Go-to 'food' man for top golfers, David Dunne practises what he preaches

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: David Dunne, performance nutritionist with the PGA European Tour and brother of Irish golfer Paul Dunne

David Dunne, Co Wicklow-born nutritionist with the PGA European Tour
David Dunne, Co Wicklow-born nutritionist with the PGA European Tour

1 Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

My productivity is highest in the mornings, so I get up and ready pretty quickly. I usually make a quick omelette or grab some muesli and yoghurt with a pint of water and then get out the door. I will have a coffee en route to wherever I need to be for work and I spend five to 10 minutes making a list of what I need to get done during the day while drinking it.

2 What might you eat in a typical working day for...

Breakfast? It depends – if I’m stuck behind a desk, it will usually be a three-egg omelette. If I have an active morning ahead, I’ll have some home-made muesli and Greek yoghurt.

Lunch? Pretty consistent here: a home-made Moroccan couscous with salmon and fresh veg. I’ll ramp up the carbs if I have training in the evening.

Evening meal? This varies a lot, but, usually, I stick to a good serving of protein from meat or fish, alongside plenty of vegetables and a more moderate portion of carbohydrate. Poke bowls have become a favourite, lately.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, it very important as I practise what I preach and lead by example in the environment I work in. You wouldn’t trust a bankrupt accountant, so I wouldn’t expect you to trust a fat, out-of-shape nutritionist. I also play Gaelic football with London, so I need to be on top of things, otherwise I’d break pretty quickly.

4 Best meal ever?

Pumpkin-filled ravioli pasta with fresh fish at the Italian Open last year. Darren (caddy for my brother, Paul) recommended a small restaurant down by the harbour in Garda. Darren always know the good spots, so we took his word for it and the food was incredibly fresh and tasty.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

I have a few... it's hard to beat a big burger or a nice pizza, every now and again.

6 Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

When I’ve needed to increase/decrease weight or change body composition, I just make tweaks to the habits that work for me. This is a sustainable approach in my opinion – diets are rapidly often followed by relapse, regain, and, ultimately, a lower self-efficacy which isn’t good for you, mentally.

7 Do you take health supplements?

Yes, I regularly take supplements, but they vary, depending on the time of year. During the winter months, I supplement with vitamin D to support my immune function and to compensate for lack of sunlight. At certain times of the GAA season, I also load up on beta-alanine. On a daily basis, I take omega 3 fish oils (usually about 1g EPA dosage), some whey protein and creatine.

8 How do you relax?

Playing sport.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

I'm partial to a pint. I think social recovery is as important as physical recovery… so long as it’s not every weekend.

10 Stairs or lift?

Stairs, always.

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I wouldn’t say daily, but I do weekly. I usually do three gym sessions a week – one upper, one lower and one total body strength session. Outside of that, I play Gaelic three days a week and, if I have the energy, get down to the track for some shorter speed work.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Cook as much of your own food as you can and take up a sport/activity that doesn’t make exercise a chore.

13 On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?

I would say I’m about a seven. I’m happy enough with that, but would like to periodically go up to a nine. It’s not sustainable all year round, though, to be at that level.

14 Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

No, my needs are quite simple. I like to work hard, train, eat well and sleep. That’s enough for me.

15 Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

Bits of both. I enjoyed playing school sports, but had a few injuries along the way. My club sports, however, are all happy memories. I was very fortunate to grow up in Greystones, Co Wicklow, where my parents facilitated us playing everything. I loved my sport at Greystones Rugby Club and Éire Óg GAA in particular.

16 Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

No, not really, but I was always pretty interested in the subject of biology and it has proved a natural fit with my career now.

17 Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

Make a list, identify priorities and match those items with your periods of highest productivity.

18 Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?

In attitude to life, probably my dad – I think we are quite similar that way, although I definitely have some of my mum’s traits too; she’s very creative. In fitness, no-one. I do what I enjoy for myself and not for anyone else.

19 What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?

It's usually about 11pm, but I'm up anywhere from 5-6.30am. I’d love more sleep and need to work up to eight hours, as I know the negative health outcomes for short sleep and they’re very scary.

20 Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

Yes, definitely and I don’t get stressed about it. Stress is a killer and I don’t understand why people waste their energy on it, especially for things they can’t control. I just take one day and one task at a time. I like it this way: simple, straightforward and easy to enjoy.

:: David will be taking part in Q&A with Dr Hazel Wallace (The Food Medic) in the Lifestyle Pavilion in the Championship Village at Lahinch Golf Club, Co Clare, tomorrow as part of the Irish Open: