Last week we wrote about eating to keep your brain focused and your body energetic for the entire competitive round of golf. Complex carbs and proteins every few holes will keep you blood sugar level, and your brain and body well focused and tuned.  There is one more ingredient that you need to consider.  From the title of this entry you might think I am going to talk about sports drinks or your favorite beer. While they are tasty, they will not help you compete.  In fact, the sugar in sports drink makes the simple sugars which hit you quickly and then cause a crash in blood sugar.  Your favorite beer will actually dehydrate you.  It is a diuretic. 

This conversation, fellow golfers is about the pros of adequate hydration. I have heard that when you are 2% dehydrated you loose 25% of your mental focus. The problem is that you do not know you are dehydrated, ie you are not thirsty until you are 3% dehydrated.  Think about that, you are 25% less focused and sharp when 2% dehydrated, but you do not even know that you are low on water.  That is a real problem.  By the time you are thirsty it is too late.  

Golfers say to me “but Dave, when I am thirsty I will drink the water, isn’t that good enough?”  Well sadly no. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the signs of dehydration are:

  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • flushed skin
  • heat intolerance
  • light-headedness
  • dark-colored urine
  • dry cough

The best way to beat dehydration is to drink before you get thirsty. If you wait until after you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

The American College of Sports Medicine says: “to avoid dehydration, active people should drink at least 16- 20 ounces of fluid one to two hours before an outdoor activity. After that, you should consume 6 to 12 ounces of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes that you are outside. When you are finished with the activity, you should drink more. How much more? To replace what you have lost: at least another 16 to 24 ounces (2- 3 cups) .”

But Dave, if I drink that much, I will have to stop at every tree or outhouse to pee.  Initially that may be the case.  In a week or two of proper hydration your kidneys and bladder get used to it and will regular you better.

There is a simple rule of thumb that I tell our golfers about. If you drink 50% of your body weight in ounces of water daily that handles your daily needs. As an example, if you weight 180 pounds, then drink 90 ounces of water a day. On your golf days that number goes up to as much as 70% of body weight in ounces. That would be 126 ounces for that same 180 pound person.  That is seven 16 ounce bottles of water.

But Dave, you are talking about water…does that mean I can count sports drinks, coffee, tea and beer towards the total.  The answer is a resounding NO!!! Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, teas, and colas, are not recommended for optimal hydration. These fluids tend to pull water from the body and promote dehydration. Fruit juice and fruit drinks may have too many carbohydrates, too little sodium, and may upset the stomach.

If it is hot and you are sweating heavily, you can add a mineral packet like HyLites electrolytes to your water.  It will give you the needed minerals to maintain electrolyte balance in your body when it is hot and you sweat and it does not have all the sugar of the sports drinks.

If you want mental focus and a high performance body, it needs to be well hydrated…and fed.  You have control over what you put in your body…decide that you want better energy and focus then hydrate well and feed with high quality foods.

I am here if you have any questions.

David Ostrow, PT




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