The Importance Of Good Diet To A Boxer
For anyone involved in boxing, a good healthy diet is necessary for many reasons. So i'm going to dive into the topic of proper nutrition in this section.
To put it bluntly, a good diet plan is crucial for a fighter, it's as simple as that. All boxers need to eat well in order to maintain strength and provide you with sufficient energy to cope with the heavy demands that are placed on your body, both during arduous training sessions and in actual bouts. Successful boxer's need felexibility, quick movement, stamina, strength and energy, so a nutritious diet plan plays a major part in helping you to achieve those goals.
Boxer's are different from other sportsmen though as they are also restricted by fighting in particular weight classes, so your diet regime must provide you with sufficient muscle and power, while allowing you still stay close to the top of your weight limit range, to maximise your strength and energy. That complicates matters even more and makes your diet a vital component in your success.
Ideally, you should always aim to stay within 3 - 5% of your maximum allowable fighting weight limit during training, so you don't have to try and lose weight fairly quickly as a fight approaches. Hurried weight loss before a bout can often result in a much reduced performance in the ring, so for all boxers, proper nutrition is vitally important.
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What To Eat As A Boxer
What is a good diet for a boxer?
A good healthy diet for all boxers has to include carbohydrates, proteins and fats. They are all vital for providing the energy and nutrients that a fighter needs daily.
Calculating Your Dietary Needs
To begin with, here is a quick guide so that anyone at all can roughly calculate their daily dietary needs.
You require approximately 1.3 Calories per hour for every 1Kg (2.2 pound) of your body weight, just to function normally - So if you weigh 65Kg (143 pound), you will require 65 x 1.3 x 24 = 2,028 Calories per day just to remain healthy.
When you exercise/train you require an extra 8.5 Calories per Kg of body weight for every hour you workout. So if you train for two hours per day, you will require an extra 65 x 8.5 x 2 = 1,105 Calories. Making your required calorie intake that day amount to 3133 Calories (2,028 + 1,105)
Some of those calculations can get a wee bit complicated, so i have gathered some calculators together that do the complicated part. Just click on any of the links below, enter your details and they'll do the calculation for you.
BMR Calculator BMI Calculator Body Fat % Calculator Daily Calorie Calculator Maximum Heart Rate Calculator
VO2 Maximum Calculator Daily Energy Calculator WHTR Calculator Your Daily Fat Requirements Calculator
Your Daily Protein Requirements Calculator Your Daily Carbohydrates Requirements Calculator
Boxing is an anaerobic sport which means you have to maintain high energy levels, so your diet has to include nutrients which will provide you with the correct power, strength and weight ratio. That is best done by creating a diet plan which includes food that provide you with high energy while also having a low fat content. For those reasons, carbohydrates are the ideal foodstuff for a healthy boxer's diet as carbohydrates release energy slowly over a sustained period of time, replacing your bodies depleted glycogen store and increasing your stamina for the training and boxing bouts. Some carbohydrates though, especially processed carbohydrates that come from white flour (such as white bread and pasta), also contain calories that are not so useful as they have low nutritional value. So preferably, you should take natural carbohydrates instead, such as beans, whole grain cereal, sweet potatoes (also called yams in some countries), fruits and porridge, as they are all packed full of useful nutrients.
As carbohydrates are such an effective source of energy, your boxing diet should ideally include more of them than any other foodstuff.
Many sports nutritionists recommend that 45 - 55% of a boxers diet should be made up of carbohydrates.
For example, out of a boxers daily diet that consists of 4000 calories - 1800 to 2200 of those calories should be derived from natural carbohydrates, roughly equating to 550 grams (1.2lbs) in weight.
You can use this calculator to work out your own daily carbohydrate needs (link opens in a new tab)
In boxing, whether during training or an actual fight, you will often experience wee tears in your muscles, causing you to feel tired and sore, so it is crucial that sufficient protein is included in your diet. That protein works to repair damaged muscle and increase muscle growth, preventing longer lasting damage, but it also acts as a further energy source, preventing your body from using its own muscle as an extra source of energy.
Chicken, Tuna, Eggs and Lean Beef are all excellent sources of protein, as are protein drinks, although those should only be taken by people engaged in serious and intensive training routines. For concentrated muscle increase, you should take a protein drink during the training sessions and another one immediately afterwards, as part of your diet regime.
