REFUELLING correctly and sufficiently after your weigh-in can make a huge difference during your fight and is a massive factor in whether your bout results in a victory or a loss. Depending on your current level of boxing there will be two weigh-in options; on-the-day weigh-in (standard protocol for amateur and sometimes lower-level professional boxing) and day-before weigh-ins (for professional bouts). These different weigh-ins require markedly different refuelling strategies, and we will break down the basics of each weigh-in in this article.
WEIGHING IN ON THE DAY
Weighing in on the day obviously reduces the amount of time a fighter has to refuel and rehydrate. In theory this is a much better approach to weighing in as it discourages dehydration and encourages a fairer playing field instead of fighters stepping into the ring at substantially greater weights than the weight at which they weighed in at.
Before an on-the-day weigh-in you should try to avoid dehydration as it is likely you could be fighting within two hours of weighing in, in which case you will not have rehydrated sufficiently by the time you step in the ring, leading to reduction in concentration, physical performance and potentially increased injury risk. If dehydration is required to make the weight, try not to dehydrate any more than 0.5kg. Also try to avoid cutting carbohydrates out of your diet before your weigh-in. After the weigh-in, due to the short window of opportunity to refuel,there will not be sufficient time to fully replenish muscle glycogen levels, leaving your tank empty when your are fighting.
What to drink
Even though dehydration should be avoided, it would not be recommended to drink within the two hours before the weigh-in so that you are not adding any additional weight to the scales. When you step off the scales you should have a drink ready and waiting to be consumed. A 500ml drink containing electrolytes and carbohydrate would be most suitable. This drink should contain roughly six per cent carbohydrate (30g) . Higher carbohydrate intakes can reduce gastric emptying (the rate at which water is absorbed), meaning you might not be fully hydrated by the time you fight.
What to eat
Avoid eating a full meal between the weigh-in and fighting, as this meal will not be fully digested within the two-hour window, and will also reduce the rate of rehydration. Try to wait 30 minutes after having your drink and opt for quick-release and low-fibre carbohydrates to fuel your fight. These include bananas, raisins, dried fruit, energy gels and bars, jelly beans or a bowl of cereal (e.g. frosties, corn flakes, rice crispies, but avoid high-fibre cereals e.g. bran flakes, shredded wheat). Ideally you should be trying to consume as much carbohydrate as possible, but along with this comes the risk of GI distress (bloating and feeling full) when higher carbohydrate intakes are eaten. It would be worth trying out which foods and how much of each food works for you personally before a less important training session.
WEIGHING IN THE DAY BEFORE
Different sanctioning bodies have the following time restrictions within which weigh-ins should be completed:
- WBC – 24-30 hours before
- WBA – 16-36 hours before
- IBF – 20-30 hours before
- WBO – no time restrictions
Due to having such a long time to refuel and rehydrate following the weigh-in, your strategy should be different to those for on-the-day weigh-ins.
Again, ideally dehydration should be avoided but many fighters dehydrate and then rehydrate to have a weight advantage in the ring.
If dehydration is required it would not be recommended to dehydrate any more than two per cent of your bodyweight.
What to drink
After the weigh-in, have a drink ready to consume, ideally a one-litre bottle, and drink this over the next 30 minutes. After your weigh-in you should consume at least 1.5 times more than the weight you have lost. E.g. if you have dehydrated 1kg you should drink at least 1.5 litres over the next two hours.
It is essential that this fluid contains electrolytes and carbohydrates. As you will be dehydrated, try to include a sodium content of 1000mg per litre of water; sodium will help make sure you absorb the fluid you drink. Most sports drinks contain 400-600mg per litre, so adding a very small pinch of salt to your drink can help increase sodium content to an optimal level.
Due to the longer time to rehydrate when compared to on- the-day weigh-ins you can afford to add more carbohydrate to your drink. Aim for a carbohydrate content of 10 per cent (100g per one litre of drink). This will help replenish carbohydrate content and also provide further help with fluid absorption.
What to eat
Avoid eating for two hours after your weigh-in as any food eaten within this period may reduce rehydration rate.
Over this period you should aim to try and consume 12g of carbohydrate for each kg of bodyweight to maximise muscle glycogen stores to fuel your fight. Consuming a large amount of carbohydrates over this time will also greatly increase the weight at which you step into the ring.
Athletes can hold roughly 400-800g of glycogen depending on size and training experience. Each gram of glycogen is then bound to 3g of water. Let’s say a boxer has the potential to store 600g glycogen and is fully depleted before the weigh-in. Consuming 800g of carbohydrate between the fight and weigh-in would replenish most of this 600g, then for every gramme replenished, 3g of water is also stored, meaning the boxer can add potentially 2.4kg (5.2lbs) of weight, just through eating carbohydrates.
Your first meal should be something easily digestible and high-GI to help replenish carbohydrate intake. Again try to go for bananas, raisins, dried fruit, energy gels and bars, low-fat milkshakes, jelly beans or a bowl of cereal (e.g. frosties, corn flakes, rice crispies, but avoid highfibre cereals e.g. bran flakes, shredded wheat).
The rest of your meals should avoid fatty foods and avoid too much protein. Meals high in these will reduce the amount of carbohydrate you can consume and 12g per kg of bodyweight is a lot of carbohydrate! A small serving of protein with each meal will be perfectly fine, but carbohydrates should make up the biggest proportion of each meal. Ensure a large serving of pasta, rice, noodles, quinoa, oats, couscous, beans or lentils with each meal, every three-four hours and top up carb intake with sports drinks, milkshakes and fruit juices.
Three hours before your fight, eat a large, low-GI meal containing lots of nonrefined carbohydrate with a portion of vegetables. This meal will be your final large meal before your fight and will be used to fuel your fight and is vitally important to eat at this time. Follow this up with a sugary snack 45 minutes before your fight to top up blood sugar levels and further fuel your fight.
Sportskitchen by Soulmatefood provide a post-weigh-in plan, perfect for refuelling and rehydrating after your weigh-in. Have a look on www.soulmatefood.com for more information.