When you are looking for a new workout routine, it is natural that you might look to some of the toughest athletes in the world. Of course, we are talking about boxers; people who definitely take (and give) a lot more abuse than the majority of athletes. Because of all the strain that is placed on their bodies, boxers need to adopt a diet that is purely performance-oriented. In this article, we will explore that concept and try to determine what should be the structure and specifics of a boxer’s diet.
There are three macronutrients: Protein, carbohydrates, and fat. These might also be described as categories of nutrients since all three of those macronutrients include many different forms. Most nutrients are separated into these categories because they follow certain patterns in terms of how the human body reacts to them. Thus, it is important to balance them properly.
Protein is essential for the repair and building of muscles. A boxer usually tries to get as much lean muscle mass as possible, but we will get into that subject below. For now, you just need to know that protein is muscle fuel (among other things). Without adequate levels of protein, you will not build muscle as you should, and your recovery times will be longer.
Carbohydrates are quick energy. When the body stores food energy, it is turned into one of two things: Glycogen or fat. Glycogen is kind of like shallow storage, while fat is more like deep storage. Think of it like this: Glycogen is kind of like something that is carried in your pocket. It’s right there and ready to use when needed. Fat is more like something that you store in the garage. It’s there, but not as easy to access.
Boxing is an extremely strenuous activity, and that’s why you need plenty of carbs. Those people who advocate low-carb diets are not the people to listen to when you need maximum performance, period. Those people are concerned only with weight loss and are generally not competitive athletes. Here’s the important part: Carbs that are not used quickly will turn to fat, but they will not turn to fat if you are active shortly after digesting them.
As for fat, don’t take it out of your diet entirely. A boxer should stick with a low-fat diet, but you need to stop and think about all the fats that occur in nature. All meat, all eggs, some plants, and all seeds and nuts contain significant amounts of fat. All of these foods are healthy, so don’t discount the value of fat. It can act as a digestive aid which helps your body to process other nutrients.
Your Goal Is Lean Muscle Mass
In general, a boxer needs a lot of lean muscle mass. Being large is helpful, especially if you’re in the heavyweight division, but it also slows you down. A smaller and lighter individual will have an easier time dodging shots and using agile footwork to outdistance their opponent. It’s a lot harder to do that when you’re built like a truck.
Of course, larger fighters have an advantage when it comes to strength and punching power. There’s no denying that fact, but that is why boxing is separated into weight classes. It just wouldn’t be fair to put the smallest guys up against the biggest guys, and it would make for a poor show anyway. Therefore, a boxer doesn’t have to concentrate on brute strength as much as they need to concentrate on agility. That’s why you don’t necessarily want to be the biggest guy in the building.
You will need to eat a lot of protein, but it should be fairly lean protein. There is a delicate balance that needs to be struck on this point, as you need a certain amount of fat in your diet. As we mentioned earlier, the body cannot process a lot of protein without a little bit of fat to help it along. Here’s what we recommend: Try to get most of your protein from whole meat while maintaining a low-fat diet overall. If meat is the only fatty thing in your diet, you will get enough fat to process the protein without adding pounds to your waist.
The Importance of A High-Protein Breakfast
A high-protein breakfast is a great way to keep yourself feeling “full” throughout the day. In scientific terms, that feeling of “fullness” is called satiety. Many studies have examined the effect of protein on overall feelings of satiety, including this study.
Those who conducted the study were already aware that protein intake had an influence on feelings of satiety. Their purpose was to determine the exact mechanism of this relationship. In other words: They knew what happens, but they wanted to know why it happens. Unfortunately, they were not able to make a definitive conclusion, but they did come up with a good working theory: That proteins can activate or deactivate hunger hormones like ghrelin, and that the brain’s interaction with these hormones was responsible for the relationship between protein and satiety.
When you don’t have feelings of hunger throughout the day, it helps to keep you from snacking much. You see, the feeling of hunger is caused by a specific hormone called ghrelin. When your ghrelin levels are high, you will feel very hungry, and vice versa. So, how do you suppress this particular hormone and keep yourself from overeating?
The answer is a high-protein breakfast. Science has repeatedly proven that a high-protein breakfast will act to suppress the production of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) within your body. Take this study, for instance. By repeatedly measuring ghrelin levels in a variety of test subjects, researchers determined that a high-protein breakfast did a much better job of suppressing hunger hormones than a high-carb breakfast. Half of the test group was given a high-protein while the other was given a high-carb breakfast. Afterward, their ghrelin was measured, and it was found that the high-protein group had much less ghrelin in their system.
