Food is an important part of an ideal psycho-physical condition program for an athlete. It’s important for every driver to be able to see to this for himself, but too often they only have approximate ideas that are quite muddled up too and deviate from very important rules. The first therefore, is to give the driver the priorities to prevent him from making silly mistakes, that is, he has to take in few concepts that are simple and easy to remember.
Well, what are these fundamental rules for healthy eating? It’s not easy to answer this question because still today dieticians from all over the world argue and all have their own theory, and sometimes these are rather contrasting ones. Let’s start thinking that food is our fuel, and therefore it has to be well dosed. We can divide it in 3 macro categories: carbohydrates (pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, fruit, vegetables, and sugars sweets), protein (meat and fish) and fats (butter and oil). Furthermore, there is food denominated that can be defined as “mixed”, like milk, yoghurt and eggs, legumes and cheeses.
Over these last few years eating habits have changed, there is a greater intake of complex carbohydrates. The staff at Formula Medicine suggests that we should not exaggerate with complex carbohydrates, the ones that derive from cereals and reduce the simple ones until you actually eliminate them from the diet, but increase intake of carbohydrates that derive from vegetables and fruit, which many of the younger generation simply overlook. What effect does the wrong diet have? A meal based mainly on complex carbohydrates increases of glycaemia, the value of glucose concentration in the blood; this brings about a high level of insulin, a hormone that has a protective function, circulating in the blood. However, insulin tends to reduce the level of glycaemia too much and this has a double consequence: hunger and tiredness. The latter derives from the fact that glucose is the only “fuel” for the brain. A wrong diet therefore makes you eat more and getting overweight and going through phases of sort of misty brain, two situations that are not suitable for racing drivers.
Here are three basic rules to avoid such situations:
1 – Avoid eating excessive amounts of cereals, potatoes and sweets
2 – Eat more fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and legumes.
3 – Eat small amounts frequently, at least 5 times a day breakfast, break, lunch, break and dinner
These are 3 easy rules to remember and to apply. Especially the third one is very important indeed for preventing the well-known hyperglycaemia, to get a light digestion and it is even more important on the track, when the dynamics of the tests, qualifiers and race have no interest for the stomach, leaving it very little time to digest.
The time required for digestion is another very interesting topic for drivers, and it can be summed up as if it were a “pyramid”:
· > 3 hour competition - “normal meal”: 3 hours are enough for a correct digestion, so you can eat a whole meal and stick to the above rules. For example, it could be an average portion of pasta, a portion of meat or fish, vegetables and if you like a bit of fruit.
· < 3 / > 2 hour competition – “small meal”: we can still at a meal following the same rules, but a smaller portion, especially of pasta and meat/fish.
· < 2 / > 1 ore competition – “snack area”: there’s not enough time to digest a normal meal, so you should have a snack: ham and cheese toast, bar of energetic fruit, fruit, yoghurt and liquid malto-dextrin (a particular ready to use hydrocaburate). If you haven’t got any, you can always use the same fruit just mentioned but in even smaller quantities, opting for fruit, bars and malto-dextrin.