“It is in the anonymous and mundane shadow of the training room, both a refuge and a workshop, where a fighter is forged. »Loïc J.D. Wacquant
According to Statista, there were 200,000 people who participated in boxing in England in 2015/2016, a number that has increased sharply after the London Games.
This noble art attracts more and more followers each year, but before sweating it out on the skipping rope or giving their first uppercut in the ring, a world champion must first pay attention to their diet.
To gain muscle mass, gain weight, or lose weight (according to the category of boxer), and even with amateur boxing, you must pay attention to your daily calorie intake.
Fortunately, we are here to help!
Training for English boxing, Thai boxing or Kickboxing should not be done on an empty stomach!
Women’s boxing is on the rise, thanks to the Olympic Games! (Source: Telegraph.co.uk)
Not eating before boxing classes or competition can result in loss of energy, limiting the boxer’s performance and increasing his recovery time and the risk of injury.
As with all combat sports, boxing, when practised regularly, requires a special diet. It is not a question of following just any diet to lose weight or gain muscles, it is rather a re-balancing of the foods you eat to achieve a healthy and balanced diet. Boxers need more nutrients to get the energy they need during training and to help their body build muscles and recover faster.
The ideal diet of a boxer must:
A boxer’s eating habits must adapt to their training. They must eat more, without eating too much. It can be difficult to know how to balance each meal to avoid being hungry, but at the same time to not feel too heavy afterwards and suffer during training.
Whether you want to gain muscle or lose weight fast, you have to eat! (Source: ExpertBoxing)
Knowing when to eat is as important for a boxer as knowing what to eat!
Everyone knows that athletes must eat healthy by avoiding fast food and saturated fats, eating raw vegetables and fruits, and prioritizing a low-calorie diet.
But what we often neglect is the time of the day to eat.
Forget the 3 meals a day plan
Forget the 3 meals a day diet! (Source: ExpertBoxing)
The body uses energy constantly throughout the day, but obviously, the peak energy expenditure is reached during training.
As you hit your punching bag or work your cardio by skipping rope, the number of calories your body absorbs increases sharply.
Thus, the diet of a boxer should closely follow the daily energy consumption. That’s why, instead of the 3 big meals a day that are recommended during a standard diet, they should switch to eating 5 or 6 more reasonably sized meals.
When we eat too much, our body turns the excess into fat. If we cut calories but are still only eating 3 meals, we can feel hungry, and when we are hungry we eat too much at traditional meals, thereby accumulating more fat.
The main mistake is to wait too long between meals.
The longer we wait, the more hungry we are. We are, therefore, forcing our metabolism to slow down and increasing our fat storage since we will tend to overeat during the meal afterwards.
Pass to 6 meals a day
Eating 6 times a day can help you lose weight or gain weight depending on your goals. (Source: Expertboxing)
Six meals a day helps maintain a good level of energy throughout the day. A boxer needs only 2 big meals a day: upon waking and 1h30-2h before training.
It is necessary to start eating before being too hungry and to finish eating before being too full.
Between the two big meals, snacks can help out in any moments of hunger and help to maintain a good energy level. The evening meal must be light to allow for recovery. If you can follow this plan, you won’t be consuming any excess calories during the day, you’ll just get the ideal amount that you need.
Eat every two to three hours.
It’s a good idea to skip breakfast and eat it after your jog if you like to run in the morning. Running on a full stomach will make you feel nauseous, whereas running on an empty stomach can help you lose weight and work on your abs.
The meal two hours before your training must be adapted to the duration of your training. If you only go to the gym for 30 minutes, limit your meal. If you go for 3 or 4 hours, eat enough to last for the duration of the workout.
After your workout, it’s ideal to eat within 30 minutes, to promote recovery and so you don’t accumulate unnecessary fat.
Your trainer should go over nutrition with you; if s/he hasn’t yet, you should ask to cover it in your next boxing classes.
As we saw previously, snacking for a boxer is not only allowed but recommended! In fact, eating between main meals is beneficial in order to eat less and better.
But what should you eat on training days?
Foods to Eat
The diet of a boxer is composed of several essential nutrients:
Before putting on your shin guards and boxing shoes, be sure to eat well! (Source: Food.Gov.Uk)
Other nutrients must be present in a boxer’s diet:
Take a look below at our extended guide to what to eat when training.
Water is obviously essential, and when I say water, it truly means water. Powerade or any other energy drink cannot replace plain old water! It doesn’t matter if you drink it straight from the tap or you drink bottles of mineral water, keeping your water intake up is absolutely vital.
You have to start when you wake up and drink a lot before training. At least 3 litres of water a day. Do not exceed 6 litres in the day, however, as this can begin to cause problems for your body. Drinking too much water can be dangerous for brain function.
