A boxer’s diet is undoubtedly a crucial aspect of their preparation for a fight. The right nutrition is required to adapt to training stress/stimulus, to recover and to make weight (unless you happen to be a heavyweight).
The number of the calories that a boxer requires will depend on a number of factors including bodyweight, muscle mass and training programme.
A typical boxer will require between 3,000 and 4,000 calories per day. This is only a rough guide, a professional heavyweight boxer during training camp may need 8,000 calories+ per day.
How to Work out The Calories You Need
Begin by working out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) here
– Then use the Harris Benedict Formula, to work out your calorie requirements, based on your physical activity levels:
– If you exercise 1-3 days a week, multiply your BMR by 1.375
– If you train 3-5 days a week BMR x 1.55
– 6-7 days a week BMR x 1.725
– if you have a physical job and train most days, BMR x 1.9
I’m 5ft 10, 200lbs and train about 4 times a week. So my calorie requirement would be 3060 calories.
This is still only a rough guide. I would recommend monitoring body fat percentage and waist circumference. If your waist and bodyfat goes up – you’re probably eating too much!
Base of Micronutrients for Recovery & Well Being
Gone are the days (to a certain extent) when sports nutrition was all about pre-workout and post-workout nutrition…for recovery and adaptation to training a fighter requires a range of healthy organic fruit, vegetables and sources of protein.
Good sources of protein include hemp seeds, quinoa, organic meat and wild fish.
Boxers should also look to consume a high amount of omega 3, from sources such as flaxseed and fish oil. This is a slightly controversial topic, with many nutritionists arguing that plant-based sources as healthiest, with advocates of fish oil pointing out that vegan sources of omega 3 rarely contain much EPA – the part of omega 3 which has the most potent anti-inflammatory benefits.
Ah, another controversial topic in modern sports nutrition. A typical diet will consist of a high number of carbohydrate foods including oats, pasta, whole grains and glucose-based-drinks before, during and after training.
Lower carbohydrate, higher fat diets have become more fashionable of late, as well as the targeted ketogenic diet.
The targeted ketosis diet consists of a very low carbohydrate diet, day to day – with 50g of fast acting/sugary carbs consumed an hour before training. The 50g of carbohydrate could come from fruit or supplements such as maltodextrin.
Supplements for Boxing
Keep supplements to a minimum if possible.
The research behind whey protein and also creatine is pretty impressive however and difficult to argue with. Whey protein with 5g of creatine are ideal straight after training, with a source of carbohydrates such as a banana. 1 hour later look to consume a meal containing protein, fats and carbohydrate.
Baking soda is a great, natural supplement that is said to be good for your kidneys and to have anti-cancer properties (I’m not suggesting by any means that it cures it but baking soda is as healthy as supplements come).
Add 2g of baking soda to a litre of water and drink throughout the day – consider adding a small amount of lemon juice too.
Pre-training try 5g of baking soda. Be very careful to assess your tolerance however – too much baking soda = diarrhea.
Don’t forget your fight IQ!
People underestimate the importance of problem-solving and cognition for combat sports – this is crucial!
If you want to improve your Fight IQ for boxing, then watching boxing videos, study styles, practice mental arithmetic and brain training via websites like Luminosity and consider supplementing with Lion’s Mane Mushroom.
Foods and supplements such as lions mane mushroom and anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, ginger, tart cherry juice and rosehip are also great to consume daily, to offset any damage taken during training or fighting.
Uridine is another supplement that can help with Fight IQ and is said to protect brain cells etc. There are also some quite serious potential side effects, so stick with lions mane if you can afford it.
Another important supplement to protect your brain is Omega 3. Supplementing with fish oil can help reduce inflammation. I have read about people consuming a mega-dose of fish oil at 20-30g per day – however I would not recommend this for boxers as it can increase the risk for a bleed on the brain.
Boxers Diet Plan
- 2 liters of filtered/spring water per day (consider adding a little lemon juice or baking soda)
- 10 sources of fruits & vegetables per day (smoothies or greens powders make this easier)
Whey protein drink in water
High Protein Porridge:
2 cups of porridge oats
1 cup of ground almonds
Handful of sesame seeds
teaspoon of raw or manuka honey
15g Peanut butter
Handful of Kale
10g Cacao powder
5g Stevia (optional sweetener)
2 slices of wheat-free toast with organic peanut butter (no added sugar version)
2 rice cakes with organic peanut butter
Mashed banana mixed with almond butter on toast
Egg salad with goat’s cheese, lettuce and as many vegetables as possible
300ml hemp milk / full fat milk
2 pieces of high-quality dark chocolate
1 piece of fruit
Whey protein drink
Piece of fruit
1 tin of sardines
5pm – approx 1 hr before training
2 cups of wheat free cereal or porridge oats
with 150-200ml hemp or almond milk and a sliced banana
handful of nuts and seeds
20 mins before training
10g BCAA (optional)
Post Workout (within 30 mins)
1 piece of fruit (preferably a banana, as these contain glucose as well as fructose)
Post workout drink:
40g whey protein
500mg Alpha lipoic acid
15g Peanut butter
Handful of Kale
10g Cacao powder
5g Stevia (optional sweetener)
Evening Meal (1 hour after training)
Salmon – 100g
- Pour 125ml water in a pan per 100g of couscous, Bring to the boil. Take off the ring as soon as boiled. Leave to stand for 2 mins. Fluff with fork. Season. Add a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar.
