Any fan of ‘old school boxing’ has likely seen vintage newsreel footage of legends like Rocky Marciano training for a fight up in the Catskills. ‘The Rock’ would get up early, do his ‘road work’ (running) and then return for breakfast. The big difference between then and now is that the ‘training table’ breakfast looked more like an all you can eat Las Vegas breakfast buffet than that of a serious athletes. Based on the archival footage every one would pile around a table and devour all of the usual breakfast goodies–pancakes, sausage, eggs and bacon–in large quantities.
Sports conditioning has changed dramatically in the past few decades and now any trainer that tried to feed his fighter like that would be fired. Athletes in most sports make diet a fundamental component of their conditioning program and eat in a manner conducive with the demands of their profession. There are a lot of similarities in the training regimen of top prize fighters and NFL football players. While there are many theories about what an athlete should eat to achieve a specific result here’s a few things that a boxer or football player would likely do with their diet:
1) NO JUNK FOOD: This one should be obvious. You can’t perform at peak athletic capacity and regularly eat junk food. For that reason an athlete in training cuts out anything that doesn’t serve a specific nutritional purpose. Moderate to no booze, no soft drinks, no chips, no cookies and no fast food. Some athletes are more adamant about this than others and many also allow themselves a ‘cheat day’ once a week.
2) NO FOOD THAT SEEM HEALTHY BUT AREN’T: This is a broad area and as noted above there are many competing theories on what fits into this category. Many athletes avoid milk, for example, while others consider it an important component of a training diet. Other foods that may or may not be problematic are wheat based food, excess fruit juice, milk and dairy products and many commercially packaged foods that claim to be ‘low fat’ or ‘low carb’.
3) UPGRADE WHAT YOU’VE ELIMINATED: If you do this part right you can get the health benefits of the above mentioned foods without the downsides. For example, many athletes avoid milk from cows but drink almond and coconut milk. Others won’t eat bread and cereal but will eat rice and potatoes. The point is to not just cut the bad items out of a diet but to replace them with more beneficial choices.
4) THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS: Once you’ve put together a good diet there may still be areas in which you could use some help. Maybe you have bad sleep habits or suffer from stress. These areas can be helped with the right menu of dietary supplements. Another effective area for supplement use is protein based supplements to help ‘bulk up’ or build muscle.
Simply put, the best workout regimen in the world is useless without the right ‘fuel’ in your body. Make sure to not only eat healthy but to build a diet that works with both your individual body characteristics and the demands of your sport.