Boxers should eat natural carbohydrates, such as those found in sweet potatoes, peas, beans, wholegrain bread, lentils, oats, rice, fruits and honey.
A daily diet that consists of 4,000 calories should ideally have 1,800-2,200 calories from quality carbs. This equates to approximately 550g of food weight.
Look at the glycemic index of the carbohydrates you eat: choose complex carbohydrates that provide low blood sugar levels while maintaining a consistent level of energy.
Excellent sources of protein include eggs, lean chicken, lean beef, fish (especially tuna, salmon, halibut, cod, and tilapia), milk curd and cheese, beans, peanut butter, lentils, hemp and soy. It’s better to buy lean meats in order to avoid extra saturated fat and cholesterol, especially if you eat lots of meat. Furthermore, to preserve the goodness in lean meats, try not to fry them and instead grill or poach them.
Proteins must be ingested while respecting 30% of the daily intake. More protein than this can lead to dehydration and the accumulation of toxins, whereas less protein than this can lead to fatigue and injuries.
White meat is lean meat. It should be prioritized for its lower fat intake. Fish, in addition, contains essential fatty acids which aids in proper brain functioning.
Good fats help the body maintain key internal body functions like cell building, energy supplying, vitamin and mineral absorption, and more. These good fats are usually the unsaturated ones, also known as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.
Essential fats must be obtained through nutrition, and are called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They’re important for keeping healthy bones and joints, as well as stimulating good brain health.
Excellent sources of omega fatty acids include: olives and olive oil, seafood, nuts (like walnuts, cashews, almonds), coconut, avocado, and seeds (especially flax seed which is regarded as one of the best omega fat source), as well as organic oils like macadamia oil, canola oil, or coconut oil. Flax oil or fish oil supplements can be taken to boost your omega-3 and omega-6 intake.
Bad fats that should be avoided are saturated fats, i.e. meats like pork, fatty beef, lamb, poultry with skin, as well as lard, and milk products like butter, cream and cheese.
Saturated fats are also found in fast food and junk food, so these restaurants are best avoided.
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that is typically found in whole grains, nuts and seeds, wheat bran, vegetables and fruits, oats, and legumes. Fibre helps with digestion, bowel movement and keeping the body healthy. This macronutrient is also great for regulating weight, as it makes you feel fuller for longer.
Foods to Avoid
Of course, there are foods to avoid if you want to be in top shape for training:
At all times, avoid taking dietary supplements. Everything we need can be found in healthy food.
Energy snacks can be used occasionally during training when you lose sodium and, therefore, get dehydrated, but don’t make it a habit.
To eat a good boxing diet, check out these dos and don’ts.
|Carbs (yoghurt, grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes)||Raffinose (a carb found in beans)|
|Proteins (lean meat, lean fish)||Spicy foods|
|Good fats (avocados, cheese, eggs, olive oil, nuts and seeds)||Bad fats (found in Fast Food or food that has been fried)|
|Fibre (wholegrain cereal, fruit, vegetables)||Lactose-heavy foods like soft cheeses|
It is almost impossible to deny yourself the foods you love.
If you happen to love a good healthy meal, then good on you! However, if you can’t resist a hamburger and chips or a greasy pizza, then all you will be doing by banning these foods altogether is making you want them even more. Every once in a while, it is ok to treat yourself, so long as that approach works for you.
Some diets say that you can have one cheat meal a week, while others say that you can have an entire day of pigging out on your favourite foods. See what works for you, but most people find that having a ‘free pass’ day is a bit much as it can deprive you of all those great nutrients you’ve worked hard to ingest the rest of the week.
Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather also had to follow drastic diets before donning their mouthguards and getting ready for a heavyweight or lightweight fight in the ring.
The ideal meal, in order to build muscles, lose weight, and lose fat while feeling full, must be composed of:
Every boxing champion trains regularly. (Source: Pixabay)
Of course, you should be eating lighter snacks before putting on your boxing gloves and kicking, punching, and stretching at the boxing club.
Here are some examples of snacks you can eat before a workout or fight:
For a full meal two hours before training, here’s an example:
Tip: Eating a fruit before the last evening meal can restore glycogen stores and rehydrate. Think about it!
What you eat will all depend on how many times a day you intend to train.
If you plan to train twice a day like a pro, then it’s vital that you ingest the right nutrients and at the right times.
The Live Strong website recommends that you “Consume a liquid carbohydrate pre-training supplement consisting of 60 to 70 percent carbohydrates prior to your early morning workout. During your training session, sip on one to two bottles of fluid replacement drink. Immediately following your workout, consume recovery fuel consisting of 70 to 80 percent carbohydrate. For breakfast, consume a whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter, a banana and six egg whites.”
