Golf Nutrition: The Highs and Lows of High-Carb and Low-Carb Diets


 Golf Nutrition: The Highs and Lows of High-Carb and Low-Carb Diets


Whether amateur or pro, you need to mind your diet while playing golf, as this keeps you fit and provides you with the energy to sustain you throughout your game. It is often prescribed that one should have a high-carbohydrate, moderate-protein and minimal-fat diet for optimal results. However, in reality, there is no cut-and-dried “right answer” to the question of whether you should have a low or a high carb diet.


What are the advantages and disadvantages of having either a high-carb or low-carb diet? Read on to get some key points for each diet, with the markers (+) and (-) for the pros and cons, respectively:


  • (+HIGH) Jumpstart your game with carbs.

Though people are wary about carbs when dieting, their main contribution to the body is to provide energy. There are many forms of carbohydrates; however, complex carbohydrates (e.g. Polysaccharides, starches, fibers) should be consumed because they provide key nutrients and long-term energy, as opposed to simple carbs that only provide quick energy bursts which are not suitable for golf.


  • (+HIGH) Carbs speed up recovery from exercise.

For competitive golf, practice and training are essential to perfect your form and swings. Carbs replace your muscle glycogen stores – the ones that power your body for long periods of practicing and playing.


  • (-HIGH) Regular consumption of carbohydrate-rich food could pose health hazards.

Though carbs are crucial in one’s golf nutrition diet, it could also increase some health risks. For example, this diet might be dangerous to players who:

1. are insulin-resistant

2. have marked coronary disease

3. may develop Type-2 diabetes mellitus through carbs and sugary sports drink consumption.

Have a general check-up on a regular basis to avoid further complications.


  • (-HIGH) A high-carb diet promotes weight gain.

There is a legitimate reason why people fear carbs: weight gain. In a high carb diet, 60% of the calories come from sugars, and not burning enough of this will definitely make your worst fears come true. The balance between eating and exercise is the key to avoid this horror.


  • (+LOW) Regular consumers of low-carb food may get the extraordinary ability to produce energy at very high rates.

Some studies on athletes arrived at this conclusion and found a reason for this: the energy bursts came from just pure fat oxidation. However, this comes with a disclaimer – this applies to athletes who are fully adapted to a fat-rich diet and who can oxidise fat at 1.5 g/min covering his/her energy costs without needing to ingest exogenous fuels such as carbs.


  • (+LOW) Low carbs mean lower risks of cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

One study shows how curbing your carbs can promote the reduction of C-reactive protein (CRP) in blood. This is a known inflammation marker and is identified with CVDs such as coronary, peripheral and carotid artery disease.


  • (-LOW) Low-carb dieting can zap your energy out.

This tends to be the almost-immediate effect of minimum carbohydrate intake. Ketosis, which is a known low-carb-diet side effect, is a process of producing ketones when we metabolise fat. Excessive production of these promotes sodium and water loss, and can therefore cause fatigue and low levels of energy. Imagine what this will do to your swing faults and power plays!


  • (-LOW) Curbing carbs can weaken bones.

Golf is also about being in tiptop shape and having good form. Unfortunately, for people going on a low-carb, high-protein diet, there is a risk of getting osteoporosis — why is this so? People who tend to eat excessive protein in favor of carbs also tend to excrete more calcium in the urine. Thus, it pays to keep the ratio of your protein and carb intake in check.


Though different in approach, both have the same end goal: to complement your golf lifestyle. Before you pick one over the other, carefully consider each point and choose which fits your body type and condition.


For more golf nutrition tips, visit Tina Fusser’s Nutrition Corner found on the Kai Fitness website.


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