In this article, we’ll help guide you from the scales to the ring, for both amateur and professional fighters.
- Nutritional strategies are important to replenish muscle and liver glycogen in order to fuel performance.
- Athletes should aim to have 1-1.2 g / kg of carbs 2.5-3 hours.
- Nando’s and meals from other restaurant chains can be good for post-weigh-in…. But at the right time with the correct menu choice.
Professional boxers have around 30 hours to refuel post weigh-in… so no need to rush and become bloated!
The refuel post-weigh-in can be the most critical part of a training camp. If you don’t eat the correct foods or the precise amount at the right time – you can undo weeks of hard work.
A poor refuel strategy can negatively affect strength and endurance, as well as cause bloating, make you feel sluggish and increase the likelihood and severity of diarrhoea.
On the other hand, a successful refuel can benefit in you by doing exactly the opposite by improving:
- Aerobic and anaerobic Capacity
- Muscular strength and speed
- Reaction time
- Control of body mass
What should I eat before a fight?
Many boxers binge on junk food after a weigh-in, but athletes are becoming more professional and using good quality food to fuel their bodies for peak performance.
However, we still receive many questions regarding pre-fight nutrition, what to eat, how much and when. This can be a very confusing time in a critical period, we’re lucky that we work with some fantastic nutritionists that can help our boxers refuel in the right way.
But unfortunately, not every boxer has the luxury of a nutritionist to be there after a weigh-in, so we still see boxers heading into their nearest Nando’s or favourite eateries at the first chance. This is ok when the right choices are made and portion sizes are controlled – however too many get carb heavy!
It’s just not about cramming in the carbs. 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. Plus you might not restore muscle glycogen leading up to the fight, leaving you underfueled and risking underperformance.
Poor choices at this point can also cause stomach upset and diarrhoea, which increases the risk of dehydration and poor sleep quality.
In this article, we’ll share post-weigh-in tips from scientific research and our experience with our athletes, as well as offering guidance for you to implement pre-fight nutritional strategies for your next bout.
NOTE: This is a guide for educational purposes. Refuel strategies should be individualised, specific and carried out with the guidance of a qualified nutritionist. You must consult a qualified nutritionist or doctor before undertaking any of these strategies.
Fight Day Nutrition for Amateur Boxers
In the amateurs – most weigh-ins are on the day and quite close to the bout.
This is good from a ‘making weight’ perspective as boxers are put off from big weight cuts or acute dehydration methods. However, this increases the need for strategic methods during the refuelling process to ensure athletes consume the correct foods with precise timing to optimise performance.
We’ve seen many amateurs in the past try to eat too much too soon ending in bloating and lethargy during their bout.
The infographic above outlines a strategy for amateur boxers. This strategy can alter depending on the type of competition – as single bouts on club shows can restrict the refuelling time. However, during championships, there is often a longer time period between weighing in and boxing.
Our main advice would be to have a few different plans lined up depending on what time you weigh-in and what time you box. Then plan to have light food, high in carbs and easily digestible. Make sure to spread it out, and don’t eat too close to your bout.
What Should I Eat During Amateur Boxing Championships?
During championships, boxers are in a difficult situation because they need to refuel, recover for the next bout (if they win) and make weight the next day. This means that a boxer needs to be strategic with how they refuel because they don’t want to put on any weight for the next day. The last thing they want to do is to skip off a few kilo’s the next day!
A good method to replace lost fluids from sweat and recover quickly from a bout would be to drink a sports drink and combine it with rapidly digestible protein to help recovery.
Below is a simple nutrition plan for a 3-day amateur championship competition.
Professional Boxing Post-Weigh-In Nutrition
There are more elements to control or adapt to for an effective weight cut and refuel for professional boxers. Some considerations include:
- How much weight has been taken off acutely (low-residue, acute dehydration)
- Weigh-in on fight day or day before
- What location/access to appropriate nutrition.
Therefore, it’s difficult to provide accurate nutritional strategies for professionals as each athlete will need to follow an individualized plan, set by a qualified nutritionist.
Also… we can’t give too much away to our weigh-in strategies, as we have to be respectful to the fighters we work with who are looking to gain the extra 1-5%’s over their opponent.
However, we can give you guidance regarding the foods you should and shouldn’t eat, as well as helping you with your planning and timing. Here are our top tips for refuelling.
Be Patient and Prioritise Rehydration
Many athletes make the fundamental mistake of trying to get as much food in their system as soon as possible in the attempt to maximize the refuelling period, however, this could put them at a massive disadvantage.
