It’s no accident when a professional boxer makes it to the top. It’s tribute to their focus, dedication and commitment not only to their training, but to their diets too. Boxers must pay far more attention to their diets than the average person, as proper nutrition is not just important – it’s critical. Healthy eating is the foundation of the speed, strength, and mental clarity required for success in boxing.
Other than the specific nutrition requirements of a pre-fight and post-fight diet, there are general nutrition guidelines that professional boxers follow in-between fights to ensure they maintain their athletic abilities. The off-season diet will change slightly from pre-fight training to accommodate the less intensive training schedule.
When it comes to dietary recommendations, there are so many variations of what is considered a ‘healthy diet.’ There are different macronutrient daily targets, meal frequencies throughout the day, and supplement recommendations that contradict one another and cloud the boxing and overall fitness industry. However, as each body responds to macronutrients, supplements and meal frequencies differently, it’s important to do what works for your individual body.
It is commonly recommended by dieticians that boxers maintain a ratio of approximately 60% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 20% fat in between their fighting season. During fight preparation, a heavy active training schedule will require additional protein to maintain strength and muscle mass. This would adjust to approximately 45% carbohydrates, 40% protein, and 15% fat.
Protein is vital for training recovery needs. Bag drills, sparring, lifting weights and performing conditioning exercises will break down amino acids in the body. As amino acids are the building blocks of protein, it’s important to consume quality protein sources through diet to satisfy muscle recovery needs and provide an additional energy source.
Complex carbs are more optimal for a boxer’s diet rather than simple carbs, as they provide long term energy for training requirements. Simple carbs include excess sugar, which lead to fat production as the body is unable to metabolise the additional sugar. Complex carbs, such as oats, rice and sweet potatoes take longer for the body to breakdown and release into the blood stream, meaning a steadier flow of energy will be gradually released while avoiding excess fat build-up.
Fat has been misconstrued in the public eye. However, the important differences between healthy and unhealthy fats are slowly becoming common household knowledge. Healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats derive from foods such as nuts, olive oil, and fish, etc. It takes several hours for the body to breakdown fats and transport to the muscles, providing a consistent flow of energy required for boxers. Healthy fats also aid in reducing cholesterol, while maintaining and developing cells throughout the body. The unhealthy saturated and trans fat (baked goods, fried foods, crisps, etc) should be avoided altogether, as they break the consistent flow of a boxer’s required energy levels.
Consistency is the key to a successful boxer’s diet. Making the right choice 51% if the time may get you somewhere, but making the right choice 95% of the time will help you succeed a lot quicker. There is no such thing as a one size fits all diet for boxers and athletes alike. However, these simple diet suggestions will allow boxers to sustain their energy levels between their preparation for fights to maintain their overall fitness levels.