The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is this weekend and drivers, crews and race fans will descend on Long Beach Harbor for the event. In this post, Tom’s Foodie Blog examins the importance of driver nutrition on the outcome of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. After reading this post you might be surprised how their diet can be the X factor that gives a driver the edge to win the checkered flag.
Formula 1 Racing is considered by many to be one of the most difficult of endurance sports, on par with Iron Man and Marathons. For over two hours, Formula 1 drivers are precisely controlling a rocket on wheels; any form of fatigue could not only send the driver to the back of the pack or into a dangerous crash. Their bodies have to endure constant strain including up to 3.5 g of force during corner turns, temperatures of up to 120 degree , and controlling a 1,300 pound vehicle going an average of 180 mph! I would personally pass out from fatigue if I attempted this.
Watch this video and tell me if you can do this for two hours straight!
Races can come down to nutrition and fitness as the key X factor. In a recent article in Men’s Fitness magazine, Nick Harris, exercise physiologist “…the driver can burn up to 1,500 calories and might lose up to 3kgs of body weight after each race” , he adds “It’s no surprise that these gifted folk have to be in top shape if they hope to even compete.”
Today I interviewed several drivers during the Media Preview Lunch for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and they gave me their nutritional regimen prior to the race. The Indy Car drivers take control of their diets the same way any marathon or track and field athlete may prepare their body for an intense endurance challenge. All the drivers told me that the preparation begins prior to the race season by carefully monitoring their intact to ensure the keep a lean body frame. During their intense physical conditioning process they will tend to consume lean proteins, whole grains and nutrient dense produce. Several weeks before the race the drivers will need to start a systematic carbohydrate regimen that will take them to race day. The goal is to maximize the storage of glycogen in the muscles for rapid release during the race. Glycogen is the primary energy source for muscles during intense physical activity.
According to a recent study published in ISRN Physiology Journal, muscles will be depleted of glycogen after 90 minutes of intense physical activity. It takes days, if not weeks, to properly load your muscles with proper loads of glycogen for endurance activities like Formula 1 races. According toveteran Race Car Driver Paul Tracy winner of the 1993 Toyota Grand Prix, “If you are worried about your diet the day before the race, it is too late to worry about it….your lead up is always at least five days before hand.” The greater amount of glycogen in the muscle the longer the driver can maintain an When race weekend comes around, it is carbohydrate loading time. Today for example, I watched the drivers load up on carbs during the media lunch, with plates full of simple pasta, vegetables and potatoes. advantage over their competitor.
The day of the race, each driver had a very different regimen; although there was a common theme, breakfast on race day is light. Indy Car driver Simona De Selvestro told me that on the morning of a race she will consume a small piece of chicken and sweet potatoes. This diet for example does two things, it provides lean protein to the muscles to provide protection and the sweet potatoes have a low glycemic and delayed release of carbohydrates and sugars, providing her a continuous release of energy during the race.
Now that you received a primer on driver nutrition, I encourage you to visit the Toyota Grand Prix of Long beach this weekend. Tickets are still on sale. If you like food, vendor booths and adult beverages, there will be a festival like atmosphere with plenty of fun food options. Local restaurants like King Taco, CPK will be serving hot food and then there will be county fair style food, food trucks and of course beer and alcohol stands. If you see me there be sure to say Hello! After my interview with Simona De Selvestro, “The Swiss Rocket”, I will be rooting for her on Sunday.
Tickets can be purchased at http://www.gplb.com/ticket-prices/
Discount tickets can be found on Goldstar for a nice discount, perfect for families on a tight budget http://www.goldstar.com/events/long-beach-ca/toyota-grand-prix-of-long-beach.