For your daytime meals, Live Strong suggests: “For a mid-morning snack, eat an apple, a can of vegetable juice, almonds and a protein drink followed by a 12-inch turkey sub on whole-wheat bread with vegetables and cheese for lunch.”
What does Floyd Mayweather eat in his diet?
The Telegraph reported on the boxing sensation’s diet, saying:
“Interestingly, Mayweather is perhaps not the shining example of how a boxer should eat. In an interview with New York Magazine, his former chef Quaina Jeffries spoke of how his love of fried hot dogs posed a challenge in preparing his body for a fight. Trying her best to make the meal nutritious, she would add oranges, orange zest and other spices. “We’re big on juice,” she told the magazine. And a typical juice for Mayweather at the time consisted of pineapples, oranges, strawberries, red peppers, red pears. “I slip in a carrot,” Jeffries confessed. “But I don’t tell him.””
Of course, Mayweather maintained a much healthier diet when faced with some of his biggest fights! The paper goes on to discuss what a good example of a boxer’s diet is.
““Consistency is key,” says Matt Smith, who trains current southern super featherweight titleholder Craig Poxton. Firstly, opt for small but regular meals – four to five a day. Secondly, choose foods of high nutritional value, cutting out the ‘empty’ calories you get from sweets and crisps. “The diet’s similar to the Paleo or low glycaemic diet. Look to eat quality protein in every meal. This can be red meat, eggs, poultry or oily fish. Healthy fats are in too such as avocado and nuts.”
And, just as Mayweather’s former chef disclosed, fibrous fruit and vegetables should make up a large portion of each meal. Fresh fruit and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help with repair and recovery. Root vegetables in particular provide slow release energy that will keep the boxer’s brain alert and aid performance.”
Live Strong once again comes up with suggestions on how to eat a balanced meal at the end of the day: “Prior to your afternoon workout, repeat the pre-training fuel from earlier followed by a post workout recovery supplement containing 70 to 80 percent carbohydrates. For dinner, consume a grilled chicken breast, whole-wheat pasta with sauce, vegetables and a salad. Consume a protein drink one hour before bed.”
How does Amir Khan feel about maintaining his healthy diet?
“There’s food that doesn’t taste good, […] but I force myself to eat it because I know it’s what my body needs: kale salad, celery, broccoli, carrots.”
This sums it up, really. It is much easier to eat healthily when you understand the benefits it has on your body.
Count your calories, pay attention to what you eat, weigh yourself, do your ab exercises… there are so many healthy habits to pick up when you want to become a boxer, kickboxer or any other kind of boxing champion.
What is England Boxing?
This is the governing body of amateur boxing clubs in England, also known until 2013 as the Amateur Boxing Association of England. It is responsible for governing, developing and the administration of boxing, whether it be in clubs or in competition.
What is Body Mass Index or BMI?
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a body fat and healthy weight measurement scale. Whatever your goals, whether you need to lose a few pounds or gain some weight, stick to your recommended BMI which will give you your ideal healthy weight range based on your age and height.
In the run-up to a fight, it can be hard to maintain the same daily diet as during your months of training. For instance, should you eat just before a fight or will this make you feel bloated and sick? If you do eat, what type of food should you eat?
Experts recommend you eat a banana before entering the ring, as this fruit is loaded with digestible carbs and potassium which are useful in maintaining nerve and muscle function (a huge bonus for anyone taking part in physical activity!).
Greek yoghurt with fruit is another good pre-fight snack. Greek yoghurt is packed with high-quality protein which can carry you through a long workout session or a fight.
Other suggestions by professional boxers are to eat an apple and peanut butter and cottage cheese and fruit.
What does Anthony Joshua eat for breakfast?
According to Sky, champion boxer Anthony Joshua eats “fresh fruit which he either eats, or has blended into a smoothie with oats to give him more carbs. Yoghurt and milk. Then four or five eggs (he prefers them poached) with smoked salmon and a bagel or toast. Then a load of veg, like spinach, peppers and onions.”
What you eat after a fight is just as important as what you eat prior to entering the ring. Why would you spend all of that time preparing your body for a fight to then let it all go straight away?
After a boxing match, your aim should be to accelerate the body’s recovering process by replenishing glycogen levels. This stops the body from using its own muscle mass for energy production.
Consider eating foods high in carbs and protein, yet low in fibre, and continue to eat every 2 hours. To help digestion, eat your meal with water or liquidize your meal.
The combination of carbohydrates and proteins speeds up the recovery of muscle tissue, which means that a boxer can return to their training sessions sooner rather than later.