Boxing Nutrition & Sports Supplements for Boxers
As much of the energy expelled in the sport of boxing is of the fast, explosive kind, boxers need a clearly defined aerobic foundation that will allow them to optimise their performance throughout a fight.
Additionally, because there are several different weight divisions in boxing, there are a whole range of nutritional and dietary programmes that can be put in place that will help a boxer gain a performance advantage over their opponent.
If you are a competitive boxer you will probably need to train around three times a day in the build-up to a competition or fight, and each session should include weight training, running, sparring, technical skill work and conditioning, such as work with a medicine ball and skipping.
To optimise your nutritional intake it is imperative that you consume foods that are full of beneficial nutrients such as carbohydrates, iron, protein, vitamins and minerals
Making the weight
In an attempt to maximise your power-to-weight ratio, which is crucial in paving the way to success in this sport, you should seek to reduce/optimise your bodyweight just before a competition.
Although boxers generally have large kilojoule (energy) needs due to the demands of their punishing daily training schedules, the fact is that you will often have to limit your nutritional consumption in order to make the weight leading up to a competition.
This means that you have to be very careful with your choice of both fluids and food if you are to recharge, replenish and repair muscle sufficiently between training, while at the same time maintaining a low intake of energy.
It is a delicate balance but can be perfected with practice.
As a boxer, when seeking to optimise your daily nutritional intake it is imperative that you consume foods and nutritional supplements which are full of beneficial nutrients such as carbohydrates, iron, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Fatty snacks, such as chocolate and crisps, and carbohydrate rich foods or fluids that are free of nutrients (soft/fizzy drinks, for example) should really be avoided, or be indulged only occasionally.
As there are several different weight categories in boxing, strict dietary measures have also to be employed prior to a fight.
Prior to competition your goal should be to achieve a slow mass and body fat reduction for around eight to ten weeks, thus increasing your power to weight ratio which should help to optimise your fight performances and potentially give you a substantial advantage over your opponent.
If you have not achieved your weight category limit 24 to 48 hours before the weight-in, you will need to undergo a “low residue” diet with very slight fluid restriction so that you can shed the remaining pounds.
As there are usually between four hours and a day between the weigh-in and the bout itself there is usually ample time to consume and replenish food and fluids without impairing your performance.
However, be very careful with your state of hydration when attempting to make the weight; if you lose vast quantities of liquid and therefore become too dehydrated you risk serious problems, not only as far as performance is concerned, but to your health in general.
Preparing for boxing competitions and tournaments
Amateur boxing tournaments vary considerably in length and format and sometimes boxers may be asked to compete on a daily basis; although most international tournaments require competitors to fight every alternate day.
Be aware that if you are a title contender you may have to step into the ring four or five times if you are to eventually win the tournament, and, in view of the fact that each bout is of three rounds, lasting three minutes – if it goes the distance – with a one-minute rest between rounds, it can be a very arduous schedule.
On the first day of competition you will be required to weigh-in, along with every other competitor, but on subsequent days only those who are actually competing on that particular day will have to go through the process again.
During the course of a competition you need to be careful to balance your nutritional intake, even after weigh-in so that you can make the weight for the next bout.
Note that usually a minimum of three hours must elapse between the end of the weigh-in and the start of your fight so you will have some time to refuel and rehydrate where necessary.
Beware pizzas, chocolate, fizzy drinks!
Due to the strict weight classifications and the need for boxers to carefully control their weight, some fighters build up unhealthy food consumption habits of the “feast and famine” variety.
When not preparing for a specific boxing competition or bout they often indulge themselves on fatty, high energy foods such as pizzas, chocolate, fizzy drinks and alcohol.
They then artificially restrict their consumption of high-kilojoule foods aiming at speedy weight loss in the run-up to their next fight.
For the sake of your long term health you should try to avoid this “feast and famine” ritual by maintaining your weight as close as possible to that required in competition.
This more balanced approach will ensure that you reach your desired body mass safely without having to turn to extreme measures before the weigh-in, which can be detrimental to your performance and also potentially harmful.
Hydration for boxers
It is also crucial that boxers get their body fluid balance right.
Despite the dangers of dehydration it is still not uncommon to find competitors training in sweat-suits or heavy, non-breathable garments in order to encourage perspiration… avoid this approach.
Ideally you should drink regularly throughout your training to make sure that you stay correctly hydrated from the first training session to the last.
It is also important that you follow the routine of weighing yourself prior to and after training sessions or bouts to measure how much body mass you have lost.
This loss in body mass is an excellent indicator of the fluid you will have lost and failed to replace.
To rehydrate your body correctly you really need to replenish your fluid levels, to do this you should look to drink between 1.25 and 1.5 times the amount of fluid lost.
After an intense training session or boxing competition it is essential that you recover body carbohydrate and fluid stores before the next session.
The recovery process is vitally important and there are no two ways about it; boxers need to recover properly after fights or training sessions, especially if they want to keep their body at fighting-fit and in the best possible shape.
There are three golden rules to a boxers successful rehabilitation; and we refer to them as the three R’s:
Bodily carbohydrate stores (glycogen) must be quickly restored to allow performance levels to be maintained – the optimum time to restore muscle glycogen stores is during the first hour after a fight or training and this is when you need to consume carbohydrates.
If you do not replenish glycogen stores adequately however, recovery may well be affected leading to unwanted fatigue and poor performances may then follow.
Want to get involved in boxing?
If you’re not currently involved in boxing as a sport and are keen to learn more about taking part then read on. Here we’ve brought together a number of useful links to boxing organisations that may be able to help you.
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Get in touch now for more information about boxing nutrition and the use of sports supplements to improve your speed, power, strength and stamina for better fight performances. Our team of sports scientists and nutritionists are always happy to help.