In the February 2013 issue of Horse&Rider magazine, we asked Matt Luxton, the personal trainer behind the award-winning Equestrian Athlete Plan, what we should be eating to perform at our best.
To support that feature, here are some tips for choosing the right foods to get the best results. You can download Matt’s Equestrian Athlete Plan in full for £23.99 from www.theequestrianathleteplan.com.
Remember to consult your doctor before you make any changes to your diet.
The key food groups
Choose slow-release sources of carbohydrates, such as sweet potato or brown rice, which will keep your blood glucose relatively level and reflect in your performance and mood.
Protein is a major structural and functional part of our body’s cells. It provides about 10-15% of our dietary energy, and is needed for growth and repair. Not all protein can be stored in your body, so you need a daily intake from your food. You can get your protein from animal sources (chicken, eggs, fish) and non-animal sources (nuts, such as almonds, or pumpkin or sunflower seeds).
Fruit and vegetables
By eating whole, fresh foods, your body will become far more efficient at absorbing all the nutrients you need. Making the most of your energy starts from the inside out.
Dehydration has an impact on brain function (see below).
Eating sugary processed foods, like biscuits, sweets or cake, lead to more insulin being released into your blood to remove the sugars. This causes a yo-yo effect, where you have a burst of energy, then crash. You then reach for more sugar, which gives another temporary boost, followed by another crash.
Processed food/ready meals
Processed foods increase your body’s ability to store water and fat. Storing water is what causes bloating, as your body becomes effective at diluting the bad things you have eaten. Ready meals will impact your ability to absorb valuable parts of the food, too. If it comes in a packet, try to avoid eating it.
Milk, cheese and butter
Dairy products in the UK are not as nature intended as they go through the pasteurisation process, which can reduce the calcium levels. In fact, if you want to boost your calcium, you will get more from leafy vegetables than milk. For probiotic benefits, eat organic low-fat natural yogurt.
Alcohol and caffeine
Steer clear – they are nutrient robbers. Alcohol and caffeine will affect your energy levels, reduce your digestive capacity and upset your mental function. Try Tulsi tea or Red Bush tea instead – they are full of powerful anti-oxidants and can help reduce stress, too.
Good food list
Proteins, Fruit and Veg. Fats, Miscellaneous
Whole organic eggs
Free range chicken,
Free range turkey
Grass fed beef, buffalo,
All wild fish
Raw almonds, walnuts,
Raw nut butters from
the above nuts
overload on potato)
All fruits (not canned)
Cold pressed extra
virgin olive oil
Organic butter (not margarine)
(organic, extra virgin)
Organic peanut butter
Sea salt (no other salt)
Vegetables, sprouts, nuts and seeds, Fruit, oils, grasses, grains and beans