Meal Plan for a Fighter - Eating on Fight Day

The plan below is aimed at providing adequate fuel on the day of a fight where the fighter has already dropped their body weight sufficiently low to compete at their desired weight class, and they do not have to worry about making a weight (see Making a weight for a Fight). By this stage the fighter should have been following a suitable diet to maximise their power to weight ratio for some time, and everything should be in check. This plan focuses on correct nutrition and optimal energy for the fighter to be adequately fuelled for the fight.

The last few days before a fight are the most important time for diet manipulation in order to achieve your desired weight, whilst ensuring the individual has sufficient energy to perform at their very best in the ring. During the few days prior, the aim is to deplete the muscles of their carbohydrate stores, then reload them with quality carbs in order to super-compensate and store more than before for optimal energy. The diet for the last few days will have consisted of regular portions of fibrous starchy carbohydrate foods like basmati rice, potatoes, pasta, cereals and sweet potatoes, as well as good intakes of vegetables and protein foods like meat, fish, poultry and dairy products.

For the sake of timings we'll assume the fight is in the evening, around 8pm; if the time is different then adjust accordingly. The goals of fight day's nutrition are to preserve the muscle's carbohydrate stores which have been loaded over the past 2-3 days, to keep feeling energised for the evening's fight. This is particularly if the fight is over a number of rounds to ensure sufficient reserves to fight for a long time. It's also important to avoid being bloated and sluggish in the ring.

It is crucial not to do any significant exercise on the day prior to or the day of the fight to preserve reserves. All you should be doing is some light stretching and maybe a gentle walk. A good breakfast will set you in good stead and the rest of the day you need small amounts of protein foods, with a mixture of medium and low glycaemic carbohydrate foods at intervals through the day. Use a small amount of high glycaemic carbs right before the fight, but use them carefully. See our Glycaemic Index Tables for GI values of foods.

It is imperative to be properly hydrated, as lack of fluid will be more of a limitation on performance than lack of energy. An isotonic drink will help maintain fluid balance, but as long as you are sipping water regularly all day you'll be optimising your hydration. The salt is included to help retain fluid. Lightly splashing water onto your brow before the fight is a useful hydrating tip as this will help keep you cool and reduce sweating, and hence water loss, and will also help reduce the risk of sweat running into the eyes.

Also consume fruit and veg as well and plenty of fluid all day. The following plan is a good example of what a boxer and martial art fighter should consume on fight day in order to help them fight with maximum energy and endurance.

1 scoop whey protein powder in water
Breakfast 8.00am
Porridge: 100g oats + 200ml skimmed milk + 2 tbsp sugar
2 slices granary bread + low fat spread + jam
150g chicken breast + salt
1 medium jacket potato
Lunch 1.00pm
150g white fish (cod / haddock / plaice) + salt
50g basmati rice + tbsp sweetcorn
50g soft cheese or 100g cottage cheese / quark
6 oatcakes
Item fruit
1 scoop whey protein powder in water
6 oatcake biscuits
250ml bottle isotonic drink
3-4 squares chocolate
Sip water pre-fight but do not bloat yourself
After fight
Isotonic drink
Have a good meal of whatever you like to replenish

As with all the meal plans this is merely a guide. Include a variety of different meats / fish / alternatives, complex carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables every day, and drink plenty of water. Adapt the plan to suit your own needs.

Plans for people with illness or medical conditions in no way should override advice provided specifically for you by your doctor, clinical dietitian or other clinician. We advise that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified physician before commencing any exercise regime, following any dietary or nutritional regimen or beginning the use of any dietary supplements, legal or otherwise. The information provided on the Website is intended as information only and does not constitute advice. Therefore, it must not be relied on to assist in making or refraining from making a decision, or to assist in deciding on a course of action.