You’ve probably been told to ditch the pre-round bagel and orange juice and avoid a soda or sports drink at the turn. “They’re bad for you,” you’ve heard. But if you’ve ever wondered why eating simple carbs like refined flour products, cereals and high-sugar drinks and snacks hurt your golf game, it goes beyond the message of “empty calories.
“It’s what they do to your brain, says Matt Jones, a nutritionist who works with some European Tour golfers as well as many other professional athletes.To simplify the science behind how nutrition impacts athletic performance, focus on two well-known neurotransmitters—serotonin and dopamine, Jones says.
When you eat processed foods loaded with simple carbohydrates, the concentration of an amino acid called tryptophan increases in the bloodstream. When tryptophan passes the blood-brain barrier, it’s rapidly converted into serotonin.