Carb Crazy

By Golf Fitness MagazineNovember 15, 2010, 6:58 pm

Athletes and golfers alike have always known that carbohydrates are essential to producing energy. In the late 90’s our society was overtaken by the low carb diet trend, causing athletes of every sport to scratch their heads and wonder if maybe they too were eating too many carbs.

As a nutritionist, I totally agree with many of the proponents of the low carb diets. I believe as a society that we eat too many carbs. To be truthful, we could stand to cut back on all food – the calories we are eating as a society are exceeding the calories we are burning, which is leading to the obesity epidemic we are facing around the globe. Even professional golfers are faced with the challenge of preventing obesity from happening to them. What I don’t agree with is cutting out carbohydrates completely from anyone’s diet.

Low carb diets gained in popularity after the low fat diet trend started to fade. Back in the 1990’s, we thought that fat from food was what was causing us to be overweight and causing high levels of heart disease. Food manufacturers became obsessed with the “fat-free craze,” coming out with everything from fat free cookies to fat free margarine. We thought that as long as it was fat free, we could sit down with a whole box of fat free cookies and not gain weight. Alas, we still gained weight. Then came the revival of the low carb trend that was so popular in the 1970’s. Instead of demonizing fat, we starting thinking carbs were the evil foods making us so fat. We lost weight, only to gain it all back as soon as we went off the impossibly low carb diet.

Research studies have proven that it is not the carbs that make us fat—it is total calories. People on low carb diets lose weight because they are eating fewer calories than they were before. A lot of the weight lost is also water weight because our glycogen stores (carb stores in our body) are very water rich. When we reduce carbs, we lose water weight. It is physiologically impossible to lose 5-10 pounds of fat in a week, yet the scale would reflect weight losses of that magnitude for some people when embarking on a low carb diet.

Cutting Back

The differences between cutting back and cutting out are two totally different approaches. In order to meet your body’s energy demands, you need to ensure that you are getting enough carbs in your diet. If you do not get enough carbohydrates in your diet, your body will use the protein in the diet for energy. Using protein for energy prevents the body from using protein for building and repairing the muscles that you are using and abusing during tough workouts, rounds of golf and just daily life. This ultimately leaves you left with low energy and greater potential for injury on and off the course.

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy. Carbs come from sugar, starch, and fiber in our diet. Sugar and starches are broken down into glucose, which is energy for our cells. Our bodies need glucose every second of the day to keep our brain functioning, to tell our heart to keep beating, and our lungs to keep breathing.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that everyone over the age of one year get a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrate daily. In terms of percentage of calories, the IOM recommends that 45-65% of our calories should come from carbs.

For an active male eating 2500 calories, that equates to 281-406 grams daily. For an active female eating 2000 calories, that equates to 225 to 325 grams daily.

Low Carb Foods

Even though the low carb craze is fading, I still sense a fear of high carbohydrate foods. I often hear from clients, athletes and non-athletes alike, that they avoid bread, pasta, and potatoes because they are concerned that eating them will make them fat. Instead, many people are opting for the low carb varieties of these foods. While some reduced carb foods can be healthy, many have ingredients in them that can cause some unpleasant side effects, and often, more times than not, low carb foods have just as many calories as the original food, so read labels carefully!

A common way to reduce the carb content of food, is to replace sugar with sugar alcohols. These sugar alcohols read on a food label with words like maltitol, mannitol, lactitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol. With the exception of erythritol, these sugar alcohols are not absorbed in the small intestine. Because they are not completely digested, the large intestine produces gas when the bacteria come into contact with these sugar alcohols. The result is gas, bloating, and potentially diarrhea in people who eat these sugar alcohols. So if you have been eating low carb candies and other treats and not feeling so good afterwards, now you know why. Check labels for sugar alcohols and avoid them if you find that they give you these unpleasant side effects.

All carbs can fit into a healthy diet, so the idea of some carbs being “good” while some are “bad” is not the best way to think. Classifying foods as “good” and “bad” promotes guilty feelings when we “give in” to the “bad” foods. Instead of trying to find low carb versions of your favorite high carb foods, enjoy the original version in moderation. Refined carbs such as cakes, cookies, and candy should be limited in our diets. Use these high sugar foods as treats in small quantities. Just because something is white does not mean it is bad, though. White potatoes often get lumped into the “bad carb” list, but white potatoes are actually one of the highest antioxidant foods in our food supply and a great source of complex carbs, especially for a golfer.

Choose whole grain varieties of bread, pasta, rice, cereal, and other grains whenever possible. Whole grains are hot in the marketplace right now, so it is not hard to find whole grain varieties of your favorite foods. There is more to whole grains than whole wheat bread and brown rice. Experiment with whole grains you may not use often or have not tried before. Quinoa, spelt, and millet are whole grains that are extremely versatile and can be used in salads, soups, or as a side dish. Don’t forget about barley, rye, popcorn (yes, it is a whole grain!), and corn.

Fruit and vegetables are rich in carbs and also rich in very important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. All fruits are good, even if you hear that they are too high in sugar. They are indeed high in sugar, but it is natural sugar and along with that sugar comes a nice package of fiber and other nutrients.

All vegetables are good, too – even the starchy vegetables like corn, peas, and potatoes. Starchy vegetables will be slightly higher in calories than non-starchy vegetables, but both are high in nutritional value and should be a part of your diet.

Another source of carbohydrates that many people don’t think about is milk. Milk has 12 grams of carbohydrates per 8 oz glass. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are all foods that have significant healthy attributes and should also be included daily in a healthy diet.

Just because you are eating “good” carbs doesn’t mean that you can eat them in unlimited quantities. Remember that all calories, regardless of whether they enter your body as carbs, protein, fat, or alcohol, have the potential to cause weight gain when eaten in excess of the calories burned..

Carbs are necessary in your diet to provide energy to fuel your brain and muscles, prevent injury and help maximize your time on or off the course. Without carbs, you will be low on energy and your golf game will suffer. Examine what you eat to determine whether you are getting the right balance of carbs, protein, and fats in your diet. If you are gaining weight and don’t want to, cut back on your portions of all foods in your diet, not just carbs. Look for opportunities to have high quality carbs such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to replace high sugar and refined grains.

Tara Gidus, is a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a nutrition consultant and a member of the Golf Fitness Magazine Advisory Team.

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


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In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.