As a golfer, it’s crucial to know what’s in your food because every ingredient can have an impact on your performance on the course. The optimal goal is to eat nutrient-dense whole foods that don’t have labels. But, with hectic schedules, travel, long practice hours or late rounds, that’s not always an option. That’s why it’s important to learn how to properly read food labels so you can select healthier alternatives to whole foods without compromising on flavor or adding strokes to your scorecard.
How to Read Food Labels
Reading food labels increases your awareness of what you’re eating, benefits blood sugar levels for more even energy and decreases hazardous ingredients in your diet. Knowing the difference between a birdie label and a bogey one will greatly improve your grocery shopping experience, save time and save you money from filling your cart with junk.
Focus on: Ingredients
Power your performance by looking for labels with minimal ingredients. The less ingredients, the better. Ingredients are listed from most to least abundant. For example, when buying tomato sauce the first ingredient should be tomatoes and not water or some type of sugar. Whole food sources are better than refined. For example, it’s better to choose a date (first ingredient in a LARABAR) than brown rice syrup (first ingredient in a ClifBar). Opt for the highest quality ingredients you can find. Lastly, if there any words you can’t pronounce or that look like a chemistry experiment, then ditch it!
Focus on: Sugar Content
Avoid the sugar shanks by aiming for less than 10, preferably 5, grams of sugar per serving. Unfortunately, processed products contain over 40 different types of refined sugars and artificial sweeteners. Always choose more natural forms of sugar over anything refined, such as fruit over fructose. Avoid any foods labeled “low-fat” or “fat-free” as they tend to have added sugars to make up for the loss of flavor. Sugar-free foods are another bogey option as they contain artificial sweeteners that can contribute to weight gain, headaches and other symptoms you don’t want wrecking your round.
Birdie Food Label
- Less than 5 ingredients listed
- Less than 5 grams of sugar per serving
- Whole food ingredients
Par Food Label
- Less than 10 ingredients listed
- Less than 10 grams of sugar per serving
- Ingredients you can identify and pronounce
Bogey Food Label
- More than 10 ingredients listed
- More than 10 grams of sugar per serving
- Unknown “chemistry experiment” ingredients