Boxing and eating well
You might be training at a really high intensity, but if you don’t change your diet over the long term, you won’t be dropping pounds or transforming into the Hulk anytime soon. Often slow or stagnating progress in your training schedule has more to do with your refrigerator than with your workout plan. We’ve put together some nutrition tips here to help you avoid the fate of those who quickly give up on boxing in frustration and stash their boxing gloves in the basement. Here’s what you need to consider so that your boxing training can have the maximum effect.
Six pack abs or bikini body?
First off, you basically have to be clear about whether you want to loose weight or develop muscles. While the diet is essentially the same for both these agendas, you have to eat a lot more calories if you want to build muscles. Whereas if you want to loose weight, you need to eat slightly fewer calories. How this translates into actual calorie intake goes as follows: Women on a diet need to consume 1200 to 1500 kcal, while men should get around 1400 to 1700 kcal. You also need to factor in the intensity and frequency of your workouts. If you want to build muscles, add at least 300 to 700 calories more to these amounts. Eat various proteins to get these extra calories, such as low-fat cottage cheese, eggs, chicken, oats, etc. Protein is the key to building muscles.
A little bit of everything
A boxer’s diet should consist of the following recommended amounts of the three nutrients: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Boxing uses a lot of the body’s energy, which has to be supplied through food. For that reason, you should avoid very unbalanced diets, such as low-carb or low-fat.
The body can very quickly metabolize carbohydrates, which are a fast supply of energy. During a fight that goes 12 three-minute rounds, a boxer needs to maintain a very high energy level, which is why carbohydrates are one of the essential foodstuffs for every boxer.
But if you are now looking forward to that extra portion of pasta salad and a flaky croissant, we will have to disappoint. What you need to understand is that not all carbohydrates are the same. These energy suppliers basically consist of sugar and starch and can be divided into three categories: Simple carbohydrates, disaccharides and polysaccharides or complex carbohydrates. You should be avoiding simple sugars as much as possible (sugar, sweets, honey, dextrose) since these contain hardly any vitamins and minerals. In addition, sugar provides the body with energy for a short period of time, but it all lets athletes fall back into a hole just as quickly, because blood sugar levels rise very quickly but then drop just fast.
On the other hand, complex carbohydrates take a long time to digest and provide the body with energy over a longer time frame. The body releases less insulin and the person does not feel food cravings. Potatoes, vegetables and whole-grain products especially contain high quantities of complex carbohydrates. To get more energy during your workout, we recommend eating a banana just before you start.
In addition to carbohydrates, fats are another key source of energy for the body and are usually not just healthy but also indispensable. Certain vitamins such as vitamins A, D and E can only be metabolised by the body with the help of fats. But here too, you have to differentiate between ‘good’ fatty acids (unsaturated) and the ‘bad’ ones (saturated). The classic examples of saturated fatty acids are butter, meats or fried foods and should not be eaten in large quantities because they increase the risk of build-up in your arteries, thereby drastically increasing the risk of heart disease.
Unsaturated fatty acids are considered to be healthy. They lower the cholesterol level, stimulate metabolism and strengthen the cell membranes. Unsaturated fatty acids are subdivided into simple and multiple saturated fatty acids. The simple fatty acids are easily digestible and are contained in rapeseed oil, nuts, avocados and olive oil. The body cannot produce polyunsaturated fatty acids on its own, but they are very important because they are responsible for the formation of essential, hormone-like regulatory substances. The group includes omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, among others. These are particularly important for boxers because they are needed for the production of prostaglandins, a type of hormone that helps the body to properly function.
Nutritionists recommend that 15 percent of a boxer’s daily diet consist of simple fatty acids.
After a fight or a hard training day, boxers often feel pain in the muscles due to small cracks. Proteins help regenerate stressed cells and prevent muscle shrinkage. Chicken, tuna, eggs and lean meat are good sources of protein, as are protein shakes, although these should only be used with a high-intensity workout. Ideally, a boxer working on building specific muscles should drink one shake in the morning after waking up and another during or immediately after the workout.
Water is the key to good health over the long term. Water keeps cells healthy and detoxifies the body. Water also stimulates the metabolism, which boosts the body’s own use of calories. If you practice a tough sport like boxing, you especially have to be careful to drink enough water during your workout and afterward. The sport’s intense level puts you at high risk of dehydration.