Beat the cold… tips for boxers to avoid illness this winter

35% of you will be knocked out this winter… in this two-part series, Dr Mayur Ranchordas share’s his tips on how to beat your enemy…. the common cold!

Cough

It’s that time of year again when you’re more likely to catch colds and get infections. An upper respiratory tract infection (URTI – mainly known as the common cold) is bad news for boxers. The season doesn’t stop over the winter months, so it’s vital you stay healthy and illness free come spring time.

Many supermarkets promote Vitamin C and Zinc as the preventers of colds. But some of their information might be misleading you. I’ll be writing about some helpful supplements in part 2, but there are a few things you can do that are backed by sound scientific advice, practical and hopefully cheap to increase your chance of having an illness-free winter.

Use antibacterial hand gel and wash your hands properly

HandwashInfectious bacteria can survive on door knobs and other surfaces for longer than you think. Here’s an example. Person 1 sneezes on their hand, wipes their hand on their trousers then opens a public door. There may be some bacteria remaining on their hands which has transferred onto the door knob. Person 2 opens the door then itches their nose. Bacteria has then been passed on to Person 2’s nose.

Similarly, when shaking hands, the boxers fist pump or sharing equipment such as gloves or pads, then rubbing your face has the same effect. So by using an antibacterial hand gel after being in contact with public places can help kill some of the bacteria. The gym could be one of the worst places as illness normally spreads in public places and crowded areas, even when there’s just one sick person around. Washing your hands thoroughly has the same effect but it’s less practical.

Make sure you get enough sleep.

Sleep

“It’s too early” by Chrissy Wainwright http://goo.gl/JReHHo

Alan Ruddock talked about the importance of sleep in a previous article, so I’ll not go into too much detail.

I’ve worked with some athletes who get ill from just 2-3 consecutive days of poor sleep, whereas others cope without major problems. That’s why it’s important to track your sleep over the winter months.

I’d recommend that if you’re in heavy training try to sleep for the length of time that makes you feel fresh when you wake up. That might be 7 hours for some people but 9 hours for others. If you’re serious about performance, then get to know your body. Most of us know when we’re tired from lack of sleep but really take time to listen to your body.

Carbohydrates definitely help

The evidence supporting the use of carbohydrate is convincing. When blood glucose levels fall during exercise your stress hormones rise and make your immune system weak.

By maintaining blood glucose levels during exercise, you can avoid putting your immune system under stress. When exercising for longer than 45-60 min we recommended around 60 g of carbohydrate for every hour of exercise should be consumed.

Either carbohydrate through a sports drink or solid foods such as cereal bars are fine. Similarly, have your recovery drink immediately after training. For most training sessions lasting 60 min or longer a 250 mL serving of low fat milk or a low fat milkshake is a great choice. During the winter, some athletes like the idea of drinking a skinny latté after training which is just as good.

The importance of carbohydrates has massively highlighted how critical it is to be near your fighting weight during the winter months. If you increase body weight too much between fights, you’ll need to cut your carbohydrate intake. This can make your immune system weaker. And if you catch a cold, it’s going to be harder for you train. Don’t play catch up, be ahead of the game.

In summary

  • Use antibacterial hand gel and wash your hands properly
  • Make sure you get enough sleep
  • Eat the right amount of carbohydrates

Immunity Part 2

In the next part, we will be looking into the use of supplements and probiotics to help you have a healthy winter.

Dr Mayur Ranchordas

Mayur Ranchordas works at Sheffield Hallam University as a senior lecturer in Exercise Physiology and Sport Nutrition. From 2006 to 2010 Mayur also worked for the English Institute of Sport providing performance nutrition support to various Olympic and World Champions in various sports ranging from diving, winter sports, athletics, handball, and volleyball. He also has delivered performance nutrition to various professional cycling teams and Premier League Football Clubs. Mayur completed the IOC Diploma in Sport Nutrition in 2011, in 2013 became a Certified Sports Nutritionist from the International Society of Sports Nutrition and is in the final stages of completing a Professional Doctorate. Mayur represented Great Britain in the inaugural ‘Hawaiian IRON MAN Triathlon’, said to be one of the hardest endurance events in the world. Mayur will be providing some great articles for Boxing Science – Sport Nutrition, including making weight, importance of macro nutrients and supplements.

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