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Jack Coak

Performance Nutritionist (MSc, SENr)

Should Pro Boxers Cut Calories In Fight Week?

Fight week is the most important week of a boxer’s training camp. All the hard work has been put in over the course of the 8-10 week period & now it’s time to sharpen up on tactics & allow the body to relax & recover in preparation for fight night. However, one thing I see a lot of boxers do during fight week is put themselves through the mill by cutting back on their calories to try to make weight. In this short blog I’ll discuss why reducing energy intake during the most important week of camp is probably not the most sensible idea & how you can manage your nutrition to keep you fuelled & energised during your weight cut.

This Might Shock You But You Aren’t Losing Body Fat….

Fight week is not the time to be cutting back on calories or pushing yourself into a large energy deficit (something I see happen all the time). Eating 1000 calories per day in fight week will not gear you up for performing on fight night, instead you will go the whole of fight week feeling miserable & having to really drag yourself through those short sharp sessions with your coach. 

The rationale behind reducing calories is completely logical, I get it – reduce energy intake = lose more body fat = lose more weight. But…. if you were smart & got the help of a qualified nutritionist over the course of your training camp you would have reduced your fat mass to sensible levels over the period of 8-10 weeks. 

I don’t like to reduce calories way down in fight week with the fighters I work closely with. In fact I like to increase them, include foods they like & ensure they are happy & energised in fight week (someone say jelly & cream?). My job is to make things as least stressful as possible for my guys so they can concentrate on their job. I have had some fighters eat 2500 + calories per day leading up to their weigh in & still make weight comfortably. I am by no means blowing my own trumpet, I’m not a magician but we can use science to our advantage to help make the week a lot easier.

What Can We Manipulate During Fight Week?

There are a number of strategies that can be used during fight week to pull some “artificial” or “acute” weight off of a fighter to help them make weight safely. I like to have my guys starting fight week around 5-6% away from their official weigh in weight. Which would equate to roughly around 3-5kg of body mass to lose over 7-10 days (depending on the individual’s weight division of course).

One of the best strategies is to reduce carbohydrate intakes during this period as there are very few sessions during fight week which require carbohydrates to be used as a primary fuel source (low to moderate intensity). Lowering carbohydrate intakes to around 40-50g/day with intakes timed around any training sessions will help to reduce glycogen stores & intracellular water in the muscles.

This means a fighter will be consuming less calories from carbohydrates during this week meaning their total energy intake may reduce by 500-700 calories as a result. If one macronutrient intake decreases another one must therefore increase to meet energy demands. Fat is the best macronutrient to increase during fight week as it is high in energy (1g of fat = 9kcal) & does not bind to water in the body like carbohydrates do.

Examples Of Foods To Eat In Fight Week:

Now when I say increase your intake of dietary fats I don’t mean head to the nearest five guys to demolish some burgers with cheese. We still want to ensure we are fuelling the body with good quality fats including:

– Avocado’s

– Nuts (Walnuts, Pecans, Brazil Nuts)

– Free Range Eggs 

– Full Fat Greek Yogurt 

– Coconut/Olive Oil 

– Salmon Fillet 

– Lean Beef Steak 

– Organic Peanut Butter

These foods are high in energy to help keep you fuelled & energised during fight week & I would recommend you to include them in your meals during the final week of camp.

Thanks for reading, I hope this helps you during your next fight week.

If you are interested in working together 1-1 for your next camp & want me to provide you with a plan during fight week which is packed full of delicious food to keep you energised & helps you make weight safely then get in touch with me!


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