One thing that many boxers don’t know about, especially recreational boxers, is something called the glycemic index. In short, the glycemix index (GI) is a number that gives you an indication about how a particular food item will affect your blood sugar levels on a scale of 1-100, but most foods fall within 50-100. For example, pure sugar would have a value of 100, whereas something like a carrot has a much lower value around 35-40.
Why Does This Matter?
The GI comes into play primarily when preparing for training. Endurance athletes will typically consume foods that have a low glycemic index as the rise in blood sugar is very gradual and prolonged. So it’s a gradual rise followed by a gradual fall. In something like long distance running, this is beneficial because there is a constant supply of fuel, albeit low levels.
On the other hand, sprint-style athletes often consume food with higher a higher GI. If their event only lasts seconds or minutes, then a spike in blood sugar could be beneficial, as long as they don’t experience the “crash” while in their particular event.
What About Boxing?
There isn’t one particular food product or pattern to follow when boxing. It all depends on what your training will consist of that day. If you are going to be working on technique that will take some time and plan on being in the gym for a while, we would recommend foods with a lower GI. If you’re coming in with the plan to squeeze in a workout at very high intensity, then likely a higher GI food will be good for that.
For a comprehensive list of foods and their associated GI, please click here.
What about recovery?
GI can make a difference during recovery, but it doesn’t have as much of an influence on performance as the preparation phase. The main thing that matters is you are adequately refueling and are taking in a good proportion of carbs and protein. For workouts like boxing training, it is often recommended that a 3:1 carb to protein ratio within 45 minutes of exercise is best.
So what types of food have this ratio? Surprising to many, one of the absolute best foods, or in this case drinks, is chocolate milk! Finally, something that tastes delicious and is beneficial for your fitness! Generally speaking, about 500ml of chocalte milk post-workout should do. If there is lots of resistance training involved, then supplementing with a few more grams of protein could also be beneficial.
This doesn’t mean you should just sit around and drink chocolate milk all day. You still need to work out, and you need to consume it in moderation. Chocolate milk not your thing? A couple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread is also a great option. Again, depending on the workout, and how you typically eat on a daily basis (we are all on a budget) then some supplementation may be necessary. This could include vitamins, whey protein, and perhaps green veggie powders.
At the end of the day, the main thing that matters is you are conscious about the food you are eating and how it may affect your performance. If you know about GI, preparation, and recover, then you’re on a good pace towards an effective nutritional plan for boxing!