Many sports nutritionists recommend that protein should make up 30 to 40% of a boxers daily diet.
You can use this calculator to work out your own daily protein needs (link opens in a new tab)
Everyone already knows that excessive fat comsumption will cause unwanted weight gain and has be avoided, boxers do need some fats included in their diet to maintain important bodily functions though. OMEGA-3 and OMEGA-6 FATS, also known as Essential Fats or Fatty Acids, are both needed for the production of a type of hormone which keeps the body in good working order. Seafood and Walnuts are ideal sources of Omega Fat, or alternatively, Flaxseed Oil and Cod Liver Oil can be taken as diet supplements.
A healthy body also needs Monounsaturated Fats which are found in foods such as Olives, Seeds and Avocados.
Many sports nutritionists recommend that boxers should make sure that roughly 15% of their daily diet is made up of Essential and Monounsaturated Fats for maximum health benefits. Good Fats absorb certain vitamins that are essential for a healthy body, so keeping your fat intake to lower than 15% is likely only to have a negative effect on your body.
You can use this calculator to work out your own daily fat needs (link opens in a new tab)
Water is an essential part of the diet for staying healthy and energised, particularly in a strenuous sport such as boxing where it is very easy to become dehydrated. So you should ensure that 8 - 10 Glasses of Water are included in your Daily Diet, increasing the water consumption during a fight. There is much more detailed advice about water consumption further down this page.
What NOT To Eat
The following foods are all high in fat and sugar content, so although they may provide you with a quick burst of energy, they are short lasting energy sources and will soon cause you to feel tired, sluggish, and put on unwanted weight. For this reason they should be omitted from a fighters diet as far as possible:
Fast food/ takeaways
Food high in sugar e.g. sweets and fizzy drinks
Off Season Diets
What is a good off season diet for a boxer?
During the period when a boxer is not in fighting or pre fight training, your diet will need to change slightly due to the less intensive training schedules. Sports nutritionists usually recommend that during the off season period, a boxers diet should alter slightly to contain a daily ratio of 60% Carbohydrates, 20% Protein and 20% Fats.
Pre Fight Diets
What is a good pre fight diet for a boxer?
In order to delay feelings of tiredness during a fight, a boxers pre-fight diet must include food that will provide energy, be easily digested and maintain normal blood sugar levels during the course of the fight. Sports nutritionists recommend that a healthy diet plan for a boxer should involve taking increasingly smaller meals as a fight gets closer, sticking to lighter starchy foods such as Brown Bread Sandwiches, Fruit and Cereals. Most Vegetables, Beans and Bulky Fruits should be avoided as these can cause diarrhoea, and similarly Cabbage and Dry Beans can be a problem, given their gas forming potential in the gut. You should also never add new foods to your diet just before a fight, to avoid the risk of you having a bad reaction to it.
Fighters should Drink 400 - 600 ml of water two or three hours before the fight to help maintain hydration, although drinking too much water just before entering the boxing ring can have an adverse reaction too.
Post Fight Diets
What is a good post fight diet for a boxer?
The main intention of the after fight diet is obviously to help your body recover as effectively and quickly as possible, by restoring your glycogen levels and preventing your body from consuming its own muscle mass for energy. So immediately after a fight, your diet should contain foods which are high in protein and carbohydrates, but low in fibre, eating a similar meal every two hours. The recovery meal is even more effective if it is liquidised, as your body will digest it more quickly. The combination of protein and carbohydrates in the post fight diet helps in the repair of your muscle tissue, speeding up your period of recovery. Once six hours have passed since the fight, you can return to your normal diet again.
General Boxing Dietary Tips
Eat five or six meals every daySpace meals out at regular intervals: Dieticians recommend that boxers eat meals roughly every three hours, to keep insulin to the optimum level.Eat as many nutritional foods in your diet as possible,: Food such as Fruit ,Vegetables, Brown Rice and Pasta contain lots of useful vitamins, minerals and fibre, which allows your body to function as effectively as possible. Dieticians recommend that 25 to 35 grams of a boxers daily food intake should be classified as high fibre.Include plenty of starchy foods such as Wholegrain Cereal, White Pasta, and Sweet Potatoes (Yams) in your diet to maintain optimum health and energy levels.Ensure consumption of the recommended amount of healthy fats, and take diet supplements if necessary.
