Nutrition during a boxing competition
In a boxing competition, boxers aim to have low body weight in order to have an advantage over their opponents since they are categorized according to their body mass. Unfortunately, many boxers falsely try to reduce their weight via extreme rapid weight loss practices like hypothermic diets, severe energy restriction and dehydration known as “drying out.”
The above extreme techniques for rapid weight loss can negatively affect performance and compromise health. Professional boxers should reach their weight target with steady and guided consultation with an Accredited Dietitian in order to maximize their performance.
Athletes as well as coaches, need to understand that reducing weight in the long term involves body fat loss and should be achieved through a reduction in total energy intake. However, during this time it is important to follow a plan that will also satisfy hunger, fuels training and promote recovery.
Reducing weight before the competition
The following strategies should only be applied 48-72 hours before competition and are not representative of an ideal diet to support optimal training.
Strategies to reduce weight at the last minute before a competition:
- Reducing salt intake : Limiting foods high in salt and avoiding adding salt to meals can help minimize fluid retention and therefore contribute to short term weight loss
- Small reductions in fluid intake (always in the guidance of an Accredited Dietitian)
- Low residue diet: A method of manipulating a diet to minimize fibre intake in order to clear gastrointestinal contents)
Many athletes tend to feel nervous and unable to eat before a competition. However, it is crucial to consume a carbohydrate rich meal to provide them with energy to be able to compete efficiently.
It is recommended to choose light, easy to digest, low fat, low fibre foods to provide energy while minimizing gut discomfort.
Meal/snack ideas (Before the game):
- sports bars
- plain pasta
- simple sandwiches
- dry biscuits
- Homemade granola bar
- A slice of bread with a tablespoon of honey
- Porridge with apple slices
- Crackers with marmelade
Fluids: During competitions, there is a gap after the weighing and the game, this time should be used to replace fluids and electrolytes before the game. Consuming sodium containing fluids in small frequent sips will achieve the best results.
After an exhausting competition, recovery can be achieved by eating a meal or snack (within 30-60 minutes) that contains carbohydrate to replace muscle glycogen stores; protein to speed up muscle repair and fluid to replace sweat losses.
Ideas for snacks after a competition:
- Low fat fruit smoothie
- Cereal bar + low fat milk
- Yoghurt + chopped fruit + bottle of water
- Banana with peanut butter +Chocolate milk (low- fat)
- Omelette or salad with eggs
- Tuna sandwich or tuna salad
- Yogurt with nuts and fruits
- Black beans and quinoa burger
Remember: Everyone is different
Every athlete has different nutritional needs and what is good for one is not necessarily good for another.
Clinical Dietitian – Nutritionist, MSc
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Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA). (2018). Boxing – Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA). [online] Available at: https://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/factsheets/food-for-your-sport/boxing/ [Accessed 26 Jan. 2018].
Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA). (2018). Make Weight for Competition the Right Way – Sports Dietitians Australia. [online] Available at: https://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/sda-blog/make-weight-competition/ [Accessed 26 Jan. 2018].