Energy expenditure in professional flat jockeys using doubly labelled water during the racing season: Implications for body weight management

George Wilson, Daloni Lucas, Catherine Hambly, John R. Speakman, James P. Morton, Graeme L. Close*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


To formulate individualized dietary strategies for jockeys, it is vital that energy requirements are quantified. We measured total energy expenditure (TEE) over two separate weeks in spring and summer using doubly labelled water in a group of male flat jockeys (n = 8, 36.9 ± 5.7 years, 164 ± 8 cm, 54.6 ± 2.5 kg). Total energy intake (TEI) was self-recorded, as were all riding and structured exercise activity. Mean daily TEE was 10.83 (±2.3) and 10.66 (±1.76) MJ, (p = .61) respectively. Self-reported TEI were 6.03 (±1.7) and 5.37 (±1.1) MJ (p = .40), respectively, and were significantly lower than TEE (p = .01). Mean race rides were 17 (±6) and 13 (±3; p = 0.37) and horses ridden at morning exercise were 8 (±6) and 7 (±4; p = .77) respectively. Additional structured exercise was 76.25 (±95.1) and 52.5 (±80.9) min per week (p = .35), respectively. At the individual level, TEE was related to body mass and the level of non-racing physical activity, but not riding. Physical activity levels for TEE were 1.76 (±0.37) and 1.69 (±0.27; p = .59) and appear modest when compared with other athletes, and similar to age-matched non-athletes, suggesting that conventional sport-specific nutritional recommendations do not appear applicable. The large discrepancy between TEE and TEI suggests significant under reporting of dietary intake. These data now provide an appropriate framework from which to formulate jockey nutritional guidelines to promote the ability to achieve the daily weight target and improve athlete welfare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-242
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Issue number2
Early online date7 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

The authors wish to thank Sheikh Mansour Festival Abu Dhabi and The Racing Foundation UK, for funding this research. Additionally, we would like to thank Dr Jerry Hill for permission to undertake testing in racecourse weighing room areas and Bronson Goodman for help in data collection and collation. Finally, we would like to thank all the jockeys for their time and participation in this study.


  • athlete welfare
  • doubly labelled water
  • energy expenditure
  • Jockey
  • nutrition
  • weight-making


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