Do you need Protein for Golf?


So you’ve seen Bryson’s bulging biceps on tv and have seen him chugging down protein shakes after a round and thought to yourself hey if it helps Bryson maybe it will turn me into a 350 yard driving monster. In this article I will be going in depth on if protein drinks will help your golf game or if you’re better off leaving them to Bryson.

Picture of strong individual working out

Who needs Protein anyways?

Proteins are the building blocks of muscle tissue. When you work out and break down muscle tissue it is through your protein intake that the muscles will then grow bigger and stronger so long as you are taking in a sufficient amount of protein. The general rule of thumb is you should consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 180 pounds and are trying to gain muscle and get stronger you should consume 180 grams of protein a day. You might think of ingesting large amounts of protein as only suitable for bodybuilders or those in strength-related sports such as Football. The truth is all athletes break down their muscle tissue through their respective sports and golf is no different. If you go to the driving range and do some speed work, you will break down the large muscles involved in the swing: gluteus maximus, gastrocnemius, latissiumus dorsi, pectoralis major, and obliques to name a few. If you go home and have junk food, your body will not have the proper protein to rebuild the muscles you tore down and thus you will have gained little from the session.

So why is protein important in golf?

In today’s day and age to be competitive in the sport, it is no longer possible to rise to the top without being in solid physical conditioning, and to achieve this, weight training should be a vital part of every golfer’s fitness plan. It has been proven that being able to hit the ball farther whether with your irons or driver will lead to a large advantage over the playing field. Tiger woods changed the game when he came on tour and was the longest hitter of his era. Now players like Bryson Dechambeau are taking it a step further and proving just how advantageous it is to have the long ball in your arsenal. It should come as no surprise that putting on additional muscle mass and gaining strength will lead to faster clubhead speed and ultimately longer distances with every club. To gain muscle and get stronger you must be taking in enough protein. Put simply- you can have the perfect workout routine, the best trainer, be eating the best types of foods, but if you’re not taking in enough protein- you will not get stronger or build bigger muscles.

Why protein shakes?

So why is Bryson chugging down protein shakes several times a day and not getting his protein through food? Surely he has enough money for the best foods and protein money can buy? The truth is that in a perfect world it would be better to get your entire protein intake through real foods such as steak or chicken. The problem is that people are busier than ever and don’t have the time to eat 5 or 6 meals a day packed with protein. Bryson and the pros are no different. The PGA season is jam-packed with tournaments and Bryson has training sessions, sponsorship, and other business-related ventures, and he even has his own YouTube channel.  This leaves little time to be having 5 or 6 well laid out meals with sufficient protein in them. The same can be said for the average person who might be working 50 to 60 hours a week and has a family. It can also be very expensive to buy high-quality protein sources such as chicken and steak for the average individual. Protein drinks solve these problems as they are cheap, have good macronutrients, and can be had in 30 seconds or less. Now that we know that protein is crucial to getting bigger and stronger which will lead to better golf scores let’s talk about what protein drinks/powders you should be buying.

Best Protein Powders

Picture of different tubs of protein powder

The best protein powders are going to offer you a good bang for your buck while tasting good and providing you with the proper macronutrients. Which protein powder you choose will depend on what you are trying to achieve and your overall fitness level, how busy you are, and how much you are willing to spend. If you have the budget for it you might want to have several different types such as whey protein for right after you work out and casein protein before bed. Whey protein is fast-acting whereas casein is a slower-acting protein and will provide your body with the protein it needs while you sleep. Below are my recommendations for the different types of protein you should have with some good overall picks.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is the most common ingredient in all protein shakes, powders, and bars. It is typically the cheapest type of protein however is also the best for taking post-workout. Whey protein works quickly to enter the bloodstream and begin repairing the muscle tissue you broke down during your workout. Whey protein is digested much more quickly than other types of protein with an estimated absorption rate of 10 g per hour which means 30 g of protein taken after a workout will take just 3 hours to be fully digested.

Recommendations: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard- This protein powder has been the most popular powder for the last decade and is a staple in the fitness, sports, and bodybuilding industry for good reason. The taste while not great is good, it stirs easily, and it is easily digestible and won’t leave you feeling bloated or with an upset stomach. With 24 grams of protein per scoop, you can easily meet your protein intake for the day.

Meal Replacement

Meal replacements are just what they say; they offer an easy-to-consume way to replace a meal for the day. While whey protein drinks are very low in fat and carbs, meal replacements will have higher levels of both fat and carbs leading to a better-balanced macronutrient profile and one which can adequately replace a meal.

Recommendations: BSN Syntha 6- While taste should not be the top of your priority when choosing a protein powder this one stands out as being one of if not the best tasting protein powders on the market. While not directly marketed as a meal replacement, the macronutrient profile fits perfectly to fit the needs of a meal replacement. At 22 grams of protein per serving, I would even recommend having 1 and a half serving for most individuals to provide the best macro profile for replacing a meal.

Casein Protein  

Casein protein is slow digesting and is perfect for consuming right before bed as it will provide your muscles with a steady stream of protein through the night which is one of the most anabolic parts of the day and when the body repairs itself. Compared to whey protein which the body will absorb in just a couple of hours casein protein can take 6 to 8 hours to be digested which makes it a poor choice for post-workout but perfect at night.

Recommendations: Optimum Nutrition casein protein- Another staple for fitness enthusiasts throughout the world. This is the go-to for casein protein and is one of if not the highest quality casein protein there is. Casein protein is typically harder to stir than whey protein so just be aware that it can clump up if stirred by a spoon.

Weight Gainers

I typically would not recommend weight gainers for the majority of people as most of the calories are low-quality carbohydrates. However for those who have a very hard time gaining weight which we refer to as “hard gainers” they can be of benefit. These are very high in calories often over 700 calories per serving with a large amount of fat and carbs. Again if you don’t have trouble gaining weight I would not recommend buying weight gainers.

Recommendations: Optimum Nutrition Pro gainer or BSN True Mass- I like both of these weight gainers the most as they have a much better macro profile without useless carb and fat fillers like other brands.

Whey Isolate

The main benefit of whey isolate protein is that it is more easily digestible and will be suitable for those who have stomach bloat or indigestion with the above proteins. The con is that whey isolate is one of the most expensive forms of protein.

Recommendations: Isopure whey protein isolate- This is one of the most popular and well-respected whey isolate powders and has been around since 1984. This protein has zero lactate and is therefore great for those who are lactose intolerant or have difficulty processing lactose. The biggest con here is the high cost of around 48 dollars for 3 pounds which is quite a bit more expensive than typical whey protein.

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Kasey
Kasey
2 years ago

Great writeup. Do you have a protein powder that you would recommend to seniors?

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Although I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy by profession, I am not your Physical Therapist nor am a Medical Doctor. All content and information on this website is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and does not establish any kind of patient-client relationship by your use of this website. A patient-client relationship with you is only formed after we have expressly entered into a written agreement with you that you have signed including our terms to represent you in a specific manner. Although we strive to provide accurate general information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in the area for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any professional, legal, medical and financial, or tax related decisions.

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Kasey
Kasey
2 years ago

Great writeup. Do you have a protein powder that you would recommend to seniors?

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