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By Nick Wall - AfN Reg Nutritionist MSc Nutritional Expert at Nick Wall Nutrition

Okay, hear us out on this one.

If you drive for a living, you might not think of yourself as comparable to Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen – but some of the demands on you, as a long-distance lorry driver, really do overlap with the elite of the racing world.

Long-distance driving requires skill, energy, endurance, and intense concentration. And, like the best of the best, you need the proper fuel to keep your reaction times sharp, and performance-hindering fatigue at bay.

The challenge lies in the fact that HGV drivers don’t always find it easy to live a healthy lifestyle. With long days (and nights), extended periods of time spent sitting, and a lack of nutritious options at motorway service stations, a lot of long-distance lorry drivers are faced with weight-gain – along with heart problems in later life.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. What you do is incredible, and you deserve to live a suitably healthy lifestyle that rewards you for your hard work.

Fuelling for Performance

Food has the ability to affect everything from mental clarity, mood and memory, to our ability to focus. That’s why Formula 1 racers are so careful with their diets – and why HGV drivers would really benefit from fuelling for performance, too.

As a driver, making sure your diet is full of foods that support your brain health, energy levels and concentration is crucial. But what food serves you best when you’re on the road?

GoVida nutritionist Nick Wall explains that Omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants are all known to support brain health, while iron and potassium are excellent for boosting energy and concentration levels. Foods that contain these naturally are perfect for helping drivers to stay awake and maintain concentration.

Try to stock up on fatty fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, bananas, sweet potatoes, apples, quinoa, yoghurt, porridge oats, edamame beans, spinach and blueberries (if you’re interested in why, read the bullet points below).

  1. Fatty fish (such as salmon) is an excellent sources of Omega-3. Go for tinned versions for ease and storage when on the road overnight; fresh is great if you’re only out for the day.
  2. Eggs are a great fat source and contain almost all of the essential vitamins needed by the body. They’re also really handy to keep in a tub in your truck to snack on.
  3. Seeds and nuts contain micronutrients like zinc, copper, magnesium, vitamin E and iron. Some help guard against neurological disease, but iron in particular can help to prevent brain fog and impaired cognitive function.
  4. Bananas contain carbohydrates, potassium and vitamin B6 – all of which help to boost energy levels.
  5. Sweet potatoes boast complex carbs and are brilliant for the brain, nervous system, and immune system. You could cut them into chips, roast them, and snack throughout the day.
  6. Apples have a good amount of fibre and can provide a slow and sustained energy release to keep you going steadily without feeling a sugar rush. 
  7. Quinoa has a low glycaemic index, which indicates that its carbohydrates are absorbed slowly – providing a sustained energy release. These are great to add to a salad on the road.
  8. Yoghurt contains simple sugars that, when broken down, can provide a dose of ready-to-use energy. Be sure to look for yoghurts that contain 5g (and under) of sugar per 100g.
  9. Porridge oats can help the energy production process; they are also proven to lower cholesterol.
  10. Edamame beans have high amounts of vitamins and minerals that can help increase energy in different ways. Again, these make great (and very handy) on-the-go snacks. 
  11. Spinach has the potential to improve mental clarity.
  12. Beans help with energy production and aid the delivery of energy to every cell in your body.
  13. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, which stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, and keep the mind fresh.

Preparing for Success

All these energy-boosting foods are great for the road and don’t take much preparation, making them perfect for HGV drivers. A handful of nuts, fruit and a few eggs (in addition to regular water, a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner) will keep your energy levels up throughout the working day. 

And while service stations inundate you with junk food aplenty, you can usually pick up some fruit, a salad, mixed nuts, raw veg, and bottles of water. However, we’d always recommend prepping in advance and making sure you’re stocked up with nutritious foods and drink to keep your body properly fuelled, and your mind razor sharp.

Try to view food prep as your version of F1’s training: you have an important job to do, and you know your performance is going to be influenced by everything that leads up to that moment.

You are an endurance athlete in your own right, and you deserve to feel your best.

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