Fuelling for Performance

This resource looks at the principles of nutrition and hydration and will provide you with the tools to review your own nutritional plan and decide what to eat and when, to improve performance. The Motorsport UK Academy has provided you with some Top Tips for fuelling your performance, including the importance of hydration and snacking healthily at events.

The energy demands of motorsport can be huge and so it is essential to fuel accordingly, depending on performance level and discipline. It is important for your body, your health and your performance and your recovery.


Carbohydrates for fuel – opt for slow burning carbs, particularly 2-3 hours prior to competition to keep energy levels high. Do not race on an empty stomach, you need energy to perform at your best.
Lean protein – for strength and recovery
Good fats (unsaturated) are also a good source of slow release energy and will help your nervous system to function well
Food first. Unless there is a specific nutritional requirement you should always pick food first, over supplements
Whole foods – avoid processed or pre-seasoned foods
Always read the packet – you may be surprised at the contents of some foods. Check calories, levels of saturated fats and salt and sugar content.
Snacking – add or remove healthy snacks based on activity levels
Hydration – we usually start the day dehydrated so do your best to stop this by drinking water – little and often is always best and carry a refillable water bottle.
Time your meals – you must eat food with enough time for the body to digest and the energy to be released. Nerves do affect appetite so find something plain to eat that you know works for you.
Eat little and often on race day – eat smaller portions at each meal to avoid large energy troughs. 5 smaller meals allow time for food to digest so that the blood returns from your stomach to the rest of the body where it is needed for driving. (Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner).
Preparation is key – If you cannot buy what you need at a race weekend, you need to prepare it. This applies to both food, and drink.
Maintain good daily nutrition – think five fruit/veg a day even on race weekends. NHS Eat Well Guide
Recovery – Post-race you need to think about replacing the energy you’ve burned. You should make sure that your recovery foods are high both in protein and carbohydrate as this will help the body recover and adapt. Something like a piece of fruit or oat based cereal bar will provide a quick boost of carbs and a pint of milk will give a good hit of protein to get the recovery started.


  • Review your own eating – keep a food diary
  • Eat slow release carbs – particularly on race day
  • Consider whole, natural produce
  • Check the packet – know what you are eating
  • Eat at least 5 a day fruit and veg
  • Eat more than 3 meals a day using healthy snacks in between main meals
  • Keep unhealthy fats and sweet things to a minimum
  • It takes 24h to rehydrate – start hydrating the day before
  • Drink little and often and monitor your hydration level
  • Carry a water bottle with you
  • Get support from friends and family
  • Stick to the rules 80% of the time

For more information visit the Motorsport UK Competitor’s Learning Hub or the Competitor’s Toolkit. If you have any queries or suggestions for future competitor guides, please email our Learning and Development Team at