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Boxing Science Nutritionist Lee Rickards outlines the benefits and general guidelines for protein in a Boxer’s diet.

In Brief…

  • Increasing protein intake will help you recover from training, keep you feeling full and help maintain muscle mass
  • Boxers should consume 1.5 – 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day
  • Bio-Availability describes how readily absorbed a protein source is, foods such as egg whites have a higher bio availability compared to soy proteins.

Boxers, athletes and keep fitters will have been told that protein is an important part of the diet…. but why?

What is Protein?

Protein is an essential nutrient which plays an important role in recovery from exercise – it helps muscles repair and grow.

When boxers make weight, they are often in a negative energy balance. When cutting foods out of a diet, carbohydrates are often restricted, increasing the likelihood of gluceneogenesis.

Gluconeogenesis – the synthesis of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources, like amino acids (protein) and glycerol (fats).

What Does This Mean for My Performance?

If you’re restricting carbohydrates your body will try to create glucose by other means. Typically, you’ll break down proteins and fats.  If you don’t eat enough protein it can lead to a loss of lean muscle and performance impairment.

This means boxers and combat athletes need to eat more protein compared to population guidelines.

If you increase protein intake, it will help you recover from training, keep you feeling full and help maintain muscle mass.

Types of Protein

Protein is formed by multiple amino acids. There are two kinds of amino acids; essential and non-essential.

The body cannot synthesize eight amino acids and are deemed essential.

These essential amino acids are mainly from animal sources.

Non essential amino acids come from plant sources. These are poorly absorbed unless two plant sources are combined.

A protein bioavability chart shows that animal sources of protein (casein and above) are better absorbed and used compared to plant sources. These are the sources of which we will get the majority of our protein from.

Bio-Availability describes how readily absorbed a protein source is.

What Does This Mean for My Performance?

You’re probably limited by how much you can eat, so you’ll need to select foods with the biggest impact. By carefully choosing protein sources above 75 on the bioavailability index you’ll be giving your body the best chance to repair and grow your muscle.

Planning

Throughout a training camp a boxer will typically require a large amount of protein, usually between 1.5 to 1.8 g per kg of body mass per day.

However, at certain periods this may rise to 2.2 kg when in a period of heavy weight training or during periods when you’ll incur a large negative energy balance (2 weeks before weigh in).

How Much?

There’s an upper limit of 20 to 30 g of protein per meal. Any less will not fully synthesise protein and any amount higher provides little benefit.

Eating 20-30 g of protein every 3 to 4 hours will help maintain muscle protein synthesis.

The image below shows different examples on what 20 g of protein looks like. (Adapted from Close with the England RFU)

What About Protein Shakes?

Throughout a training camp a boxer will typically require a large amount of protein 2g per kg of body mass per day to increase recovery from training as well as to build and protect muscle from breakdown when making weight.

Many boxers will be able to eat the amount of protein they need without the need for protein supplementation. However, in some circumstances you might need a protein shake. If this is the case it’s paramount that the product is batch tested by a company like informed sport in the UK. These companies

Summary

  • Increasing protetin intake will help you recover from training, keep you feeling full and help maintain muscle mass
  • Boxers should consume 1.5 – 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day
  • Bio-Availability describes how readily absorbed a protein source is, foods such as egg whites have a higher bio availability compared to soy proteins.

Want to learn more about nutrition for Boxing?

Check out our Boxing Science Nutrition Handbook.

This 25-page handbook offers guidance on the types of food boxers should eat and when to make the weight safely and effectively. We also provide hydration, fuelling and recovery strategies so you achieve the optimal results session by session.

What’s In The Handbook?

Detailed and informative nutrition guide to help you fuel your training for optimal performance.

All you need to know for macro-nutrients: Why? What? When? How Much?

A 3-phase diet guide suited to YOUR weight category.

Make the weight easier than ever with advice on what to eat on fight week, on the day and before you climb the ropes. 

Click here to learn more.