Why Should Boxers Eat Breakfast
Jack Coak

Jack Coak

Performance Nutritionist (MSc, SENr)

Why Should Boxers Eat Breakfast

You have probably heard it before – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, in boxing there is a lot of white noise surrounding breakfast, with boxers being told to skip breakfast to reduce daily energy intake or to train fasted or to only have a low carb breakfast as this will help them make weight easier (classic rubbish advice). To cut a long story short it can be an absolute minefield for fighters to navigate. 

There are several benefits associated with boxers having breakfast & in my personal opinion as someone actively working with many professional boxers it shouldn’t be something which is skipped or cut out of the diet – only if the individual really doesn’t like consuming food early in the day.

In this blog I will talk you through the benefits of consuming breakfast & hopefully give you some ideas on how to start your day off on the front foot so you can have a productive training day & make weight with ease!

What Are The Benefits Of Having Breakfast For Boxers

To start off with, breakfast is what it says on the tin – it breaks a fast, in this case an overnight fast. During this period the body completes a fast lasting between 7-12 hours where no foods or fluids are consumed (unless the boxer in question raids the fridge at 2am!).

The completion of this natural fast means that the body wakes up in a depleted & slightly dehydrated state – which highlights the importance of breakfast to help supply the body with essential nutrients & combat any dehydration which has occurred overnight. 

The key benefits of consuming breakfast are as follows:

– Supplies a steady supply of blood glucose to stabilise energy levels

– Increases daily consumption of fruit & veg (2-5 portions can be eaten)

– Refills liver glycogen stores which become depleted overnight

– Provides a source of protein to stimulate muscle protein synthesis to help negate against losses in lean tissue

– Reduces hunger later on in the day which can lead to the overconsumption of calories

Interestingly research conducted by Metcalfe et al., 2021 reported that the omission of a carbohydrate rich breakfast impairs evening endurance performance despite the equal consumption of calories at lunchtime prior to training. 

These findings, although not taking from boxing research, suggests that boxers should include carbohydrates in their training day breakfasts to ensure overall performance in evening boxing sessions is protected.

What Happens When A Boxer Skips Breakfast

There are a few potential negatives which are associated with a boxer skipping breakfast. From personal practice I have witnessed boxers who do skip breakfast actually over consume calories which are matched to their goals in regards to reducing body mass. This is due to increased hunger levels throughout the rest of the day due to skipping breakfast & not feeling satiated. This is something I have witnessed with boxers who skip breakfast & then complete a hard training session in the morning – this appears to lead to a hedonic response to eating where a boxer wants to consume everything in sight after training.

Consuming an adequate breakfast can help provide a steady supply of energy & stabilise blood glucose levels during the day, but most importantly keep a boxer fully satiated so they don’t feel the desire to snack & therefore overeat between meals.

What Should Boxers Eat For Breakfast On Training Days?

Breakfast on training days should aim to provide roughly 30% of calories for the day & should include all 3 macronutrients, protein to help aid muscle recovery, carbohydrates to fuel performance & fats to maintain optimal brain function & of course fluid to start hydrating!

The amount of carbohydrates required at breakfast will depend on individual circumstances & the intensity of training being completed that given day (for example sparring will require more carbohydrates than pad work or a run).

However, as a rule of thumb I would recommend the breakfast to be made up of mainly carbohydrates whether that be brown bread, oats or cereal. This will help to top up muscle glycogen stores (the bodies main fuel tank) to ensure a boxer has enough fuel in them ready to complete high intensity exercise later on in the day.

Earlier on, I mentioned that liver glycogen stores deplete overnight, these stores are basically the bodies supply fuel tank & also need to be topped up. This can be achieved by including foods rich in fructose (a fruit sugar) so I would recommend including fruits such as Bananas, Mango or Jam with breakfast.

Example Breakfast – Mango & Banana Yogurt Granola Pot

– 200g Skyr Natural Yogurt 

– 30g Jordans Granola 

– 1 Small Banana

– 50g Chopped Mango 

– 20g Mixed Nuts

Calories: 464, Carbs: 53g, Protein: 31g, Fat: 15g

Protein is also an important part of any training day breakfast & boxers should aim to consume around 20-35g of protein with their breakfast such as eggs, low fat skyr/greek yogurt, milk, whey protein, tofu or beans. The inclusion of a protein source abundant in essential amino acids will help to not only slow down the rate of digestion of food but will also help keep a boxer fuller for longer as well as protecting against muscle breakdown caused during exercise.

What Should Boxers Eat For Breakfast On Rest Days?

Breakfasts for boxers are slightly different on rest days as naturally there is a lower reliance on carbohydrates to supply energy as energy expenditure is reduced. Rest days provide a boxer with an ideal opportunity to focus on good quality nutrition centred around protein, healthy fats & lots of colourful fruits & vegetables to help aid recovery, reduce inflammation & reduce body fat mass.

Examples Of Good Quality Rest Day Breakfasts Include:

– Turkey & Spinach Omelette With Avocado & Salad

– Scrambled Eggs With Heck Chicken Sausages & Veggies

– Greek Yogurt, Nuts, Seeds & Berries

– Protein Pancakes With Greek Yogurt & Banana

Summary

Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day, especially on training days where reliance on carbohydrates to fuel performance is a key player in achieving optimal performance levels in training sessions.

Boxers who skip breakfast are more likely to overeat later on in the day due to increased hunger levels which can lead to body mass remaining the same.

Having breakfast can help you train harder which increases your chances of improving as a fighter & thus improves your chances of winning on fight night!

Thanks for reading.

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