A fighter’s diet and nutritional guide
Movies, TV, and countless training montages have taught us over the years that a fighter’s diet needs to be highly specialised to be effective.
In a reality, a fighter’s nutritional diet tends to have a lot in common with your normal ‘sensible diet’. It only varies in how much you eat and how often. Throughout this blog, we are going to discuss what is needed for a good fighter’s diet. This will help you get through your training, as well as ensuring you get the most out of it.
A fighter’s diet should start with the same building blocks which we should all use for a good diet. From there, a fighter will be able to adapt their nutritional plan based on the goals that they have for training, personal preference, workout schedule, and weight class.
The basics of a healthy diet
A good diet for anyone, not only fighters, should really begin with a few simple factors.
- Eating the right amount
When finding the right diet, you need to find the right amount of food to consume throughout the day to meet your daily energy needs, but not too much that you convert unused energy into fat.
- Eat a balanced diet
Throughout the day, your diet should include a good balance of all major macronutrients, including protein, fat, water, and carbohydrates.
- Eat a variety of foods
Different foods will contain different macronutrients that can be hard to find in other sources, so it is vitally important to consume a variety of different foods throughout your diet plan. Varying your consumption of foods will help ensure you do not miss out on any of the essentials you need.
This simple plan alone should be enough to develop a personalised diet for any fighter. But it may not provide enough detail or direction, especially as there is a lot of conflicting information and data out there nowadays.
How much should you eat?
Eating food supplies the body with the essential energy needed to function and complete tasks throughout the day. At a basic level, we need to eat just enough to make it through the days, and for the majority, this means consuming around 1800 to 2400 calories daily. Adding in activities like strength training or running may mean that you need to up these requirements.
There are several calculators online which can help you to determine how many calories you burn in a single day. This can also be helped by keeping track of the things you eat, therefore developing a good sense of roughly how many calories you are consuming.
Balancing the essentials
Despite popular belief, you should never try to significantly reduce or eliminate the consumption of fat, carbs, or protein in your diet for extended periods of time. Each of these macronutrients plays a vital role in your body’s functionality.
Instead, you may want to ensure that you are getting a balanced amount of all three throughout the day. Currently, the correct balance is believed to be:
- Carbs: 45-65%
- Protein: 15-35%
- Fat: 20-35%
You will want to adjust this balance based on your needs. You should also keep water in mind, as keeping a constant water consumption throughout the day will eliminate the chances of you getting dehydrated and tired throughout your workout.
Vary your consumption
To ensure that you have a well-balanced diet and are getting all of the necessary requirements, your daily food intake should include a range of different nutritional options.
For protein, you should look to lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, and beef, alongside plenty of seafood, like cod, prawns, and other shellfish, and plant-based options, such as chickpeas, soybeans, nuts, and lentils.
For carbohydrates, you should include both starchy foods like brown rice, whole grains, and potatoes, as well as non-starchy vegetables, such as spinach, peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes. You should try to avoid any simple sugars or highly processed foods.
Fat will likely be included in most of your meals in some form, as most animal-based foods contain amounts of fat. Avocados and nuts should also be considered as healthier fats, as they are plant-based options that provide diversity throughout your meal. You can also use oils such as coconut oil and olive oil when cooking your food as these are much healthier forms of fat.
Optimising your fighter’s diet to fit your training plan
Now then, we have covered the basics of a healthy and balanced nutritional diet, so its time to talk about how a fighter should modify their diet.
A fighter’s diet needs variety
Your caloric needs will vary considerably depending on your training goals and schedule. So, it will be difficult to set up a single basic diet which will meet all of your needs.
If you are more focused on building muscle, you will likely need to increase your protein consumption. An intense training session will demand more calories than a recovery day. Making weight for fights will also require a very different plan rather than your average training day.
At the end of the day, your training plan and your nutritional plan are linked no matter what, so you may as well develop them together.
Mealtimes for training fighters
When training, you should arrange your meal around your training schedule. Your biggest meal should always be around 2 hours before you train, as this ensures that you have plenty of energy and the correct macronutrients which are needed for your workout. If the upcoming workout is particularly intense, then you may need to have a snack just before you start. Otherwise, you shouldn’t need to eat again before your recovery meal.
Your recovery meal is one of the bigger meals throughout the day. You should eat something which replaces energy that has been burned during your workout.
Breakfast should be your only other relatively ‘big’ meal. Eating well in the morning can form a good base for what comes later and keeps you from feeling hungry before your next meal.
You should also aim to be eating around every three hours, with smaller snacks filling out the rest of your nutritional schedule. This will ensure that you are maintaining a healthy and steady stream of energy throughout the day. It will also help to keep any hunger from building up, limiting the risk of overeating.
As with most things, you will be the best judge of what is right for you. The diet that works for one fighter, may not work for another. You must adjust your diet based on your personal needs and preferences.
How can Sports Involve help you?
If you interested in starting your boxing career and are looking to find the right gym for you, or maybe your just looking to find your next coach or diet plan, Sports Involve can help you to find the perfect place to train using our online Club Directory, which is the UK’s largest directory of combats sports clubs. If you have a combat sports club in the UK and would like to add your club to our directory, please register here.