If you have used water loading or acute dehydration strategies, you must look to rehydrate before consuming any solid food. Taking on carbs in a dehydrated state can cause nausea and bloating – this can affect the refuelling process.
Remember, when you have a day before weigh-in you have over 24 hours to refuel. In fact, if you’re boxing at 8 pm next evening you have over 30 hours! Be patient, rehydrate first and then time your carbs effectively.
Train Like a Champion
Follow the training methods we deliver to professional athletes
Have carbohydrates every 2.5 to 4 hours.
Eating 1-1.2g per kg (60-80 g) 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 your glycogen stores are refuelled.
Anything above this can spike blood glucose and shortly after leave boxers feeling tired and sluggish which from a psychological point of view is unhelpful and likely to have a negative effect on performance.
Boxers should aim for 10 -12 g of carbs per kg of body mass between weigh-in and fight night
Remember there’s plenty of time refuel on ‘day before’ weigh in’s and it should be possible to strategically distribute carbohydrate across this time frame to ensure between 10 and 12 g/kg of carbs are consumed to replace the muscle and liver glycogen lost when ‘making weight’.
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
Avoid Binging and Junk food
There is an old myth that boxers should eat junk food after a weigh-in because ‘their body is craving sugar’
Eating junk food high in carbs, fat and calories can lead to gastric distress and diarrhoea of which could cause dehydration and impaired sleep. Clearly things we’d like to avoid.
Also, you want to avoid foods high in fat as we want to optimise our carbohydrate intake. Remember, during the refuel you want to eat 60-80g carbs per meals, and meals high in fat will affect the amount of carbs we intake.
Furthermore, junk food can affect our appetite and you need to make sure you have regular meals and snacks to achieve optimal glycogen replenishment.
Fuel your body with quality foods, small-medium portions often according to a time schedule.
Research The Area If You’re Looking to Eat Out And Choose Wisely!
Fights happen all over the world and maybe in a city you aren’t familiar with. It’s important that you stick to the time schedule during your refuelling process, the last thing you want to do is waste time aimlessly wandering the streets looking for somewhere to eat.
Should I have a Nando’s Pre-fight?
Ideally, you’d prepare your own food, but we recognize that this isn’t always possible or the preferred option. If you decide to eat out just make sure to research the area, make a choice and a reservation
A lot of boxers love a Nando’s and surprisingly it can be a good option as long as your meal choice fits the desired macronutrient intake for your refuelling strategy.
Remember that the aim of the post-weigh-in strategy is to replenish muscle glycogen lost from the week before the weigh-in. You should aim for 1-1.2g of carbohydrate per kg of your body mass in this meal.
There are other restaurant chains that are always nearby to fight venues, so we have given you a few options of places to eat.
You will notice we have combined our recommendations this with 500ml of water or juice to aid rehydration as well as glycogen replenishment. We haven’t selected soft-drinks as these are too sugary and will affect the intake of your carbohydrates, and could cause bloating effecting your appetite and refuelling process. The same rule applies to chips, white pasta etc.
Also, we have avoided fatty meats and sauces as this increases the calorie intake and affect our ‘room’ to take in carbs, this will leave us under fuelled for performance.
Here is a list of bad food choices to make when at these restaurants pre-fight.
- Chicken wings piri piri chips, caeser salad, glass of coca cola
- ½ chicken, coleslaw and garlic bread
- Chicken thighs with chips and creamy mash and halloumi
- Lasagne and garlic bread
- Classic pepperoni Campagna pizza and fried herby potatoes
- Spaghetti chorizo carbonara and calamari
- Chicken katsu curry and fried duck gyoza
- Shirodashi ramen and fried prawn gyoza
- Teryaki lamb and duck lettuce wraps
Have easily digestible carb snacks, carb gels and use supplements pre-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 discomfort and nausea.
With this in mind, having high GI carbs as light snacks will help top up glycogen stores and are easily digestible. Also, having carbohydrate gels and supplements can help intake a high amount of carbs without being ‘heavy’ on your stomach.
Here are some examples of high-carb snacks and gels perfect in the closing stages before a fight.
Examples: Rice Pudding, Banana. Jam on toast, Weetabix and milk, energy bar such as 2-3 naked fruit bars
Carb gels are also good, especially with electrolytes. Make sure that these are batch tested by Informed Sport.
Whatever you choose, be sure to try these foods in training and importantly don’t try anything new leading up the fight
Have a written plan and timed schedule
Hopefully, this article has demonstrated the need for nutritional strategies and precision during the refuelling process, from the scales to the ring!
It’s important that you are clear on your strategy execute it to leave nothing to chance.