by SHAWN MEHRING
With the ever changing competitiveness in the sport of golf, an athlete must have the right nutritional foundation in order to achieve optimal performance. An athlete must know what type of nutrients they need to consume before, during, and after training, practice, or competition. Listening to your coaches and trainers is important, but if you do not take care of your body the way you take care of your swing, it could hinder your performance and produce adverse effects.
When competing an athlete will pretty much do anything they can to gain an edge over their opponent. Nutritionally a golfer will try to out their opponent by having more energy. This will lead to the athlete loading up on energy bars, drinks and supplements that have cheap/synthetic nutrients, high sugar concentrations, and stimulants (like caffeine). This, if not always, usually leads to the dreaded crash after a short duration of high energy levels. A sugar crash can cause an athlete to have confusion and difficulty concentrating on daily tasks, hunger, irritability, headaches, fatigue, lethargy, and anxiety. All of these are detrimental for an athlete and are usually the main items that are trying to avoid. Also, having sugar the night before a round can lead to restless sleep and can cause the athlete to be sluggish in the morning.
Don’t think that since you are in the midst of competition, that it is unacceptable to eat. Food is fuel for the body and needs to be treated as such. Not eating for 4-5 hours will leave the body malnourished (not eating the appropriate amount calories and nutrients to provide maintenance and recovery for the body). One of the main symptoms of malnutrition is fatigue and the main indicator of malnutrition is a poor diet. If an athlete does not consume enough calories for their body to perform, preserve, and recover, their diet needs to be re-evaluated.
Since you are an athlete and may have a high energy expenditure throughout training and competition, do not think that overeating will give you a competitive edge. Since you are an athlete, you do need to consume more nutrients than the average male or female, which will be shown below, but eating too much could cause high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, sleep apnea, depression, bone deterioration, or stroke which could all have dramatic negative effects in your performance.
What does a balanced diet, which improves performance, look like? The flowing will describe types of foods to eat, macronutrient daily percentages for athletes, and a “6-hole nutrition plan” developed by sports nutritionist Matt Jones featured in Golf Digest.
The current ways junior golfers are being trained puts more of an emphasis on moving the body with efficiency and speed paired with strength and power. In order for the athletes to be able to achieve optimal performance, they need to have a foundation in nutrition. Every athlete is different in how their body reacts to training, nutrients, stress, and determination but the above information can be applied to all athletes in order to achieve optimal performance.
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