01.06.2014 | Review Article | Ausgabe 6/2014
Weight-Making Strategies in Professional Jockeys: Implications for Physical and Mental Health and Well-Being
- George Wilson, Barry Drust, James P. Morton, Graeme L. Close
Professional jockeys are unique amongst weight-making athletes given that they face the requirement to make weight daily. Furthermore, unlike other weight-limited sports, jockeys who have engaged in rapid weight loss cannot fully rehydrate prior to competition because post-race weight must not be more than 1 kg different to their pre-race weight. As such, jockeys have reported a variety of acute and chronic methods to make weight that include sporadic eating, caloric restriction, diuretics, laxatives, vomiting and fluid restriction as well as regular use of sweat suits and saunas. Typical daily energy intake is reported to be 6.5–8.0 MJ (carbohydrate 3 g kg−1 body weight, fat 1 g kg−1 body weight, protein 1 g kg−1 body weight) and jockeys also exhibit micronutrient deficiencies that include vitamin D and calcium. Accordingly, the combination of low macronutrient, micronutrient and fluid intake results in poor bone health and abnormal mood profiles and can also impair simulated riding performance. Although the energy cost of real-world training and racing is unknown, energy expenditure during simulated race riding and total daily energy expenditure was 0.20 and 11.0 MJ, respectively. Such estimates of energy expenditure are considerably lower than that of other sports and suggest that conventional sports nutrition guidelines may not be applicable to the elite jockey. Furthermore, the use of daily diets that emphasise a high-protein and reduced carbohydrate intake (in the form of six small daily meals) in combination with structured exercise has also proven effective in reducing body mass and maintaining target racing weight. In this regard, available data suggest the need for those organisations responsible for jockey welfare to implement widespread educational programmes to assist in improving both the physical and mental well-being of professional jockeys. Given the high occupational risks associated with race riding (e.g. falls and bone fractures), future research should specifically target strategies to improve bone health through the use of structured weight-bearing exercise and correcting nutritional deficiencies.