- Salmon – poach in water, with a little butter for approx 15 mins.
- Roasted vegetables – onions, sweet potatoes, carrots. Chop up vegetables, put on a baking tray with oil drizzled on them. Add seasoning e.g. thyme or Chinese five spice. Put in the oven, 180 degrees for 15-20 mins.
350ml of coconut milk (beware that typical cartons contain about 2% coconut milk – tins or dried coconut milk tend to be better sources)
Calories approx – 3200
- For extra calories make an additional protein smoothie:
40g Hemp seeds/hemp protein powder
25g dried coconut milk
Handful of spinach
20g flaxseed powder/coconut oil
Blend together – makes 500 to 600 calories
Pecans – are also great source of extra calories. A 200g bag containing 1,400 calories is pretty easy to get through, especially if you add some goji berries and a fair amount of pink salt
*Please note that the diet plan above is a very rough guide*
Eat 5-10 portions of fruit & veg on top of the meals outlined above.
Hemp Smoothie would include – avocado, peanut butter, hemp seeds, kale, cacao powder (and maybe some stevia to sweeten or raw honey)
There are many ways to approach nutrition and meal preparation.
Many fighters stick to 5 or 6 small meals per day,
whilst others may practice intermittent fasting or prefer a ketogenic alkaline diet.
Some may consume supplements, whilst other boxers prefer to consume a plant-based whole-foods diet with no supplements at all.
Experiment and see what works for you. General principles remain however:
- Get plenty of fruit and vegetables 5-10 portions per day
- Avoid processed foods like Pot Noodles
- Whole foods are best
- Get plenty of protein – hemp seeds, grass-fed beef, wild fish
- Get plenty of omega 3 – flaxseed and/or fish oil
- Avoid alcohol especially after a fight or training
- Consume anti-inflammatory foods like ginger, turmeric etc
- Don’t fry with sunflower oil and oils high in omega 6
- Foods to build healthy gut flora – sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt
Foods Not To Eat
Alchohol – causes inflammation and generally bad for your brain. (weed is potentially a better option)
Processed foods – again, cause inflammation. This is where the argument against supplements comes in – despite the research behind supplements such as whey protein, many combat athletes are turning to whole foods diets high in vegetables and avoiding supplements all together. They feel that this gives them a base of general wellbeing and energy which is great for recovery and immune functioning etc which allows them to train harder.
Target Ketogenic Diet for Boxers
For boxer’s looking to shed a little weight and to reduce inflammation, targeted ketosis may be worth looking into.
The brain is also said to function more efficiently when using ketones as fuel, rather then glucose – great for Fight IQ again.
Ketosis is also said to reduce inflammation – great for recovery and general wellbeing.
Ketosis will also help you lose a few pounds instantly, as carbohydrates hold a lot of water (2.7g of water is held in the body for every 1g of carbohydrate), by reducing the carbohydrate / glycogen stored in the body, you will quickly lose some water-weight.
The issue with ketosis is that the first 2 to 3 weeks with very low carbohydrate diets is hard going. You lose energy and focus etc as your body becomes adapted to using fat and ketones as fuel instead of glucose. This can be avoided to a certain extent by supplementing with exogenous ketones.
Another issue with ketosis is that you can lose power and strength to a certain extent as there are no, or very little, glycogen stores to call upon. Fat is a more efficient fuel source but cannot fuel explosive movements.
To offset this issue, consume 50g of fast-acting carbohydrate like maltodextrin around 45 minutes before training. This will temporarily ‘kick you out of ketosis’ for a few hours, but you will be able to train at a higher intensity.
You take the 50g of carbohydrate before each time you train, but you will also lose the benefits of ketosis each time you have the carbohydrate. Most people, therefore limit this protocol to twice a week.
Use the pee-sticks to make sure you are back in ketosis before doing it again.
For information on making weight and diets related to weight cutting – please see my other article