An integral part of golf fitness is food and nutrition: we are what we eat! Studies estimate that your burn approximately 1500 calories during a 4 hour round of 18 holes, walking and carrying your clubs. If you take a golf buggy the calorie burn rate is approximately half, around 800 calories.
If, like me, after 4 hours on the course you feel like to some food such as a burger and fries washed down with a beer then you have just taken in as many calories as you burned (cheeseburger, medium fries with ketchup equals around 1250 calories and a pint of beer is around 200 calories). Add to that anything eaten out on the course and you leave the course after 4 hours ‘exercise’ having taken on more calories than you burned!
To improve golf fitness there is a need to address diet. I am not a believer in strict diets. You could line every golf course in Scotland from the first tee to the 18th green with all the diet books that have been published. I’ve seen so many people make a ommitment to a strict diet, go in with great intentions and after a few days or weeks the enthusiasm waivers, they to go back to their old habits and pile on the weight to increase levels. I am looking for small adjustments to move to a healthier diet. For me, it is more about changing habits, as outlined in the New York Times Bestseller ‘The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business’ by Charles Duhigg. In his book, Duhigg outlines some key tips on how to change habits.
On diet he cites a study done in 2009 by the National Institute of Health in which they took an alternative approach. They asked 1600 obese people to write down what they ate at least one day a week. The participants were not asked to change their diet or start any new fitness regime. Over time, the participants made their entries. By looking at their journals, participants would recognise their own diet and habits. Then they started to change their habits. As an example, some would snack at a certain time each day on unhealthy treats. Recognising this, they would make sure they had fruit to hand to meet the eating urge. Others decided to plan their meals differently, substituting their regular unhealthy meals with planned healthier choices. By asking them to write their food diary (remember, just one day a week or more) changed their entire eating habits. The result? After 6 months people who kept the food journal lost double the weight as other who didn’t. I believe small adjustments can have a big impact.
After a bit of research on golf nutrition this week I will try the following going forward:
- Adjust diet. Be more aware of what is healthy nutritional food and aim to cut out unhealthy food options for some days during the week. This short video clip from the Golf Fitness Academy gives some good insight. See from 6mins 40secs to 10mins 40secs. Link
- Quantity: reduce the quantity eaten. In the daily rush of everything, tasting the food is sometimes secondary to shovelling the ‘fuel’ down my throat. It takes approximately 20 minutes for food to hit your stomach and for your brain to register the food intake. By this time my plate is normally cleared and in the dishwasher.
- Food journal: one day a week or more to write what I eat. Surely the national Institute of Health study from 2009 is worth to try. If you want to do similar there is a free online service for this at My Fitness Pal where you can electronically write up your food journal and it will even calculate your calorie intake (Link).
Apart from researching the above this week, I have started to do golf fitness exercises every second day for 15-20 minutes. I have have tried some of these basic exercises covering flexibility, balance and strength. I can see and feel I am far away from where those focusing on fitness are! This is going to take some time to get to the level of the guys in these videos after having spent most of my time this week wobbling, falling over and finding muscles that I didn’t know existed. Here are 2 videos I found most useful (I could only do bits of them!):
- Adam Scott at the Golf Fitness Academy: Link
- Fitness Blender Strength, Balance & Flexibility Exercises for Golfers (tough but worth starting on): Link