Two contrasting diets

One of the stories that emerged during the recent Olympic Games was the extraordinary diet of Michael Phelps who won eight Olympic gold medals this year. The swimmer takes in an incredible 12,000 calories per day. Here is his intake for the day:

  • Breakfast
    • Three fried egg sandwiches topped with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise
    • Two cups of coffee
    • Omelette made out of five eggs
    • Bowl of grits
    • Three slices of french toast sprinkled with sugar
    • Three chocolate chip cookies
  • Lunch
    • Half a kilogram of enriched pasta
    • Two large ham and cheese sandwiches of white bread with mayonnaise
    • 1,000 calories of energy drink
  • Dinner
    • Half a kilogram of enriched pasta (again)
    • A whole pizza
    • 1,000 calories more of energy drink

All I can say is, with a breakfast that big I hope he doesn’t have to commute!

This extreme diet reminded me of another extreme diet I read about earlier this year. It is not uncommon to hear about drivers stacking up on the pasta — the carbohydrates do them good over long distances.

But pasta is a big no-no for Robert Kubica nowadays. The pole is among the tallest drivers in F1 at 184 cm. That can be a major disadvantage in a sport where teams are always looking to trim unnecessary weight so that they can put ballast in the best position for the performance of the car.

There is also the fact that the cockpit of an F1 can be quite a confined space. Alexander Wurz was unable to deputise when Juan Pablo Montoya had his “tennis injury” a couple of years back because the Austrian still couldn’t fit into the McLaren car! In 1995 Nigel Mansell also struggled to fit into his McLaren, though that was probably more because he had grown outwards!

Over the winter, Robert Kubica went on an extraordinary crash diet which allowed him to lose an incredible five kilos in just five weeks. That is amazing for someone who looked so gaunt in the first place. This weight loss is said to be a major factor in his competitiveness this season. Here is a typical day in Kubica’s regime according to an article by Peter Windsor in the June 2008 issue of F1 Racing.

  • Breakfast: fruit
  • Lunch: A 50p-sized piece of chicken with some carrots and a sprig of broccoli
  • Dinner: “A forkful of protein”

(A 50 pence piece is 27.3 mm in diameter.)

“No carbs. No dairy. Nothing artificially sweet.”

The prospect of eating so little throughout the day would be bad enough for me, never mind being banned from carbohydrates! Like Michael Phelps, Robert Kubica has had to display tremendous self-discipline and commitment. It is just another reason why Robert Kubica is surely a future world champion.


  1. The diet story I picked up on at the Olympics and probably the only sporting diet I could cope with was Usain Bolt’s. After strolling to a new 200 metres world record he was asked about his preparation that day. ‘I got up and had some chicken nuggets and went back to bed. I woke again, had more chicken nuggets and went to the track.’

    Makes you wonder what he could achieve if he had a nutritionist and ran more than 70% of the distance flat out.

  2. Of course, perhaps Usain Bolt is just keeping his super high-tech diet a secret. Although I can see how chicken nuggets would work for an athlete…

  3. “the fact that the cockpit of an F1 can be quite a confined space. Alexander Wurz was unable to deputise when Juan Pablo Montoya had his “tennis injury” a couple of years back”…

    Wurz did deputize for JPM at Imola 2005… so he did fit in the McLaren.. he was on rotation with Pedro though.. I think he didn’t fit in the 2004 car.. the one with the explosive Merc engines 🙂

  4. It wouldn’t surprise me if he struggled to fit in the 2004 car. But he was definitely initially unable to fit into the 2005 car at first as well. Juan Pablo Montoya’s original replacement (for the Bahrain GP) was Pedro de la Rosa. The team worked to make sure that Wurz could race for the San Marino GP.

    Doesn’t say much in McLaren’s confidence in Pedro de la Rosa as a race driver!

  5. Khaled, that was after Adrian Newey had modified the car to give Wurz more space (initially Pedro de la Rosa had to substitute for Montoya). And even then, Wurz was driving one-and-a-half handed, since he couldn’t put both hands on the wheel when it was in certain positions…

  6. Alianora, I didn’t know that Wurz had to drive “one-and-a-half handed”. That makes his 3rd place finish all the more impressive.