Include a good variety of foods to ensure your body gets as many nutrients as possible, whilst maintaining the correct ratio of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Take Multi-Vitamins regularly as part of your boxing diet to ensure that your body is receiving all the necessary vitamins for maximum performance and health.Eat a light snack before bed, such as a piece of wholemeal toast, but avoid eating too much as sleep may be affected.Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Eat carbohydrates just before bedtime as your body will not burn them off whilst you are sleeping.
Have good and bad days. Boxers should be in good health leading up to fights, and between fights, to maximise training potential and performance. Binge eating and crash dieting should be avoided at all times as these will effect health, cause poor weight control and adversely affect your boxing ability.
Eat sugary substances such as chocolate, sweets, and cakes, as these will have a negative effect on the body’s performance.
Drink sugary water based drinks, such as carbonated drinks or cordials.
What is a good water intake for a boxer?
Proper hydration is very important for a boxer during a training workout, or an actual fight. It is fairly obvious that you will quickly begin to struggle physically and mentally if you are dehydrated, so everyone knows that you should drink plenty water while exercising, but not everyone knows that it can be almost as bad if you drink too much water during those sessions.
Ever tasted your own sweat? Yes, it's salty.....As you sweat, you lose fluid that contains vital salts and minerals from your body, so you need to regularly top up with water (preferably water that contains electrolytes), or it will badly affect your performance. You have to try and keep the balance right though because if you overload yourself with too much water, you begin to dilute your salt and mineral levels, which will also have a detrimental affect on your body.
So how much water should a boxer drink as part of a healthy diet?
Well as a basic rule for the average person working out, it is roughly 5 ounces of water for every 15 minutes of exercise. If you are a boxer, that can make the difference between winning and losing. To begin with, calculating your required water intake more precisely during exercise can be a matter of trial and error as everyone is different, but here is a way that should help you to get a pretty good idea of your own personal fluid requirements - Weigh yourself immediately before the workout and then weigh yourself again immediately afterwards. If you have lost any weight, you are not taking in enough fluids while training. If you have gained any weight, you are taking on too much water. After a short time, you will soon figure how much fluid intake is just right for you.
As for drinking those fluids - Get into the habit of sipping your water at regular intervals when workng out, don't wait too long and then gulp some down instead when you begin to feel thirsty.
Boxers Will Also Need Some Nutritional Supplements
* First of all avoid ALL illegal drug supplements *
The Nutritional Supplements in this guide are very effective and at the time of writing they comply fully with the rules of boxing. Check up though as the rules may differ slightly in your country.
Multi Vitamin Minerals
Boxers are constantly on the move in the ring and that means you will lose vital vitamins and minerals from your body very quickly through sweat. If you do not supply your muscles with the minerals and vitamins they need, you are going to tire much more quickly and your legs can lose strength. What’s more, you may begin to experience cramping in your thighs and calves during a fight. So you need quality Multi-Vitamin and mineral products added to your diet to help avoid this.
Your ideal Time-Released Vitamins and Mineral product will be high in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, and the B Vitamins.
Vitamins C and E are powerful Anti-Oxidants that help to protect your immune system. Zinc is necessary for the production of muscle supporting hormones. The B Vitamins help a boxer to build new muscle tissue and prevent muscle tissue loss during long bouts of endurance activity. A quality Multi-Vitamin and Mineral product added to a boxers diet will also help to repair damaged muscles after a long fight or work out. By speeding your recovery, you can resume full strength again more quickly. Time Release Multi-Vitamins are best taken with a meal in the morning when you first get up, and then again in the mid afternoon with lunch.
Whey Protein is an ideal protein provider in a hard working boxers diet. In clinical trials, Whey Protein has been shown to be very effective for building muscle, reducing body fat and helping to supply the hard working muscles with energy during exercise. In doing so, it help protect your muscle from breakdown. Used post workout or post match as part of your diet, Whey Protein quickly enters the muscles and repairs damage. This repair process will also result in muscle growth and added strength. It has also been shown in clinical trials to improve mental function. Increases in muscle tissue and decreases in fat tissue will help increase your agility and toughness in the ring.
