The last thing you want to feel as you jab, uppercut and hook is the growling of your stomach. Just like other athletes, boxers must eat for performance, power and endurance — and that means carefully planning a balanced diet that takes each of the three macronutrients, and how they affect the sport, into consideration.
Don't Cut Carbs!
Boxing requires a significant amount of energy — after all, a match consists of 12 rounds of 3 minutes each. Even if you're not actually fighting in a match, just the toll of training can wear you out. Carbohydrates help you keep your energy levels high by keeping your muscles' glycogen levels high. Therefore, aim to make your diet consist of 45 to 55 percent carbs.
Not all carbs are created equal, though. Sugary carbs from candy, soda or sweets are a definite no-no, while processed carbohydrates from white bread, white pasta and white rice are only slightly better. What a boxer really should eat is a good amount of complex carbohydrates from natural foods, such as whole-grain bread, oatmeal, sweet potatoes and beans.
Pack in Protein
It's no secret that boxing requires a lot of muscle power. When they fight or train, the muscles experience microscopic tears. As they heal, the muscles will grow stronger — but, in order to do so, they need protein. Try to get 30 to 40 percent of your daily calories from protein.
Read More: Do I Have to Eat Protein After a Workout?
While fats have their place in a boxer's diet, you don't necessarily want it to be packaged with your protein. Instead, eat lean protein sources such as chicken, tuna, eggs and lean beef. If you consume plenty of legumes, you'll be getting protein and carbs at once.
A boxer likely needs more protein than the average person, particularly after a grueling workout. Make a protein shake immediately after you're done fighting or training for a little extra boost.
Don't Forget Fats
It's important for boxers to maintain their weight, so eating excessive amounts of fat — or the wrong types of fat — isn't recommended. To keep in peak athletic shape, though, some fat is required. The remainder of your daily calories, 15 percent, should consist of healthy fats.
What makes up the healthy fat category? A lot of seafood, for one, such as salmon and tuna. Nuts, too, are sources of healthy fat, as are olive oil and avocado.
Possible Meal Combinations
Put it all together to figure out some healthy meal options that will benefit your training:
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with a hardboiled egg; scrambled eggs on whole-grain toast
- Lunch: Baked salmon with an avocado and tomato salad over quinoa; lean beef burger on a whole-grain bun with roasted sweet potatoes
- Dinner: Bean burrito on a whole-wheat tortilla with roasted broccoli drizzled with olive oil; whole-grain pasta topped with chicken and sauteed vegetables with a vinaigrette dressing
When it comes to what a boxer should drink, there's only one answer: water. Everything else, from soda to juice to alcohol, should be limited, if consumed at all. Drink to your thirst, upping the amount on heavy training or fight days, aiming to create a nearly colorless and odorless urine. If your urine is yellow or dark, it's time to chug from your water bottle.
Read More: 10 Most Healthy Foods to Eat