Healthy Meals for Boxers

By Jackie Lohrey

The speed, strength and mental clarity you need for success in boxing starts with healthy meals. While the time of year and your weight class should determine your total calorie intake, healthy meal plans ensure that you consume the right amounts of the right foods each day. During the off-season, healthy meals should keep your weight within 3 to 5 percent of fighting weight and during the boxing season meals should allow you to maintain a weight close to or at the top of your weight class without going over.

The Facts

No matter your weight class, the general recommendation is to follow a low fat, moderate to high carbohydrate diet. During the off season you can follow guidelines set by the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine. This means a diet that includes 55 to 58 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates, 12 to 15 from percent protein and 25 to 30 percent from fat. However, when you are actively training and during the boxing season, you need additional protein to maintain strength and muscle mass. Because of this, you need to adjust your daily diet so it includes 45 to 55 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates, 30 to 40 from percent protein and 15 percent from fat.


Your body stores carbohydrates in the form of muscle glycogen, which it then converts to glucose as your body requires additional energy. Sufficient reserves are essential to meet the demands of training and prevent fatigue. Good carbohydrate choices include whole grain bread, cereal and pasta, legumes, dried beans and starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass, repairing muscle and tissue damaged during training or a fight and as a secondary energy source. Good protein foods include soybeans, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, wheat cereal and meals that include brown rice and corn or beans. Fats insulate and protect body organs and promote the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Unsaturated fats in oils such as olive, canola, fish, safflower, sunflower, corn and soybean oil and foods such as seafood, walnuts and avocados are all good choices.

Pre Fight Meals

Nutrition requirements change in the hours leading up to each match. As part of a good fatigue prevention strategy, eat a healthy, carbohydrate based meal two to three hours before each fight and hydrate your body with a 13.5- to 20-oz. glass of water. Low glycemic foods such as whole wheat pasta, a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread and fruit such as apples, pears or berries provide the benefits of carbohydrate energy while at the same time ensuring that blood sugar levels remain constant.

Post Fight Meals

Post fight meal requirements focus on carbohydrates for restoring muscle glycogen reserves and protein for repairing muscle tissue. Starting within 45 minutes of your match, you need to eat two to three meals, two hours apart, consisting of about 1 g of carbohydrates per 2.2 lbs. of body weight to replace muscle glycogen reserves and 1 g of protein for every 4 g of carbohydrates to aid in muscle tissue repair. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs. your post fight meal should consist of about 68 g of carbohydrates and 17 g of protein. While the first meal can be in the form of a liquid, all other recovery meals should be whole food meals.

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