Whey Protein is best taken as part of your diet prior to and after, exercise or a bout.
In the boxing ring you need to have endurance, energy, and every punch needs to be explosive, well-placed, and damaging to your opponent. Creatine Monohydrate is probably the world’s most popular supplement and it can help to greatly improve your energy levels and explosive strength, if added to your diet. The more muscle you maintain, the more strength and power you will have. If you lose strength, you lose much of your ability to be effective in the ring. Creatine as part of a healthy diet can help prevent that muscle loss.
Creatine monohydrate has been scientifically proven to improve memory, thinking ability, and hand-to-eye coordination too. By increasing your thinking abilities, creatine can help you keep the psychological edge if added to your diet. Creatine can be loaded into muscle tissue by taking twenty grams per day for five days, followed by five grams daily for an eight week period as part of your diet. A more effective way to dose Creatine is to take 10 x 2.5 gram doses daily. This will ensure maximum absorption and maximum results. As excess sugars can result in more body fat and creatine can cause dehydration, you must be careful with your fluid intake.
PS - There are more powerful hybrids of Creatine available now. As with all of those types of food supplements, my advice is to check up on them and read about all the possible side-effects, and legality for use by boxers before you consider adding them to your diet. Chances are that won't be legal in boxing circles, so you have been warned.
Glutamine added to your diet helps protect your immune system from the potential harm that can come from long sustained bouts of exercise. It can also help to improve your endurance by supplying hard working muscles with critically important Amino Acids. Long bouts of exercise can deplete your glycogen levels, and glutamine can be used as a glycogen source during long strenuous workout sessions. Glutamine protects your muscle tissue from wasting and it helps to improve your performance by allowing you to recover more quickly from exercise. No boxers supplementation diet is complete without a quality glutamine supplement. Glutamine is best taken in divided dosages throughout the day. It is usuallly taken 4 times a day - When you first get up, at lunch, dinner, and then before going to sleep at night. In this way, the glutamine delivers the best results.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’S)
Essential Fatty Acids added to the boxers diet help make just about everthing work much better - Brain. muscles, tendons, joints, and your digestion in general. They also help provide the healthy body with the energy essential for high impact sports such as boxing.
If your fighting weight has crept up, crash dieting is never a good idea to get back down to your weight class limit again. The best solution to this is to always eat a proper healthy diet and never get into the position where you have to quickly lose weight in the days prior to a weigh in, under any circumstances. If you are in that unfortunate situation though, there is no real easy way to quickly lose weight without possibly affecting your performance in the ring.
Your best hope is - In the two to three days prior to the weigh in, avoid excessive salt intake to help cut down on your fluid retention. Adopting a Low Residue Diet for the last 24 hours before the weigh in will help to reduce weight further as it will empty the gut of undigested food and fibre, that alone can easily amount to a pound or two. Some good low residue foods for this are - Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, White Bread, Jam, Honey, Juice, Low-fat milk, Tinned fruit, Jam, Clear soup, White pasta, White rice, Tomato based pasta sauce, Liquidised meal (Meal Replacement Shake)
A lot of your body weight is made up of water, so using a sauna or a sweat suit sure will help to reduce your weight quickly. Unfortunately though, unless you are used to being dehydrated and fighting or training under those conditions, it will have a very adverse effect on you and also greatly increase the stress on your heart. As for Sweat Suits - Rubber, plastic and vinyl suits are very harmful and totally ineffective for losing weight safely. Your core body tempreture can quickly rise to an extremely dangerous level when using them. Rubber suits drain water and electrolytes from the body, but do not allow the body to breathe. In extreme cases, there have even been cases of death from using this method.
Another useless way for the boxer to try and quickly lose weight is to use Albolene Cream. Whether it actually helps reduce weight or not, i don't really know and i couldn't care. What i do know though is that it thins and softens the skin. Now i know plenty boxers who would benefit greatly from having nice soft skin and using some other beauty enhancement products. ^_^ However, it's hardly good news for a boxer as soft thin skin cuts much more easily during a fight.
The ideas on this page has been mostly general advice about a boxer's healthy diet. Some much more detailed advice, and suggested diet plans, are available at the links below.
Meal Plan For A Boxer To Maximise Their Power To Weight Ratio - Read More Here
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