Do you wonder what to have for Breakfast to improve physical performance?
This article will explain why breakfast is important meal for Boxing, and what foods and fluids boxers should eat for Breakfast to help fuel their training performance.
- Breakfast is an important meal & has several benefits for boxers
- Training day breakfasts should include carbohydrates to provide the boxer with sufficient fuel for training sessions
- Rest day breakfasts should include protein, fats, fruits or vegetables
- Some select training sessions may be best performed when carbohydrates are restricted
WRITTEN BY PERFORMANCE NUTRITIONIST JACK COAK (MSc, SENr)
Most boxers will have been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Whilst some boxers will have been told to or may choose to skip breakfast all together, due to the following reasons:
- A lack of time due to work & training commitments
- Engagement in early morning training sessions (fasted)
- Belief that skipping breakfast will aid weight loss
- A lack of meal/recipe ideas
- Can’t stomach breakfast in the morning pre-training
But despite these reasons, there are several benefits to having breakfast if you are a boxer.
BENEFITS OF HAVING BREAKFAST
Breakfast is what it says on the tin, it BREAKS-A-FAST. This fast can last nearly 15 hours depending on the individual, when their last meal was & how long they slept for.
Regardless of the length of the fasting window it is still a long time to go without providing the body with food or water, this is why having breakfast is important as it provides the body with essential nutrients as well as glucose which helps supply a steady source of energy.
Key Benefits Of Having Breakfast:
- Breaks the overnight fast
- Increases chance of consuming more micronutrients/vitamins in the day
- Refills liver glycogen stores (fuel tank) which depletes overnight
- Provides a source of protein to protect against losses in muscle mass
- Reduces likelihood of overeating later in the day & exceeding calorie targets
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TRAINING DAY BREAKFAST
Breakfast on training days should include a moderate portion of carbohydrates such as oats or bread to help top up the bodies muscle glycogen stores (the bodies main fuel tank) to ensure there is sufficient gas in the tank ready to be used during high intensity training sessions later in the day.
We mentioned that liver glycogen depletes after an overnight fast i.e. sleeping. Therefore this also needs to be topped back up at breakfast time. Fructose, which is the simple sugar found in most fruits, helps promote liver glycogen synthesis, whilst glucose predominantly aids muscle glycogen synthesis.
Therefore a breakfast which contains a portion of fruit such as a banana or a glass of fresh fruit juice would be a good option on a training day.
Lastly a training day breakfast should also aim to include a protein source which contains roughly 20-30g of protein such as eggs, yogurt, milk, whey protein, yogurt or beans. The inclusion of protein will help slow the digestion of the meal down helping keep a boxer fuller for longer & will also help protect muscle mass breakdown during exercise.
Example Training Day Breakfast – 2 Eggs On 2 Bits Of Toast & Bowl Of Fresh Fruit.
REST DAY BREAKFAST
Carbohydrate requirements for boxers are typically lower on rest days compared to training days (at least they should be). This is due to reductions in exercise activity & rates of energy expenditure (less calories burned). Rest days provide an ideal opportunity for boxers to target a lower calorie amount & reductions in fat mass to help aid their body composition goals.
Breakfasts on rest days should focus on high quality protein to promote muscle growth & repair, healthy fats to aid muscle soreness & cognitive function & 2/3 portions of fruit or vegetables to provide a nutrient hit.
- Protein – Eggs, Smoked Salmon, Greek Yogurt, Turkey Bacon, Tofu
- Healthy Fats – Avocado, Walnuts, Almonds, Olive Oil, Smoked Salmon
- Fruit/Veg – Spinach, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Berries, Apple, Oranges
You can check out some quick & easy breakfast options for training days & rest days to use as an example below.
SHOULD I EAT BREAKFAST BEFORE AM TRAINING SESSIONS?
One scenario where DELAYING, not skipping breakfast may be useful, would be for Boxers completing low intensity steady state cardio (Zone 1/2 Runs) first thing in the morning.
The aim of these sessions are to utilise adipose (fat) stores to produce energy, gain muscular adaptations & help reduce the reliance of carbohydrates as a fuel source at rest. This helps to make boxers engines more efficient at utilising different fuel sources during exercise which will help aid performance in the ring. Therefore consuming a carbohydrate rich breakfast such as porridge would be counterproductive.
One important point to note is that boxers who are in a negative energy balance are susceptible to muscle mass losses. Consuming a hit of protein before carbohydrate restricted (not fasted) sessions will help to protect against these losses.
I would recommend consuming a protein source which contains around 20g of protein & is easy to digest, liquid sources such as a whey protein shake, SIS whey 20 gel or essential amino acid shakes/drinks are the best option here & will help protect against muscle mass losses.
Lastly, boxers who may be doing boxing training sessions or any high intensity sessions early in the morning before breakfast, may benefit from consuming a carbohydrate source which provides around 30-60g of easily digestible carbohydrates. This will help to provide a quick source of energy to delay fatigue so you can get the most out of your training session.
Good Options Include:
- 1 x Large Banana & 250ml Apple Juice
- 1 x Lucozade Sport & Handful Dried Fruit
- 1 x Isotonic Carbohydrate Gel & Sliced Pineapple
- Breakfast is an important meal for boxers to have
- Training day breakfasts should contain a moderate to high portion of carbohydrates to provide boxers with energy for their sessions
- Rest day breakfasts should be lower in carbohydrates & higher in healthy fats to help facilitate alterations in body composition
- Boxers may benefit from completing low intensity sessions carbohydrate restricted to gain important muscular adaptations