Carbohydrates are needed for energy during training and competition. But boxers have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with them. Some boxers totally cut them out and some embrace them like Tim Bradley on his vegan diet.
Main roles of carbohydrates
The main role of carbohydrates is to serve as fuel, particularly during high-intensity exercise.
Carbohydrates are absorbed in the small intestine and either become available as an energy source for metabolism, form glycogen (stored carbohydrate) in the liver and muscle or convert to fatty acids if all liver and muscle glycogen stores are full.
So in a nut shell, you either use the carbs wisely or store it as fat.
So how do we use carbohydrates appropriately?
Plan your carb intake
Planning your carbohydrate intake relative to your training load will help you perform to your best in the gym, and limit the potential for fat storage.
When should I eat more carbs?
Generally, boxers should consume higher amounts of carbohydrates on high-intensity and high-volume training days (although there are several instances when this might not be preferable, such as when losing weight or training carbohydrate restricted). You might train twice a day, so consuming carbohydrates following the first session is vital for glycogen replenishment so that you’re ready for the second session later in the day.
When should I eat less carbs?
Short and low intensity training sessions (e.g. light jog, recovery sessions or light skipping) might not use much of your carbohydrate stores, so if you eat the same amount of carbs as on a high training load day you risk storing fat. With this in mind, cut your carbohydrate intake when you’re not training as hard.
If you limit carbs before and after exercise there is some evidence to suggest that fatty acids will be used as an energy source which might be a key component in training adaptation.
Carbohydrate intake also needs to be lower on rest days because of a lower energy expenditure compared to training days.
Lee Rickards is the nutritional consultant for www.boxingscience.co.uk. Sign up to their mailing list to receive the free ‘Punch Harder’ E-Book.