Are Top-Level Golfers Aware Of The Importance Of Staying Hydrated & Do They Check They Are Hydrated?

Special report by Kiran Kanwar.

Are top-level golfers aware of the importance of staying hydrated and do they check whether they are hydrated?

In a well-muscled athlete water can comprise 70% of his/her bodyweight, because muscles are made up of a lot of water. Your blood, brain and muscles all need water.

Water is required by your body to maintain body temperature and normal blood volume. Thus it is vital for golfers, who cannot help but be outdoors for many hours per day, to drink enough fluid to replace all the water lost through sweat, respiration and urine.

Tiger Woods keeping himself hydrated.

Tiger Woods keeping himself hydrated.

How to tell if you are dehydrated (lacking water in the body)? Most typically from the darker color of urine. More correctly by body mass – there should be less than 1% weight-loss when measured early morning after voiding, to show that water intake and loss have been balanced out. One interesting study of college athletes (seefile:///Users/kirankanwar/Downloads/Hydration_Recommendations_for_Sport_2008.6.pdf) revealed that although 66% of college athletes are aware that body mass change helps to reveal the level of hydration, only 15% actually checked their body mass. We all know of golfers who have felt light-headed, dizzy, excessively fatigued or had a headache while playing golf, and all these can be symptoms of dehydration too.

The usual advice is for people to drink about eight 8-ounce glasses of total fluids a day. The actual Adequate Intake (AI) as determined by the Institute of Medicine is 2.2 liters for men and 1.9 for women, which means approximately the same thing.

Fluids need not be just water, but can include fruit and vegetable juices, milk and soups. Tea and coffee count too, but be wary of your caffeine intake – it is said that one should not suddenly change the amount of caffeine the body is used to.

What about sports and energy drinks? It has been shown that prolonged activity requires electrolytes and carbohydrates to make up for the loss and sports drinks typically provide both. However, most studies refer to more strenuous endurance exercise such as marathon running when they refer to ‘prolonged activity’. Sports drinks may contain high levels of sugar and sodium, so an athlete should be aware of how much they require, so as not to involve weight gain or hypertensive issues. Energy drinks can contain caffeine and other stimulants and are best used only under expert guidance.

For endurance sport, it is important to start drinking some fluid well before the event (2-4 hours), continue during the event, and then replace any fluid loss after the event. The precise intakes of water, accompanying carbohydrate calories, and electrolyte content is something that is best worked out with a nutrition specialist, as there is not much research for this aspect among golfers, and also, every golfer will have different requirements.

It is, however, something that will give any serious golfer a bit of an edge over competitors, and in a day when every little advantage helps it is certainly something worth looking into.

Kiran Kanwar

  •   Developer of The Minimalist Golf Swing System -100% scientific, simple and specific
  •   BS (physics, math); MS (sports science, nutrition); PhD (biomechanics – student)
  •   Class A Member: the LPGA, The PGA (GB&I), The NGA of India, The PGA of India

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