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What Diet Should a Boxer Follow?

By Crystal, published on 17/05/2018 Blog > Health and Fitness > Boxing > A Guide to Perfecting the Boxers Diet

“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!

Why Should You Eat Before Boxing?

Training for English boxing, Thai boxing or Kickboxing should not be done on an empty stomach!

Nicola Adams is a Gold Medal Champion Boxer 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:

  • Provide energy during training
  • Provide enough nutrients to promote weight gain and muscle building
  • Below in fat, so you don’t strain the body during digestion

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.

When Should You Eat to be in Top Form During Training?

Follow a healthy diet as a boxer 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

Adapt your diet as a boxer to be healthier. 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

Each more often as a boxer to stay in shape 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.

What to Eat Before Boxing Training?

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:

  • Water in large quantities: it hydrates one’s body and muscles to prevent cramps and aches. Also, don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. When you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated and have lost too much water.
  • Carbohydrates which provide energy
  • Proteins to build muscle and promote recovery
  • Fats, but not just any kind, only the healthy ones! They are the second source of energy.


Make sure to eat a healthy diet before boxing training 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:

  • Vitamins and minerals to boost the immune system and build strong bones
  • Fibre to aid the digestive system and help you to feel more full and, therefore, eat less (you can find fibre in green, leafy vegetables)

Water is obviously essential, and when I say water, it truly means water. Powerade or any other energy drink cannot replace water!

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. Drinking too much water can be dangerous for brain function.

Carbohydrates are found in most foods that are not meats:

  • Cereals, like oats
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Rice
  • Fruits
  • Whole grain bread…

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.

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.

Proteins are found in meats but also in eggs, seafood, fish, dairy products, nuts and dried fruit.

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.

Foods to Avoid

Of course, there are foods to avoid if you want to be in top shape for training:

  • Bad fats that are difficult to digest: such as fast food and pre-packaged products
  • Fast-acting sugars: chocolate, candy, soft drinks, cakes, juices…
  • Acidic foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol which causes dehydration
  • Certain fruits with a high glycemic index: pineapple, dates, chestnuts, raisins, melon, watermelon

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.

Some Boxing Pre-Workout Snacks Ideas

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:

  • 45-65% of carbohydrates
  • 10-35% protein
  • 20-35% fat

Boxing training is essential to becoming a good boxer. 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:

  • A banana
  • Dried fruits
  • Two slices of toasted bread with jam
  • Dairy products such as yoghurt
  • A bowl of cereals with skim milk
  • Oatmeal with fruit

For a full meal two hours before training, here’s an example:

  • 100g of pasta or brown rice
  • 1 hard-boiled egg or a slice of lean ham
  • 33 cL of water
  • 1 fresh fruit: apple, grapes, pear, apricot, banana

Tip: Eating a fruit before the last evening meal can restore glycogen stores and rehydrate. Think about it!

“A Boxer’s Diet” Definitions

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.


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