February 6, 2014
February 6, 2014

Andy Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions

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JUST started boxing and looking to start a new eating regime to become as lean and mean as your favourite pro? This article will help you understand the basics of nutrition for boxers. A food intake is basically made up of macronutrients and micronutrients and once these are optimal, supplements can be added on top of this where required.

MACRONUTRIENTS WHAT ARE THEY?

Macronutrients are basically the ‘building blocks’ of our meals. These are classified under four brackets:

PROTEINS

  • The blocks of our muscles, essential for protein synthesis and maintaining lean muscle.
  • Contain four calories per gramme.
  • Made up of essential and non-essential amino acids.
  • Sources include: meats (chicken, turkey, beef, pork, lamb), eggs, fish, nuts, dairy products and soy products (limit use of these).

CARBOHYDRATES

  • Used to fuel training and aid recovery.
  • Contain four calories per gramme.
  • When cutting weight, use carefully and focus intake around training, reducing when away from training.
  • Sources include rice, pasta, bread, sweet potatoes, potatoes, beans, chickpeas, quinoa, couscous, and fruits.
  • Vegetables also contain carbohydrates but in a lower concentration than the above – useful for cutting weight.

FATS

  • Contain nine calories per gramme.
  • Not all fats are bad – trans fats are – but fat has a stigma attached to it that suggests we shouldn’t eat it.
  • Fat is a vital part of our diet, without it many bodily functions would not happen. Even ‘big, bad’ saturated fat is
  • required in the diet, so do not avoid this, but on the other hand, don’t go too crazy either.
  • Try to have most of your fat intake from poly-unsaturated sources e.g. olives, nuts and seeds, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, meats, dairy.
  • Avoid man-made fats, low-fat meals and low-fat spreads. These usually contain high levels of trans fats – the bad fats..

ALCOHOL

  • Contain seven calories per gramme.
  • A pint a week or a couple of pints every two weeks isn’t going to kill anybody but as athletes you should be aware of your intake and limit this as much as possible.
  • Excessive alcohol intake can impact on recovery, muscle adaptation, appetite, blood sugar regulation and training
  • intensity the following day, so think about when to have your deserved drink so that it’s not going impact on any of the above.

MICRONUTRIENTS WHAT ARE THEY?

We then have micronutrients, which are essential for a large number of bodily functions. Think of micronutrients as the cement between your macronutrient buildings blocks, a wall can be built of the biggest bricks but easily fall down without the cement holding the bricks together, same goes for the human body. You can be “ripped” and “built” yet inside be a mess because you have neglected vitamins and minerals e.g. poor immunity, impaired recovery, tiredness, loss of concentration. Micronutrients include but are not limited to:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • All vitamins

Eating a varied diet including meats, dairy, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and varied carb sources should cover your recommended intake of vitamins and minerals. If you are not consuming a varied diet, consult a nutritionist to see where you may be deficient.

WHAT SHOULD I EAT EACH DAY?

A good way of assessing how many macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein and fats – you need per day is to base this on your body weight. Basing these intakes on your body weight will make your intake more specific to you, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach. If you use the following daily intakes as a baseline and then adapt this as and when required.

BUILDING MUSCLE
(I.E. MOVING UP A WEIGHT CATEGORY)

Weight 50kgs 60kgs 70kgs 80kgs
Protein (2g/kg) 100 120 140 160
Carbs (5-6g/kg) 250-300 300-360 350-420 400-480
Fat (1-1.2 g/kg) 50-60 60-72 70-84 80-96
  • Aim for six servings of protein per day with 20-30g protein per serving.
  • Have a serving of protein before sleep to reduce muscle breakdown overnight.
  • Eat mostly low-Gi, slow-release carbohydrates to aid growth e.g. quinoa, beans, wholemeal pasta, brown/wild rice.
  • Low-Gi carbohydrates will also help lessen the amount of body fat you will gain while gaining lean muscle.
  • Focus high-Gi carbohydrates one hour before and immediately after training to fuel training and aid recovery.
  • Use healthy fats and add fats to dishes to increase the calorie intake.
  • Aim for each meal to contain at least a fist-sized serving of protein, a fist of carbohydrates, a source of fat and two
  • Fists of vegetables.

CUTTING WEIGHT
(I.E. REDUCING WEIGHT FOR A FIGHT)

Weight 50kgs 60kgs 70kgs 80kgs
Protein (2.5-3g/kg) 125-150 150-180 175-210 200-240
Carbs (2-3g/kg) 100-150 120-180 140-210 160-240
Fat (0.8 g/kg) 40 48 56 64
  • Aim for six servings of protein per day with 25-35g protein per serving.
  • Have a serving of protein before sleep to reduce muscle breakdown overnight.
  • Only eat carbs in the window around training (three hours before and one hour after) to fuel training,
  • aid training intensity, reduce injury risk and aid immunity. Reducing carbohydrate intake away from training will help increase fat metabolism.
  • Away from training, try to focus most meals around a protein source (ideally meat), a heap of vegetables (to fill up on) and a fat source.

SUPPLEMENTS

When starting out it is best to nail down the basic parts of your diet before shovelling a heap of complex and often useless supplements down your throat.

Supplements can have a place in an athlete’s diet but if the basic diet is all over the place then there is very little point in taking these supplements and wasting your money.

If you decide to take supplements then stick to a core of well-researched and safe supplements. Here are a few staple supplements that would suit a boxer’s training regime, once your diet is correct:

  • Creatine mono-hydrate.
  • Fish Oils (high EPA content).
  • Vitamin D.
  • A high-quality multi-vitamin.
  • Protein powders (e.g. whey, soy or a vegan alternative), these should not be used as a replacement for a meal but as a quick and effective recovery aid after training.

For more information, see the supplement review in the Boxing News training manual Total Fight Training.

Don’t forget to make sure these supplements are “sport safe” and have been batch-tested to reduce the risk of testing positive on doping test. The website www.informed-sport.com provides a good database of tested products suitable for athletes to use. If you have any doubts speak with a sports nutritionist, although the doping agency WADA make it clear that you are responsible for anything you put in your mouth.

  • Tom Whitehead is a nutritionist for Soulmatefood. To find out more about what Soulmatefood’s Sportskitchen can do for you go to www.soulmatefood.com.

*For training information and workouts from some of the biggest names in combat sport don’t miss the Fighting Fit: Train like the Stars special*