Boxing – a tough, individual sport where two people have to use all their power, quick reflexes and mental toughness to fight each other. One of the unique aspects of this sport is that it contains two different sets of rules for professional and amateur boxing, respectively1. These rules affect scoring, duration of fights, and more.
Boxing is also a sport where opponents are matched by weight, which comes with a set of nutritional considerations for those that partake. Alongside that, boxers have a rigorous training, as they have to work on skills, body conditioning, and get competition-ready2.
The sport consists of high-intensity aerobic and anaerobic activity3. This means that they need to have a proper nutritional plan that helps to meet the energy demands of this sport. Let’s dive into it!
Energy and Muscle: The Power of Nutrition
Boxers spend a lot of energy during training; therefore, they need to get adequate amounts of all macronutrients. Overall, boxers can require about 40-70 calories per kilo of weight daily, with professionals needing even more4.
Carbohydrates are a great source of energy. You should vary the amount of carbs you eat based on how much training you do. The muscles use glycogen, which is made from carbohydrates, during training, so you need to replenish it5. On lower intensity days, strive for 4-5 g/kg, while on higher ones, aim for 8-10 g/kg6. Carbs are very important before training, as they help with endurance7.
For those that do a lot of training, choosing carbohydrates that are simpler can speed up glycogen resynthesis8. If you’re training for a long time, add carbs to your drinks, getting 30-60 g of carbs per hour9.
Protein is another important macronutrient, as it is required to build muscles. Aim to get 1.2-2 g/kg of protein, but don’t be afraid to get more if you need. Aim for complete sources of protein, which contain all amino acids. Getting 20-40 g of protein after a workout will help kickstart muscle building10.
Omega-3s are a great way to support your body in recovering after a workout, but they are also vital fats your body needs for health13. Whether you’re training or getting ready for the competition, consider supplementing with Maxler Omega-3 Gold to ensure your body gets these essential fats.
Finally, don’t forget water, as losing even 2% of your hydration can decrease performance. Aim to get 0.5-2 L of water every hour during exercise and after it14.
Before the competition
A lot of boxers are looking to lose weight before a competition, trying to get a competitive advantage over others. Boxing competitions tend to match opponents by stature and weight15.
This means that boxers need to come up with a weight loss strategy that is effective and works for them. Aggressive methods of loss may be tempting, but they carry with them psychological effects like tiredness and feelings of isolation, as well as physiological ones, like decreased muscle glycogen and higher heart rate16. These can be mitigated with proper planning17,18.
As a guideline, aim to get at least enough energy to cover your resting metabolic rate. A general macronutrient breakdown can be as follows, 3 g/kg of carbs, 2 g/kg of protein, and 1 g/kg of fat19.
Here are a few tips for when you’re losing weight before your competition:
- Aim for a gradual weight loss, working on lowering fat content over water and muscle mass.
- Don’t go under 5% body fat if you’re male and 12% if you’re female.
- It’s extremely important for female athletes to ensure they’re getting enough energy during this process, to avoid relative energy deficiency (RED)20.
- Remember to strength train.
- Use supplements to your advantage – BCAAs help preserve muscle mass, while creatine and electrolytes can help restore the body after the weigh-in.
- Aim to get plenty of carbohydrates even when you’re losing weight21.
Once you’ve weighed in, you should aim to rehydrate and replenish your glycogen stores through consuming plenty of water with electrolytes and carbohydrate foods. For water, aim to get around 600-900 ml in one go after the weigh in, and continue topping up regularly22.
For glycogen replenishment, you might be running on a short time scale. To best boost your glycogen synthesis, aim for about 1.2 g/kg of carbs from different sources (glucose + fructose)23. Add a bit of protein, 0.3-0.4 g/kg, to support this process further24. Limit fiber intake to avoid stomach discomfort25.
The world of supplements
Boxers can look to certain supplements to help them reach their goals faster. This can be a range of supplements, from those helping to increase muscle size to those helping to get rid of tiredness. Here are some great supplements that boxers can consider including in their routine.
- Caffeine. It is a great supplement to combat fatigue, helping you do more reps during training. It can also improve performance when you’re doing anaerobic work, which is important for boxers and other combat sports. This is due to the high intensity of the actions during boxing26.
- Electrolytes. Staying hydrated is important, especially when you’re trying to rehydrate after a weigh-in. Electrolyte drinks help make water isotonic, which helps the body to absorb it easily.
- BCAA. This group of amino acids helps support muscles while you’re losing weight, so can come handy before competition27. Maxler BCAA Powder is a great addition to a boxer’s regimen.
- Vitamin D. Many athletes can support their bone health through supplementing vitamin D28. Maxler Vitamin D3 600 IU is a convenient softgel capsule containing lots of bioavailable vitamin D.
- Minerals. Some athletes may have insufficient mineral intakes. Minerals are necessary for the cellular chemistry in our body29.