Yurista Permanasari, B.PH, M.Si

08 June 2017

Keeping You Going On The Course

Like any other athlete, a golfer needs the correct nutrition to play optimally. Sufficient, proper nutrition will help to maintain both the physical and mental stamina of the player during a round of golf.

On basic consideration of various sports, golf is similar to walking: the energy needs are almost the same per hour. However, when you consider the time span, four to five hours for an average round, it becomes clear that golf is very different. The longer an activity is carried out for, the greater the amount of energy it requires. Maintaining a consistent performance for a long duration of time is not easy. Golf requires stamina and good or bad food intake can affect this greatly.


For all sports, including golf, the most needed nutrient for the body is carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. Carbohydrates should account for 60-70% of the total energy required by a person, roughly 6-10 grams of carbohydrate per Kilogram of body weight per day.

There are two types of carbohydrates: complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates include rice, yams, bread, potatoes, cassava, and corn. These offer the best source of energy because they are easy to digest and are absorbed slowly.  Simple carbohydrates such as chocolate, syrup, candy, jam, and cake are digested very quickly causing spikes in blood sugar levels and a subsequent crash which can cause a golfer to feel fatigue.

For golfers, it's best to consume a sufficient amount of slow-release carbohydrates prior to a round so that the body’s carbohydrate deposits are not depleted which would decrease endurance and performance.


Fat is the greatest energy-producing substance, providing twice the amount of energy per gram than carbohydrates. However, fat is an uneconomical energy source because fat metabolism uses up more oxygen than carbohydrates. The daily recommended fat intake is only 20-25% of a person’s daily diet and should be from healthy fat sources such as nuts, avocado, coconut oil, and olive oil. Excessive consumption of fats, especially bad fats such as palm oil, corn oil, butter, cheese, ice-cream, and fat found on meat, can cause problems with cholesterol and heart disease.


Protein should make up 10-15% of a balanced diet. Protein is not an energy producer. Proteins act as spare parts of the body and are used for building and repairing damaged or degenerating components and tissues. Protein also plays an essential role in the formation of enzymes, hormones, and antibodies for our immune system.

There are two main types of protein, namely vegetable sources such as tofu, tempeh, and beans, and animal sources like egg, chicken, fish, beef and milk. Both should be consumed in a balanced way because the benefits are complementary. Don’t go overboard though; excessive protein intake can put a strain on the liver and cause frequent urination which increases the risk of dehydration while you are on the golf course.


Vitamins don’t produce energy but are essential to us for their powerful antioxidant properties. Golf makes us consume more oxygen, leading to increased production of free radicals. If the numbers are excessive, these substances can lead to cancer and coronary heart disease. This is where vitamins as antioxidants (vitamin A, C, and E) serve as a barrier to the production of free radical substances. Vitamins are widely present in unprocessed foods that come from animals and vegetables.


Before playing, golfers need to know when to eat. Here are some things you can do to make sure you’ve got enough energy:

  •  Before a morning tee time, avoid high-fat foods and opt for fish, eggs, or lean meats and slow-release carbohydrates such as oatmeal, whole grain rice, and other whole grains instead. These foods can be digested easily by the body so you won’t feel sluggish and will provide sustained steady energy levels. Fruit juice contains a lot of sugar without any fiber so it can cause high blood sugar levels, instead, it’s better to eat a small amount of whole fruit or a some cooked vegetables along with your meal.
  • For an afternoon tee time, 3-4 hours before playing golfers can eat main dishes. Go for lighter snacks, such as a bananas, yogurts, or an apple with some nut butter 2-3 hours before playing. 
  • After playing, the first thing is to quench your thirst with a large glass of cold water. Once you’re re-hydrated, drink tomato or starfruit juice which contains a lot of potassium and sodium. To restore blood sugar levels, the body needs complex carbohydrates. 
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