration, which, we will deal with later.
Golf is different to most other sports due to the length of a round and the high demands for intense focus and concentration, in short intervals over a 4-5 hour period. In the preparation phase it is hugely important to eat a meal that is slow digesting, avoids any stomach distress and maintains energy levels over a 2-3 hour time frame. Unlike high intensity team sports where athletes must eat a large meal at least 3-4 hours in advance of kick-off, golfers can have a large meal within 2 hours of tee time without suffering stomach upset in the onset of beginning the round.
The foods that people eat are individual to them, some people may like a warm meal such as cooked porridge with banana and milk, eggs and brown toast, or sweet potato and chicken while others may prefer a quinoa chicken salad or brown bread sandwiches with soup. Each of those meals will provide the body with a slow release of energy while avoiding any stomach upset and dips in energy throughout the performance. If you have an early morning round it’s important to have something pre-prepared for breakfast the night before. Overnight oats, a breakfast smoothie or a Bircher muesli are good options as they are slow digesting and have a decent source of protein.
What foods should the golfer be eating on the course and how often. Depending on how long they are out there a golfer can burn well over a thousand calories over a four to five hour round.
The guidelines for on course nutrition are to eat something every 3-4 holes that is easy to digest, low in fibre and palatable. Suitable foods include dried fruit, nuts, seeds, homemade granola bars, fruit, homemade protein energy bars. Smaller amounts of practical non-sticky dry foods will work best as they are easy to store and won’t go soggy in your golf bag. I generally advise the golfers I work with to make their own homemade snacks, firstly because they are in control of what they are eating and also they are generally higher quality and more nutritious than off-shelf products. The routine of making homemade snacks is also good mental preparation for athletes as it helps them get into a focused mind-set for competition.
Even though its March and still pretty much winter here in Ireland most golfers won’t drink enough water on the course. Also some of our readers and professionals will be playing in Super Hot conditions over the coming months. What are your hydration recommendations for golfers who are on the golf course for 4-5 hours in cool and hot conditions.
Hydration is one of the areas I believe could offer the greatest benefits to golfer’s performance. There are a number of approaches a golfer can take to their hydration depending on conditions and if it’s a practice round or tournament. Water is usually fine for a practice round if consumed in sufficient amounts and if the conditions are temperate. However, if it’s warm or if you are playing a 2-4 day competition then an electrolyte drink is advisable. Using hydration (electrolyte) tablets with water is one practical way of creating your own electrolyte drink. Fluid intake in the heat must be significantly increased compared to mild or cold conditions. Recommendations will vary depending on body size and sweat rates but aim to consume 200 -300 mL of an electrolyte solution every 15 minutes in the heat. If you are sweating profusely then fluid intake may need to be even higher. If you would like to read more on the importance of hydration and hydration strategies for performance click
What are your best nutritional tips for helping the golfer recover after a round. Also on another note here in Ireland our amateur championships and scratch cups have 36 holes in one day so players are required to fuel up between rounds and sometimes very quickly! Any tips to help a player fuel up fast while stay alert and avoid an energy slump at the start of their second round.
The type of food and the timing of your recovery meal are the main considerations when it comes to rapid recovery after an intense round of golf. The primary focus is rehydration and replenishing depleted energy levels with a suitable slow digesting and balanced carbohydrate, protein and fat meal. In the first phase of recovery something like a fruit smoothie is a good option while a nutritious meal like salmon, potato and roast vegetables is good for the second phase of recovery. That will help the body and mind to heal and regenerate after a long intense round.
A lot of golfers will have some early tee times this coming season and unless you are on the PGA Tour a hot breakfast at away events can be hard to get! What would you recommend for golfers to purchase the night before so they can have some breakfast at 5.30am before their 7am tee time?
Oats, nuts, seeds, yogurt and whey protein are all very easy to carry when travelling and can make up the basis of a nutritious breakfast or snack. All you need to buy on the road is fresh fruit and maybe some fresh milk which will make up a breakfast smoothie or an overnight protein oats. Hydration before an early round is also a vital area for consideration as you are more likely to begin the round dehydrated if you haven’t consumed sufficient fluids with breakfast
Keep an eye out for Part Two which will be posted in a few days.
You can find Daniel and find more articles and recipes ideas here: