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Fitness Friday: Eating to win

February 10, 2011

*Editor's note: Every week my colleague Ron Kaspriske, Golf Digest Fitness Editor, presents Fitness Friday on the Instruction Blog. He gives you an unbeatable health and fitness tip or an exercise or stretch to get your body warmed up for the weekend. This week he focuses on nutrition, specifically how what you eat for breakfast affects your play over the last few holes.

Roger Schiffman**

Managing Editor

Golf Digest*

What are you dumping into your gas tank?

Picture this: You just finished your weekly Saturday morning round. Your mind wanders as you reach into your wallet, once again, to pay off your buddy. You think to yourself, "I played so well for most of the round, I had the match in the bag. What in the world happened on those final five holes?" The answer, for you, never crystallizes.

But I'll tell you exactly what happened. You had a coffee and two donuts on the way to the course and a granola bar at the turn. Whether it's the club championship, a Saturday morning round with your buddies or a quick 18 while your family is roaming some theme park, what you eat for breakfast before you tee it up almost always plays some role in your athletic performance.

"When preparing for anything important, eating clean and balanced is the way to go," says nutritionist Amanda Carlson-Phillips (MS, RD, CSSD), who works at Athletes' Performance training center in Phoenix and spends her days making sure dozens of professional athletes are eating properly.

Trying to get amateur golfers to eat properly is about as easy as babysitting at the Gosselin house. Everywhere you look at a typical golf course there are food items for sale that seem to be solely produced to ensure you make a double bogey on the next three holes. And candy bars, hot dogs and beer aren't the only bad choices. Danish, muffins, bagels, juice, things everyone eats for breakfast, can do just as much damage. If you carbo load with bread items or consume too much sugar, you can count on crashing sometime during the round.

If you skip water and drink only coffee, its diuretic effect will put you on a path to dehydration. At some point, your body will start working against you. You'll lose athletic skill and your ability to concentrate will suffer. It's time to give yourself a fighting chance to win your next match by eating right before you play.

Think about it another way: if your car was low on fuel and you were trying to get to the golf course, I hope you wouldn't pull over and fill it up with gas you purchased from some guy sitting on the back of a pickup truck.

So what do you need for breakfast to play your best?

"Your breakfast should consist of some high-fiber carbohydrates for sustained energy; protein to help balance blood sugar and keep feeling full; healthy fats to trigger the brain that you are full; and plenty of color coming from fruits/veggies for a nutrient/antioxidant boost," Carlson said. And, don't forget to drink plenty of water.

"Twenty ounces is good," she said. "Most people start the day dehydrated from going six to nine hours of sleep without any fluids in their system. And dehydration has been proven to have a huge negative impact on performance." Carlson gives us three examples of a breakfast that is assured to help you win your next round. Take her advice and dig in.

*Ron Kaspriske

Fitness Editor

Golf Digest


Steel-cut oatmeal with berries and walnuts; two scrambled eggs with pepper, onions and tomato; 20 ounces of water


Bowl of high-fiber cereal with berries; Greek yogurt with almonds; 20 ounces of water


Whole-wheat English muffin sandwich with two eggs, slice of cheese; an orange; 20 ounces of water