Justin Thomas changed his diet in a big way. Here’s why he had to

justin thomas

Justin Thomas is trying to make sure he doesn't lose energy like the did in 2022.

Getty Images

Pro golfers are trend artists. They live their lives in trends. All kinds of them. How they’re driving the ball or how their short game feels or how many cuts they’ve made in a row. It’s all trends. Recognize them and react. 

Often the trends are based on hard numbers like Strokes Gained or fairways hit. But sometimes they’re much more subjective. Like how Justin Thomas was feeling on the hottest, muggiest days last season. There was the Mayakoba event in late 2021, where he felt dehydrated.

“Just off,” Thomas said. 

Then there was the PGA Championship, which he won, despite battling low energy and high congestion.

“I have no idea how I ended up playing well that week,” Thomas said.

Then there was the Tour Championship, where all season-long trends reach their conclusion. Thomas shot a 68 in the final round at East Lake, signed his card, walked into the locker room and upchucked everything he had eaten that day. If it wasn’t obvious before, the trend was obvious now to JT: “The heat got to me.”

justin thomas
Justin Thomas is turning 30. It has him feeling a certain way
By: Sean Zak

Whenever it was overly hot outside, Justin Thomas grew tired much quicker. Much quicker than he should have, a professional athlete in great shape at 29 years old, in the prime of his career. Inside, things weren’t so perfect. Thomas had what he has described to GOLF.com as a “leaky gut” that was zapping his energy in the throes of the summer. The plan to fix it came following bloodwork and food sensitivity tests and conversations with wellness expert Dr. Ara Suppiah. 

Suppiah gave Thomas special instructions. No gluten for a year. No dairy for six months. Then every day consume a special, yellow drink, mixed with some peach-flavored powder and a LivPur hydration packet. That should patch up the leaky gut and help his body push through those energy-sucking afternoons on the PGA Tour. 

“I’m hoping it works because it sucks not being able to eat anything good,” Thomas said Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Championship. “But if I don’t try it, I won’t know if it works, you know what I’m saying? Hoping that it’s something that’s going to help me a lot and just a little trial and error kind of thing.”

Thomas is a trial and error kind of guy. He looks at all the variables that can impact his game and tries to control them. He doesn’t drink during tournament weeks. He’s in bed around 10 p.m. every night. Some of this stuff can be a drag; he knows it. But if it’s the difference in how he feels standing in the fairway during a steamy June Sunday at Los Angeles Country Club, he’ll be thrilled with the process.

“If it’s on the road or if you’re on a vacation, it’s definitely difficult,” Thomas said. “I have to be that guy that tells the waitress or waiter of what’s going on.”

So, what does that diet actually look like? Thomas leans on chef Michael Parker a lot while he’s on the road. Parker has cooked for some of the biggest names in the world, often based in Jupiter but taking to the road during major weeks. He’s helped push Thomas toward more steak, more chicken, more fish. Less bread. More veggies. More rice. Only some kinds of salad dressing, Thomas says. 

So, three months into the changes, how’s the new diet going? We’re all curious.

Pretty good, JT says. He feels better. He has more energy in the morning. All good things. But he’s only halfway on his dairy-free journey and just a quarter of the way on his gluten-free plan. The most devilish combo of dairy and gluten is exactly what Thomas wants most. 

“I want a pizza so f—king bad, you have no idea,” he told me back in March. A month and a half later, that doesn’t seem to have changed. 

“I want a pizza like you cannot imagine,” he said again Tuesday. “Like I would do some really messed up things for a pizza just doused in ranch.”

Sean Zak

Golf.com Editor

Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just finished a book about the summer he spent in St. Andrews.