Editor's note: This is the fifth installment of a six-part series with PGA Professional Rob Labritz, offering up tips on how you can become a complete golfer. Each feature will focus on one of six topics: Body, Game, Game maintenance, Mind, Nutrition and Equipment in an effort to help you become the best golfer you can be.
"Pay attention to what you put in your body."
Surely you've heard that from your doctor countless times.
Well, now you're going to hear it from PGA Professional Rob Labritz.
In this week's installment of our "Become a complete golfer" series, Labritz is putting a major emphasis on nutrition.
"Make smart choices," he said. "You can't go wrong with a protein-based diet that also includes fruits and vegetables without a lot of sugary carbohydrates. You do need some carbohydrates for brain function, but you don't need the kinds that are slathered in sugar."
Over the course of this series, Labritz has stressed the importance of keeping everything "in balance." It isn't just your mind and your swing. It extends to what you're eating, too.
For instance, Labritz said, if you're the kind of person who thinks fueling up on the course means a hot dog and a soft drink at the turn, you may want to reevaluate -- particularly if you're serious about improving all aspects of your game.
"Basically you're messing yourself up pretty bad if you opt for a hot dog and Coke," he said. "You'll probably have a sugar high for 45 minutes and then a crash. When your body does that, your mind does the same thing. It's hard to stay balanced."
Labritz is a self-described "strict eater" when it comes to life in general and believes it's something everyone should buy into and make a part of their lifestyle.
So how do you apply nutrition to the course?
Like everything else, it has to do with preparation.
The goal on the course is to keep your energy high and your focus throughout. You don't want to be full out there, but you certainly don't want to be starving either.
Labritz recommends eating a good meal 3-4 hours before your tee time. If it's an early morning tee time and you don't have time to get that solid meal in, here's what Labritz suggests.
"The night before, for dinner, I'll order a steak and veggies, maybe with a side of pasta or extra bread -- you're going to burn it all off walking the course the next day," he said. "The body functions at its best when it's balanced nutritionally.
"Once you get to the course, the best thing you can do for yourself is to have an almond-based snack. That has good, natural fats that will allow you to maintain your energy. I also love granolas for on-course snacking -- as long as there's not a lot of added sugar -- as well as beef jerky that is higher quality and not loaded with sodium."
Snacking throughout the round will keep your appetite satisfied.
"Because of the energy you're exerting, it's better to overeat a little with healthy snacks than under eat," Labritz said.
Just as important as eating is hydration.
"A bottle of water every two holes," Labritz said. "You always want to be sipping that water and -- if you keep having to run to the bathroom -- you'll know you're hydrating properly."
If you're the kind of person who is quick to reach for the energy juice drinks because of the electrolytes, you might want to dial it back a touch.
"They're loaded with sugar," Labritz said. "If you want a little flavor, I'd pour some of the energy drink into a cup and fill the rest with water."
Following a round, especially if you're playing a tournament, the routine stays the same: Eat a bunch of protein and veggies to feed those muscles again, along with some simple carbs.
Some supplements for pasta that you might want to try, according to Labritz -- to avoid the extra sugars and carbohydrates -- include wheat pasta, brown-rice pasta and Ezekiel pasta.
"The bottom line: stay away from sugar and processed foods," Labritz said. "Soy is a good option too. Those are things to look for. Keep that diet high in protein, low in carbohydrates and mid-range in fats."
Rob Labritz, who has played in four PGA Championships (he was low-Club Professional in 2010 at Whistling Straits), is currently the Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in BedFord Hills, N.Y. He was also the PGA Met Section Player of the Year in 2008, 2013 and 2016, as well as the Westchester Golf Association's Player of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2015. You can learn more about Labritz at www.RobLabritz.com and you can follow him on Twitter, @Rlabritz.
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