To become the best athlete in your respective sport, talent is undoubtedly part of the equation. But it’s more than just your God-given ability. It’s a mix of practice, training, and one of the most overlooked aspects of an athlete’s regimen—diet.
That said, Tiger Woods is an outlier in the world of professional sports. No, he’s not sucking down 32-ounce Big Gulps of Pepsi and slamming Whoppers before he hits the golf course, but he’s also not knocking back protein shakes and two pounds of chicken a day.
With a mix of his father’s favorites, a skew toward the Mediterranean diet, and multiple meals per day, Woods gets the energy he needs to excel on and off the links. Find out what fuels one of the greatest players ever to hit the PGA Tour. Maybe you can make it a staple of your own routine.
Intuition would tell you that athletes eat less to maintain a healthy physique, but that’s not the case with Tiger Woods. Prior to making the cut at The Masters in 2019 en route to his first major in over a decade, Woods discussed his diet on a GolfTV telecast called “Wayward Drives With Henni.” During the show—which was filmed in Mexico City during the Mexico Championship—he said one thing that resonated with viewers: “I’m always hungry.”
Chalk it up to that desire to win, a superior metabolism, or simply genetics, but Woods curbs this hunger by downing between five to seven meals a day. If he eats less, Woods states that he actually has trouble keeping the weight or muscle mass that he’s built
For most people, that would lead to significant meat sweats and a bit of wheezing on the way to the refrigerator. But for Woods, it’s a proven way to curb hunger without gorging.
Even more interestingly, science has his back. According to studies, eating five to seven meals a day provides several benefits:
Despite the fact that Tiger Woods eats five meals a day, it’s not by design and more a matter of keeping his weight up and staving off hunger simultaneously. Imagine that—a world-class athlete having a natural eating cycle that lends itself to a strapping physique. Sometimes, the world isn’t fair to us mere mortals.
Although Tiger Woods wolfs down double the meals as most people, it’s more about what he eats when he’s snacking, grazing, or enjoying a meal. While he focuses on the Mediterranean diet which is low in fat and high in protein, he also doesn’t turn a blind eye to some of his less-than-healthy favorites. Here’s a look at the Tiger Woods diet, and how it enables him to play a great round of golf time and time again.
Low-calorie, high-protein diets are the staple of any professional athlete, ranging from NFL linebackers to golf pros. Tiger Woods is no different. Yet he doesn’t necessarily take a low-carbohydrate approach like some.
Part of the Tiger Woods diet consists of a breakfast that combines all of these nutritional accouterments. He enjoys an egg-white omelet packed with veggies. He doesn’t divulge his spices or how many eggs he uses, and interestingly, he’s never allowed anyone to record his breakfast routine.
But if he has a three-egg-white omelet with veggies, he’s consuming only 225 calories and 9 grams of fat, along with a whopping 30 grams of protein and only 15 grams of carbs. That’s quite the healthy start that can certainly lend itself to an improved short game and even more focus on a golf swing.
All snacks aside, Tiger Woods turns to a Mediterranean-style diet come lunchtime. According to plant-based dining website The Beet, Woods enjoys mostly fish during lunchtime. His favorite option is sushi, which is light while also being packed with protein and essential vitamins and minerals.
Depending on what sushi he eats—he’s not picky—this leads to about 200 to 300 calories, 25 to 40 carbs, 8 to 20 grams of fat, and 20 to 25 grams of protein per roll. Compared to other foods, this is perhaps the most quintessential mix of calorie-to-protein proportions.
But when he’s not at the country club where sushi is readily available, Woods prefers to eat grilled chicken with veggies.
Tiger Woods’ diet doesn’t follow any particular direction for dinner, but it’s far less regimented than his other meals throughout the day. While no one’s quite sure what he eats behind close doors, Woods has been known to eat shrimp, steak fajitas, veggies, crab cakes, and of course sushi for his nightcap.
However, the familiar concept here is that all of these options are high in protein and low in calories.
Tiger stays on top of his hunger pangs by continuously eating, even on the course. Between mashing golf balls or discussing the next hole with his caddie on the walk to the next tee, he’s been known to partake in a peanut butter and banana sandwich and nuts.
According to studies, golfers who walk a round of 18 can burn up to 1,500 calories. To keep his energy up, Tiger employs this snacking method, which can improve focus when he’s ready to swing the golf club.
Tiger’s father Earl was integral in turning Tiger into arguably the greatest player ever to grace the PGA Championship Tour. Since age 2, he transformed his son into a master of the course—turning him into a teenage phenom.
Whether it’s an homage to his father or just part of his upbringing, Tiger Woods has routinely said that his favorite meal is steak and potatoes with a little bit of black pepper—just how his dad liked it.
However, this isn’t the norm. Due to multiple injuries and surgeries, Woods has leaned away from this classic meal toward options that lessen pain and inflammation. He still partakes in steak and potatoes—but like anything else—it’s all in moderation.
Diet plays a pivotal role in the conditioning of every person—Tiger included. According to Dr. Shawn Talbot, Director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic, weight loss or maintaining weight is about 75% diet and 25% exercise.
So it should come as no surprise that Tiger’s diet coincides with hitting the gym—whether it’s cardio or weightlifting. Although Tiger has been hampered by injuries over the past decade or so, he’s been known as a driven, ferocious gym rat, especially compared to his contemporaries. While he may not have an Schwarzenegger approach to the game, he’s definitely known as one of the PGA Tour players that spends plenty of time building his strength, endurance, and agility.
Like Tiger Woods diet, his workout routine has changed over the years. Most notably, Tiger used to run eight miles a day on top of playing golf for about seven hours. While he used to focus almost exclusively on cardio, he’s switched more to weight training over the years. Part of this is due to his injuries and age, but it’s also the result of different trainers.
Today, Tiger spends far more of his time on core workouts, weightlifting, and light cardio. He starts off by stretching for about 40 minutes. Next, he hops on the exercise bike and does about five to 10 miles. From there, he does various core workouts followed by weight training. He focuses on 25- to 50-pound weights at maximum reps to build overall tone and strength while also avoiding any excess strain or injury potential.
Tiger recently inked an endorsement deal with a company called MusclePharm, but he’s been silent on what supplements he’s introduced into his workout routine and diet. Aside from whey and protein powder, the company also has a number of other supplements geared toward pre- and post-workouts.
Since Tiger is known to combine more weight training into his workout regimen than most other golfers, he’s likely to partake in a protein shake from time to time, although this is merely speculation.
Odds are that you’re not going to reach the golfing level of Tiger Woods. Your goal is simply to become the best golfer that you can be. So while your diet and exercise routine can certainly squeeze a few extra yards out of your drive and give you the energy to do 18 or even 36 holes in a day, don’t let it get in the way of enjoying the foods and drinks that you love.
Is golf really golf without a few brewskies and the indulgence of a delicious high-calorie meal afterward? Probably not. Plan accordingly—just don’t make the unhealthy option a routine.