By Karen Harrison, BGGA Director of Health & Athletic Development
ATTENTION STUDENT ATHLETES: Developing sound, healthy eating habits is a critical component to overall health and not surprisingly, optimal sports performance.
How many of you have finished a round of golf feeling fatigued, thirsty, perhaps with an accompanying lack of focus, slow reactions or a feeling of heavy limbs? Did you feel that this negatively affected your performance? And have you ever considered the effect of proper nutrition and hydration during an event that has you walking 7-8 kms/4-5 miles over four to five hours and burning anywhere between 2000-2400 calories?
Proper nutrition and hydration before, during and after your round of golf are as important for optimal performance as your equipment and should be considered a part of your preparation. Like a car, your body won’t go very far without fuel. Meal timing, the balancing of food groups (proteins, carbohydrates and ‘good’ fats) and proper hydration for the conditions, all are vital ingredients in providing for what is essentially an endurance event. And the research is also clear – the consumption of carbohydrates (CHO) and water WILL greatly increase your overall performance. So, don’t forget about them in your preparation!
At BGGA, we have experts on staff who will assist you in how best to navigate the choices you will face on a daily basis and create strategies for healthy eating. Educational sessions throughout the course of the year will help you to further develop these skills. Bring a good dose of self-discipline to the table and together let’s tackle some of the questions and guidelines outlined below
- Develop healthy habits now!
- Make healthy choices for good results everyday
- Variety, moderation and consistency are key
- Eat breakfast!!!!
- Be sure to fuel yourself for the activity or training session to come
- A student-athlete may need to eat every 2-3 hours
- Consider a snack 1-2 hours before fitness training
- Protein consumed immediately post-workout is recommended for gaining lean muscle mass
- Do you know what a balanced meal looks like?
- What are the 3 macronutrients? (i.e. Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats).
- Are you consuming enough protein throughout the day? Especially, important if you are looking to manage weight (loss or gain) and increase muscular strength.
- Carbohydrates – good or bad – e.g. Learning why and how to avoid foods with added sugars (say no to sugary sodas drinks!).
- Learn the difference between good fats vs. bad fats (is fried chicken the healthiest choice on the menu?)
- Be aware of portion sizes; buffets are tempting – it is very easy to overeat. What strategies can assist you to manage this situation?
- Consume adequate energy for your activity level
- Consuming sufficient calories on a daily basis is very important and differs slightly for everyone.
- Increasing lean muscle mass requires sufficient energy intake!
- Nutrition periodization – vary the intake according to your activity level.
- Insufficient energy intake down-regulates metabolism and can have negative health consequences. Therefore, DON’T skip meals.
- Stay hydrated!
- This is essential for performance in the heat and humidity of Florida.
- Becoming severely dehydrated can be life threatening.
- Start the training session/tournament in a hydrated state.
- Learn if there is a place for sports drinks or not.
- Do you use supplements?
- Firstly, we do NOT recommended supplements for anyone under 18 years of age.
- Sports foods/supplements are however commonly used and do include protein powders and vitamins.
- Do your research about any products prior to purchase – ask us to investigate and review.
- Beware, this is not a highly-regulated market. There is a risk of side effects and/or doping, plus supplements are often not necessary and potentially even a waste of money.
Developing good nutritional habits will be the result of an evolution in learning, being self-disciplined, organized and personally taking responsibility for a better outcome. We encourage you to approach proper nutrition with an open and inquiring mind. Prepare for success!