04/24/2009 AT 3:00 PM ET
At just 5-foot, 2-inches and 105 lbs., Danica Patrick needs the muscle to power-steer Indy cars at 200 mph – but how does she fuel up without packing on the pounds?
“I worry about the scale like anyone else, but I have to make it through five-hour races,” Patrick tells Shape magazine. “It’s a constant battle for me.”
Patrick, 27, who poses in a bikini on the magazine’s June issue, sticks to a high-protein diet with plenty of complex carbs. She starts every morning with a three-eggwhite omelet and a bowl of homemade oatmeal with cinnamon, flax meal, brown sugar, and a scoop of peanut butter on the side. For lunch, she prefers open-face turkey sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and sometimes a slice of cheese.
“I get hungry every three hours, so I also like to munch on an apple or whole-wheat toast with peanut butter,” Patrick says. “I like my food to be tasty.”
Not surprisingly, the pint-sized racer works out almost every day to keep up her endurance. During race season, she runs for an hour, then concentrates on upper body exercises that strengthen her shoulders, forearms, and back – moves essential for handling her 1,500-lb. vehicle.
To stay strong but in shape during the off-season, she works out with a trainer. But she doesn’t run herself into the ground, either: “I skip days here and there and don’t beat myself up for it,” she says. “My husband [Paul, a physical therapist] always reminds me to let my body rest.”
The couple enjoys cooking and sometimes making not-so-healthy dishes together, like pizza. “We add homemade tomato sauce, spinach, basil, and low-fat mozzarella,” she says.
It was a question over food, it turns out, that sealed the deal on their relationship.
“I knew Paul and I were made for each other when I asked him, ‘If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?’ He told me, ‘An egg, because you can cook it so many ways.’ That was my pick too!”