Standing at 5ft 6” Jean Van Overmeire finds himself exploring new eating habits and diets to maintain his minimum riding weight of 54kg’s. We followed Jean around for a day to get a glimpse of what his daily nutritional intake looks like and why he’s chosen this healthy lifestyle to keep his weight down.
At 2.15am Jean’s alarm sounds. The first thing Jean consumes in a day is either a black coffee or a homemade smoothie before heading off to ride track work at Warwick Farm for his boss Bjorn Baker.
“Starting work so early in the morning requires caffeine” jokes Van Overmeire. “I usually have a long black to ensure I’m not consuming any more calories than required or I’ll make a smoothie as soon as I wake up which consists of kale, frozen berries, flaxseed meal, almond milk, chia seeds and dates.”
“After track work I’ll come home and have a couple of tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter with unrefined coconut oil. Doesn’t sound great I know, but it’s full of good fats and protein. I try my best to always go for organic, non processed foods to keep my body as clean as possible” explains Van Overmeire. “Then, depending on where I’m riding that day I’ll go and work out at our local park. Sometimes if I’m riding far away I won’t have time to do this. I usually work out for around an hour mixing between interval sprints, jogging, push ups and pull ups. It’s important I don’t gain muscle and instead just maintain my strength because muscle weighs a lot.”
Van Overmeire explains, “Depending on how light I’m riding, how hot it is on the day and how hard I’ve worked during track work depends on how much water I drink before race riding.”
“I might grab a long black on the way to the races and I keep a pot of raw almond nuts in my car. It helps me resist stopping at servos or fast food places while I’m on the road.”
“When I first started race riding I found it hard to resist all the sandwiches and homemade cookies and cakes in the jock’s room but now it’s second nature and I don’t even glance in that direction. I snack on fruit throughout the day to keep my energy levels up.”
“When I’m riding far away from home I’ll take brown rice and fish or cauliflower rice and fish with me for dinner after the races that I’ve prepared earlier on in the week or at weekends. I’ve found cauliflower rice is a great replacement for white rice or even brown and black rice because it’s so low in carbs and it keeps me feeling light.”
“If I’m riding in the metro area I’ll drive home and have dinner there. Dinner is often lentil patties and salad, a vegetarian chilli made with quorn mince or fish with brown/black rice and quinoa. I’ve cut all meat out from my diet because I find it makes me bloated and heavy. I’m not missing the protein thanks to the amount of veggies, nuts, beans and quorn meat I consume.”
“I’m only human so I do get sweet cravings, especially when I’m feeling tired. Luckily my auntie, uncle and partner all save me by often baking vegan treats for me.” Says Jean.
“I’d say that one of the hardest things when I started having to watch my weight was cutting out socialising. It’s near enough impossible to go to a social event or meet up with friends and avoid bad food or drink. I don’t miss going out on weekends and drinking alcohol but sometimes I miss going out for dinner with friends and family. I try and plan quality time with my partner or having dinner with my family on evenings where I’m just riding trials the next day or I have a day free from riding completely. Those days don’t come around too often at the moment but we make it work so it’s not all bad!”
The early starts usually see Jean getting into bed at around 7.30pm most nights when he’s riding in the metro area. He told us that when he was riding in the country he often survived off just a few hours sleep most nights of the week before getting up and doing it all over again.
There’s no doubting Van Overmeire’s dedication to his sport, the young hoop is extremely educated on his health and fitness and with the amount of winners he’s riding, it seems to be paying off!
We wish him all the success with his future and can’t thank him enough for his time.
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Words by Kiersten Duke