NUTRITION FOR RIDERS

freyaColumnist and personal trainer Freya Thompson makes healthy eating look a whole lot easier.

As riders, regardless of discipline, we require the same basic principles as most other sporting athletes: optimum physical performance, effective muscle mass, and lean body weight. Too heavy and we limit our horses performance, too weak and we struggle to not only control our mighty steads but with all the extra jobs such as stacking hay and carrying heavy buckets of water. We measure our horses feed and supplements, so why not our own?

Food with low glycaemic index (GI) is required to give our bodies energy over a long period of time. For us that means being able to cope with riding several horses before having to refuel. High GI gives us a quick burst of energy but can also result in an energy crash later on. This can be useful if we haven’t had any food in the last few hours and need some energy for your cross country round, as an example. Healthy examples of low GI are oats, kumara, pumpkin, and rice. Examples of healthy high GI are bananas, dried fruit, and sports gels.

Protein is important to help our muscles recover after a hard workout and also to encourage lean muscle development. It keeps us full which is important to maintain a healthy weight. Ideally protein should be taken at the end of a riding session, after stacking hay or scrubbing down troughs to aid muscle recovery. Examples of protein include a pot of yoghurt, a small handful of nuts, a few cubes of cheese and even a glass of milk.

Fat, the naughty word. Fat is important for maintaining a lean body weight. It fills us up, it encourages our body to utilize fat for energy, and it ensures our body does not break down muscle for energy. Fat is also used as a storage facility for numerous vitamins and minerals. With a normal diet it’s likely you’re getting enough fat, however if you have a dietary limitation, if you are vegetarian or vegan for example, you may need to have a think about where you are getting your fat intake from.

Hydration is the other important factor for athletic nutrition for performance. It helps our muscle contract smoothly, aids in muscle recovery, and allows our kidneys to work effectively and keep our electrolyte levels balanced. The first sign of dehydration is a lack in energy so instead of reaching for an energy drink or coffee, grab a bottle of water.

In summary, Low GI before exercise, High GI when required for short bursts of exercise, protein after, fat all the time, water throughout.

Freya gained her Bachelor in Sport and Exercise from Massey University in 2009 and has been working as a personal trainer for the past six years. She works with the New Zealand Jockey Apprentice School to encourage a healthier lifestyle and therefore longer careers for young jockeys. She has competed in a variety of disciplines including Level 4 dressage, show jumping up to 1.20m, and 1* eventing. She has also ridden track work for several years and retrained several ex-racehorses into sport horses. Most recently Freya has been competing in Muay Thai. Over her 16 fight career she gained three New Zealand titles and was in New Zealand team at 2014 World Muay Thai Championships.

*This information is for general population. If you have any medical conditions seek advice from a health professional before changing your diet.

Freya gained her Bachelor in Sport and Exercise from Massey University in 2009 and has been working as a personal trainer for the past six years. She works with the New Zealand Jockey Apprentice School to encourage a healthier lifestyle and therefore longer careers for young jockeys. She has competed in a variety of disciplines including Level 4 dressage, show jumping up to 1.20m, and 1* eventing. She has also ridden track work for several years and retrained several ex-racehorses into sport horses. Most recently Freya has been competing in Muay Thai. Over her 16 fight career she gained three New Zealand titles and was in New Zealand team at 2014 World Muay Thai Championships.

*This information is for general population. If you have any medical conditions seek advice from a health professional before changing your diet.

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