The Importance Of Brain Health
There is one particular type of fats that are especially important to boxers, and they are called omega fatty acids. These substances are very important to the health of the brain and have been conclusively shown to have a positive effect on memory and cognitive performance. It might be hard to believe that fat can make you smarter, but in this case, it seems to be true.
But how much difference can omega fatty acids really make? According to this study, the difference is pretty large indeed. In this instance, researchers studied children whose mothers had consumed a lot of fish oil (rich in omega fatty acids) during pregnancy and nursing. It was found that the fish-oil kids scored a lot higher on cognitive tests and other tests of mental acuity, thus concluding that omega fatty acids can have a positive effect on brain health and mental function.
Omega fatty acids have other functions and benefits, but we are going to focus on their mental benefits for today. Why? Because brain health is a lot more important for a person who is regularly punched in the head! When you take a punch, it doesn’t just cause pain and dizziness. It causes a minor and temporary form of brain damage that impairs your ability to think clearly. Obviously, a good punch can knock someone out completely, and in some cases, people can even die from a single punch.
The long-term effects of punches to the head are considered to be the biggest long-term health risk for a boxer. For an example of this condition, consider Muhammed Ali. Born Cassius Clay, he is considered to have been one of the greatest fighters of all time. Unfortunately, he developed post-career brain injuries that have kept him out of the public eye ever since.
As you surely know, the sport of boxing is divided into weight classes, and fighters are always weighed before a fight. If they are found to be outside the weight limits for their class, the fight cannot proceed. Thus, boxers have to maintain tight control of their weight.
For most athletes, exact control of their weight is not as important. They can put on a few pounds or lose a few pounds, and they will still be allowed to play. Thus, you should focus on a diet that is consistent. Like your workout routine, your diet needs to follow specific patterns that rarely (if ever) change. Consistent effort produces consistent results.
An Example Diet
Based on the principles outlined above, we will not attempt to construct a sample diet plan for a boxer, or for someone who wants to emulate the methods of a boxer. Bear in mind that this is only an example and that your workout will likely be a little different. However, this will give you a better idea of what such a diet will look like in practice.
- Two eggs, cooked lightly (preferably fresh farm eggs)
- A small handful of sunflower seeds
- A fruit that contains vitamin C (tomatoes, grapefruits, oranges, etc.)
- Two pieces of wheat toast with jelly (not butter)
- A large glass of milk
- Two handfuls of mixed nuts and seeds (any kind)
- A turkey sandwich made with:
- 1-2 slices of lean turkey breast lunchmeat
- Lettuce, tomato, and/or other vegetable toppings
- One slice of cheese (any kind)
- A full serving of cooked fish (not breaded)
- A baked potato (no salt, very little butter)
- A serving of mixed cooked vegetables
Explanation Of The Example Diet
Breakfast is the largest meal of the day, and there are reasons for this fact. In metabolic terms, this is the spark that gets the fire started. The eggs are the main source of protein here, but there is also some protein to be found in the sunflower seeds. The seeds are also a great source of omega fatty acids, which is the primary reason for their inclusion. There is also a decent amount of protein and other nutrients to be found in milk.
Most of your breakfast carbs will come from the toast, although the seeds contain a little bit as well. As for fat, you will get a little bit from the eggs and a little bit from the milk, but that’s all. The vitamin C has been included for immune health, recovery, disease prevention, and many other reasons.
Lunch is probably the least important meal of the day, as you do not need it to survive. That being said, it can do a lot to keep your energy levels running high for a busy day of training. Our recommended lunch basically consists of some nuts and a sandwich, because this will give you all the nutrients you need in a small and simple package that is quick and easy to prepare. No one wants to take the time to cook a chicken on their lunch break.
For dinner, we recommend something that is simple and traditional yet healthy at the same time. Most people like a meat entree with dinner, so we recommend fish. Not only is it very lean, but it’s also the best source of omega fatty acids. Redfish like salmon and mackerel are your best bet, as they contain the highest levels of omega fatty acids.
We included a potato because it contains a lot of carbs for energy, but isn’t particularly high in fat as long as you don’t slather the thing in butter. Don’t drown it in salt, either, as salt has some problems as well. Just add a little bit of low-fat butter and maybe a sprinkle or two of salt, and that’s all you need. As for the mixed vegetables, this is mainly included to make sure that you get all your essential vitamins and minerals.
As you can see, a boxer’s diet is focused on energy and lean muscle mass. These conclusions should not surprise anyone, as boxing requires a mix of endurance and power. It is perfectly natural that the boxer’s diet will reflect this fact. We hope that you have found this article to be helpful and that it will help you achieve a more optimal level of health. Whether you are a boxer looking for some tips or a boxing fan looking to increase your fitness, we hope that you have found what you needed. If so, please show your appreciation by following us on Facebook.