3 Essential & Powerful Keys to the Older-Age Success of Phil Mickelson

A diminishing career and a little more weight around the middle – what is unusual about that in a middle-aged man. But how did Phil Mickleson turn all that around so dramatically?

Phil Mickelson has raised eyebrows and created headlines for his win in the 2021 PGA Championship, becoming the oldest Major champion with this win, breaking Julius Boros‘ previous record.

But his secret is partly his mid-life diet plan, something that anyone of similar or older age can learn lessons from.

What are the Mickelson secrets?

“I work harder physically to be able to practice as long as I wanted to and I’ve had to work a lot harder to be able to maintain focus throughout a round. If I work a little harder, spend a little more time in the gym, eat well, practice hard, there’s no reason why I can’t put it all out there for 18 holes.”

If you’re looking for a proper deep-dive into Phil’s diet, I’d highly recommend my friend and colleague Sean Zak’s first-hand look trying Phil’s coffee-and-water fast. If you’re looking for something a little more high-level, think of it this way: Generally speaking, Phil eats less of everything and better overall. It’s a good rule to follow for anyone looking to lose weight.

Deals from World’s Best Nutrients

1. Periodic Fasting

He goes on longer fasts, like the kind Sean tried, and shorter ones. He does three-day fasts every few months as a way of resetting his immune system; he does shorter fasts more often, saying after his final round that he fasts for 36 hours straight once a week.

“It gives my body a chance to reset,” he said.

Phil said he alters his 36-hour, day-and-a-half weekly fast depending on his schedule. Usually, if he’s playing, it’s at the start of the week.

Fasting forces the body to avoid access to glucose and makes the body to begin gluconeogenesis, a natural process of producing its own sugar. The liver helps by converting non-carbohydrate materials like lactate, amino acids, and fats into glucose energy. Because our bodies conserve energy during fasting, our basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy our bodies burn while resting) becomes more efficient, thereby lowering our heart rate and blood pressure.

Ketosis, another process that occurs later into the fast cycle, happens when the body burns stored fat as its primary power source. This is the ideal mode for weight loss and balancing blood sugar levels.

Although fasting puts the body under mild stress, which makes the cells adapt by enhancing their ability to cope and to become stronger. The process is similar to what happens when muscles and the cardiovascular system are stressed during exercise. As with exercise, our body can only grow stronger during these processes when there is adequate time to rest and recover. That’s why short-term fasting is recommended.

2. Eat Less & Eat Better

“Food,” Phil said, when asked what his biggest sacrifice was, before taking a more holistic view on his new healthier lifestyle. “I’ve got to eat a lot less and I’ve got to eat better. I just can’t eat as much and I have to let my body kind of recover.

“But it’s also been a blessing for me because I feel better and I don’t have inflammation and I wake up feeling good. It’s been a sacrifice worth making.”

Essentially Mickelson is on a paleo diet – plenty of vegetables, fruit, proteins and nuts. No dairy and a cutback on carbs and processed foods.

A sample breakfast: eggs with broccoli, peppers, and some yam.

During those days of the fast Mickelson consumes just water and a special coffee blend that his performance coach Dave Phillips came up with. These are the ingredients for that ‘Mickelson’ blend:

  • 350-450 grams of coffee (Ethiopian beans)
  • Two to three tbsp. MCT or XCT oil
  • Large scoop flavourless collagen protein powder
  • Dash of Himalayan pink sea salt
  • Small glass of almond milk
  • 200 mg L-Theanine
  • One tbsp. Manuka honey
  • One tsp. cinnamon

3. Good Exercise

Proper exercise – or at least a rigid exercise regime is a key to Mickelson’s success. His coach Cochran outlined his typical workout, which has six steps:

  1. Myofascial release exercises (basically, self-massage with rollers)
  2. Static stretching
  3. Dynamic warm-up (“feet to fingertip” warm-up exercises that get the body ready to work out: things like forward lunges, back lunges, etc.)
  4. Power training (plyometrics, medicine-ball side throws, squat jumps)
  5. Core training (physio-ball saw, exercise-ball leg curl, anti-rotation core exercises)
  6. Total body strength training (pairing a lower-body strength exercise with an upper-body strength exercise, like dumbbell squats and horizontal rows)

Words like “myofascial release,” “plyometrics,” and “squat jumps” are not things the typically golf fan would associate with Phil Mickelson. But ever since Tiger Woods redefined the level of athleticism needed to be an elite golfer more than a decade ago, workouts like these have become an essential part of the sport.

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