What to Eat When Racing La Carrera
Carrera days start early and end late. The rally requires a huge amount of physical and mental energy. If you fail to eat and stay hydrated throughout the day you’re inviting disaster. One lapse of concentration can send you down the wrong road or rolling over a cliff.
Be Careful What You Eat
No matter where you are from you’ve got to be careful about what you eat throughout the rally. Start your La Carrera diet two or three days before racing begins. Focus on eating simple, nutritious foods that don’t stress your body or risk traveler’s diarrhea.
The food in Mexico is wonderful wherever you go. But unless you want to race wearing adult diapers, most of it is off limits until you reach the finish.
Bring The Food you Need
Early in planning for our first Carrera Panamericana we decided we would bring our own foods for breakfast and for eating in the car. Our crew would make us lunch and dinners we would find at our hotel.
In our podcast with rally winner Angelica Fuentes Garcia she mentioned how she starts eating a very clean Carrera-diet two weeks before the race. Ten time Carrera co-driver Murray Smith had his own approach. “During La Carrera I only eat grilled flank and power bars, drink only Coke and Gatorade, and smoke cigarettes like a chimney.”
We decided to opt for an approach that was closer to Angelica’s than Murray’s. Below you’ll find a list of what we ate and the foods we brought in our own pantry.
With the early starts you won’t always have time to get breakfast in the hotel restaurant and doing so adds time-stress you don’t need. We made our breakfast in our room so we knew would never go without. Concerning food, this was the single best choice we made.
Instant coffee with sugar
Instant oatmeal made with hot water from an electric tea kettle we brought with us
Protein shake which we would drink either after the first transit or after the first speed section. These shakes really helped us maintain energy and focus
Lunch at Service
As with all meals, keep lunch simple and familiar. Our two favorite options were:
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made by the crew
Scrambled eggs and tortillas which can be found in any restaurant near a service. They are easy on your stomach and the extra protein really helps
Water, sports drinks, or a Coke depending on the day
The dinners at the nightly award banquets are very good and you can trust all the food. In all situations stick to simple things, avoid fresh vegetables and anything spicy.
Grilled flank steak is almost universally available in Mexico
Rice and tortillas
Tortilla soup is delicious almost everywhere
Pasta when it’s available
Mezcal, of course. : )
Eating In the Car
In the car, driver and co-driver need to work together to stay fed and hydrated. Your life depends on each other. Avoid too much sugar. Go for things with protein and carbs.
Nut bars, we ate the Kind Bar brand
Oat bars, we ate the Bobo’s brand
Our Food Pantry for La Carrera
Protein powder: Amazing Grass Green SuperFood Chocolate
Instant oatmeal: Bobs Red Mill Instant Oatmeal
Instant coffee: Starbucks Via
Beef jerky: Whole Foods Original
Nut bar: Kind Fruit & Nut
Oat bar: Bobo’s Original
Choose Your Carrera Foods Wisely
I really can’t stress enough how important food is on the Carrera. The race will put your body under tremendous stress, which on its own will create digestive issues for you, as it did for us. Carefully plan your breakfasts, lunches, and in-car snacks. At dinner you will always have plenty of choices, just choose wisely.