Weight Maintenance Tips From Horse Racing Jockeys

06 February 2017

When it comes to eating less and staying in top shape there are not many healthy examples that we can turn to. More often than not, we turn to unhealthy and restrictive patterns, hoping to control our weight as much as possible. With the J&B met having occured recently in Cape Town, this made me wonder about Jockeys, who have it really tough when it comes to having to control their weight in order to fit within the constraints required by the sport.

I enjoy learning about how different sports men and women maintain good nutrition, especially where their sport of choice requires that they maintain a specific weight. For Jockeys, eating less while maintaining an athletic strength is crucial for horse racing. On the one hand, Jockeys have to keep their weight down to go faster on the course, but on the other hand, they also have to eat well enough to stay in top shape.

Very interested in this, I decided to do a bit of digging, and came across The Professional Jockeys Association. Here, 8 principles of racing nutrition are outlined to help ensure that competitors are getting the right amount of food for energy and strength, without putting on too much weight. The site makes it clear that "a jockey should not aim to eat any less than 1500kcal per day as this is unlikely to meet the energy needs of the body – when our bodies are not receiving and as enough energy, it becomes even more difficult to lose weight” – hence why obsessive dieting and starvation does not work in the long run."

It is interesting to see, that the focus for jockeys is very much about careful cooking in order to keep the calorie consumption low. Great British Racing made a list of championship winning jockeys' favourite low calorie meals. For example Hayley Turner, one of Britain's most successful female jockeys, loves to eat chicken and vegetable risotto. Her recipe serves four, at 300 calories per serving. One aspect of healthy eating Turner doesn't cut down on is taste, stating, "I usually add a measure of white wine and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese to serve."

Taste is a vital part of enjoying food, and also helps us to feel more satisfied – if our meals are all bland and boring, we won’t enjoy them, and therefore we certainly won’t feel satisfied either. One of the key reasons people give up a healthy diet is that they get hooked on the idea that it is wrong to eat any food that is high in fat or sugar only to completely give up and turn back to those foods anyway. The trick is to allow yourself a treat, so to create the perfect balance and keep up the motivation. One jockey who has achieved this is Sam Twiston-Davis. Journalist Russell Smith commended Twiston-Davis in one of his regular columns for UK-based horse racing and Grand National preview site Betfair, documenting how the young jockey has ridden more than 600 winners since he began his professional career in 2010. In an interview with Cotswold Homes, Twiston-Davis revealed to the magazine that he eats Haribo sweeta alongside his clean diet to keep his energy up during the day. He told the magazine that, "sweets don't weigh much and are a fast-burn." This shows how you don't have to forfeit everything you used to love to eat in order to lose weight. Everything in moderation remember!

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When it comes to losing weight everybody wants the quickest results and will try take shortcuts to get there, even jockeys.The Race Advisor informs that the sport used to be known for the phrase "wasting"where jockeys would take extreme measures to get their weight down. Now through nutrition studies it has been shown that a jockey can maintain a healthy lifestyle while living on the lighter side of life. So, if jockeys can do it then so can we right!? If we find a good balance by enjoying healthy wholefoods for the most part, while still leaving space for an occasional treat, then we can easily optimise our energy, maintain a healthy relationship with food and keep our bodies slim and toned.

What are your thoughts on effective ways to maintain a healthy weight?

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Yours in Health Always




* post contributed by Danny Adams and edited by Cara-Lisa Sham

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