The Diet of Champions

For all athletes diet is key, but for boxers, it's make or break.

Due to the high demands of the sport energy-wise, boxers need fuel that provides strength, endurance and serious energy so they can maintain muscle strength and avoid fatigue mid-way through a fight. Sounds simple enough, however boxers are conditioned by the weight restrictions given to them in each specific class.

Ideally, boxers will try to stay as close as possible to the higher end of their specific scale weight-wise, giving them the most power and strength possible to defeat their opponent, however they need to stay within their weight class and not allow the scales to creep over their allowance.

Training diet will be almost the same as diet just before a fight; boxers should aim to stay within 3-5 % of their ideal fighting weight whilst training, as going on a drastic weight loss diet just before a fight can lead to a reduction in fighting performance.


So what exactly should be on the menu?

If you’re training hard for a fight, it figures that your body needs nutrients from every single food group – boxers follow a carefully calculated ratio of protein, carbs and fats for every meal. The model plate of food will consists of 45% carbs, 40% protein and 15% fat.

Carbohydrates: Since boxing is anaerobic, and requires athletes to maintain high energy levels for twelve intensive 3-minute rounds, a boxer’s intention should be to eat foods which will provide the correct strength, power and weight ratio which is best maintained by sources of high energy and low fat content. For this reason, carbohydrates are like foody gold-dust for boxers, with their slow releasing energy serving to keep a boxer going until the fight is good and won. Obviously less processed carbohydrates such as brown rice, brown pasta and grains are more useful given their high nutritional worth. Sweet potato, oatmeal and fruits are also good sources of carbohydrate, and will slowly release energy for sustained periods of time.

Protein: Protein is needed for muscle growth and repair, and since high impact sports such as boxing mean athletes often experience muscle tears, a diet high in protein is essential. Protein not only helps muscles grow and repair themselves, ensuring they remain strong, it also stops the body from using its much needed muscle for energy. Foods like eggs, chicken, tuna and lean beef have high protein content, and boxers should include as much of these in their diet as possible, as well as protein shakes. It is recommended they consume a protein shake during training and then another one for muscle recovery straight after a session.

Fats: Contrary to popular belief, fats do not make you fat. On the contrary, good healthy fats are an essential in every boxer’s diet, and crucial to maintain certain body functions. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats, also known as essential fats or fatty acids, are both needed for the production of prostaglandins, a type of hormone which keeps the body in working order. Seafood or walnuts are ideal sources of omega fat or alternatively flaxseed oil and cod liver oil can be taken as healthy supplements which are purified of the contaminants often found in fish.

Mono unsaturated fats, found in foods such as olives, seeds and avocado are also needed to keep the body in tip top condition. Keep the quantity low though, any more that 15% is too much and could lead to weight gain, hugely problematic for a boxer in training.


Timing is Everything

The key to eating well is eating little and often; ideally boxers should be eating 5-6 small meals a day at regular intervals in order to keep insulin and blood sugar levels steady and at the optimum level. It is also recommended that boxers eat a snack such as natural yogurt and berries before bed to keep their metabolism ticking over, such as yogurt and granola, but nothing heavy, as this could inhibit sleep, which is vital for a boxers muscle growth and repair. Finally, carbohydrates should be kept to a minimum in the evenings due to their high energy content; this energy isn’t needed at night when your body is resting, and therefore won’t be burnt off.


Avoid like the Plague

This one’s pretty obvious – if you’re a boxer (and therefore looking to avoid putting on any unnecessary weight) steer clear of foods high in saturated fat or sugar. Fried foods, chocolate, sweets and cakes are all no no’s as well as takeaways, fast food and fizzy drinks. Keep these off the menu and instead opt for food high in nutritional content, and you should find marinating a lean boxer’s physique is a piece of cake…