Pre Fight Nutrition: Refuel

Are you a boxer that will binge on junk food after a weigh in?

What if we told you, the type of food and how much you eat of it after the weigh-in would affect performance? Would you consider being more strategic with your food choice?

If you’ve restricted your diet for a long time before a weigh-in, eating badly can lead to insulin spikes and leave you feeling sluggish and you may not top up your muscle glycogen levels leading up to the fight, therefore not fueled and ready to perform.

It can also cause stomach upset and diarrhoea, which increases the risk of dehydration and poor sleep.

Lee Rickards gives Boxing Science readers tips on how to Refuel from the scales to the ring walk. 



Immediately After Weigh In

Within an hour after the weigh-in after drinking a suitable volume of fluid I’d recommend you eat a high carbohydrate meal or snack.

Because many boxers travel to the weigh-in, a good snack option, would be low-fat cream cheese/cottage cheese with a bagel and/or a sandwich and banana. Skimmed milk is also a good option for rehydration and refuelling, if your stomach can tolerate it.

24 Hours Before Fight

Three hours after a weigh in, research suggests you can tolerate 60 g of glucose every hour of exercise in long endurance.

Anything above this spike in sugar intake can leave them feeling tired and sluggish, likely to have a negative effect on performance.

For increased physical performance it has been recommended that carbohydrate load of 12 g per kg of body mass to be consumed after a weigh in before a fight.

This is to replace the muscle and liver glycogen lost when ‘making weight’.

The quality of the food is important too, many boxers are known to binge eat after a weigh in on junk food such as takeaway pizzas and chocolate. This can lead to gastric distress and diarrhoea of which could cause dehydration and impaired sleep.

Consuming 80g of starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, pasta, rice, bread and fruit at timely intervals of 2.5-3 hours from 24 hours prior to the fight will ensure that all glycogen stores are refilled.

Here are some ideas of high carbohydrate meals to be eaten at timely intervals throughout the day containing roughly 80g of carbohydrates.

  • Large jacket sweet or white potato with chicken salad and a fruit yoghurt
  • Large bowl of fruit porridge with milk berries and dried fruit

Less Than 3 Hours Before Fight

Nutritional intake three hours before a fight needs to be well structured so you are energised for the fight, but not too full or leaving food undigested, this can cause uncomfort and nausea. Having high GI carbs as light snacks will help top up glycogen stores and are easily digestable.

Be sure to try these foods in training and importantly don’t try anything new leading up the fight

Examples: Rice pudding banana. Jam on toast, weetabix and milk, energy bar such as 2-3 nakd fruit bars.

Can your jittery belly deal with all this food before the fight? Or do you have a weigh-in quite close to the fight?

Maybe having Supplements might be useful? Look out for our article Pre-Fight Nutrition: Supplements in the next few weeks.

It is important to also drink the right fluids for effective Rehyration before the fight.

Lee Rickards is a nutrition consultant and sport scientist currently working at Sheffield United Football Club and with professional combat sport athletes competing for regional, national and commonwealth titles. Lee is an UKSCA accredited strength and conditioning coach (ASCC) and an accredited body composition analyst by The International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry (ISAK).

Lee was awarded his Bachelor of Science in Sport Science for Performance Coaching in 2012 and will be completing Master of Science, Sport and Exercise Science at Sheffield Hallam University in 2015. Lee is currently undergoing his research project, which will investigate strength exercise selection on gluteus maximus activity in order to reduce injury incidence and increase hip extension to aid sports performance.

Lee believes in evidence based nutrition practices to improve performance whilst debunking myths surrounding making weight. Lee will be sharing his nutrition knowledge through a series of articles relating to Boxing performance.

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