WHAT a difference a month makes. Before Christmas I wrote a blog on maintaining weight and fitness over the festive period, inspired by the upcoming bouts of Anthony Joshua, Anthony Crolla, and the impending commencement of the World Series of Boxing (WSB). The former two bouts have been cancelled due to injuries to those named fighters, whilst I was very nearly spattered with blood in my ringside seat after the gaping gash suffered by Antony Fowler in his WSB clash. Therefore, this blog is set to offer advice on injury. How can you limit the damage of enforced inactivity, or better yet, support the healing process with nutrition? I will briefly lay out some of the major nutritional considerations for an injured boxer, and some strategies that can help you regain fighting fitness as quickly as possible.

The foremost consideration for any weight categorized athlete must simply be energy balance. An athlete training twice a day will very easily burn half again as many calories as they do when inactive. For example a typical, lean welterweight may expend 3000 Kcal of energy when in full training, but only around 1800 Kcal when inactive. However, the healing process itself requires energy to fuel regeneration, and injury may stimulate the immune system into overdrive, breaking down muscle to fuel other repair processes. An athlete must eat enough to recover, but not so much that they gain weight. Secondly, an athlete must ensure they are eating a diet nutritious enough to fuel their recovery. Muscle must be repaired, tissues regenerated, and chemical reactions propagated – we need to feed the repair process itself. Finally, such dietary strategies need to be specific to the boxer, and specific to the injury. Every athlete is different when you consider their appetites, physiology and responses to different nutrients. Learning about a boxer’s body and developing their own individualized set of nutritional habits is key to the work I do with all of my athletes.

Energy and injury

  • Energy (measured in Calories) is required for repair processes, meaning that metabolic rate may increase significantly during rehabilitation
  • However, injury will mean an athlete’s overall energy expenditure is far lower due to their reduced training load
  • Most energy is consumed by athletes in the forms of carbohydrates and fat
  • During injury however, the demand for protein-calories at rest is far greater than normal
  • Athletes should aim to consume sufficient calories, but moderate their intakes of fats, and carbohydrates according to their specific training load
    • ◦ o Weigh yourself daily and adjust your intake of fat and carbohydrate to counteract weight-gain
      • ▪ Reduce both of these sources of energy, filling up on protein and vegetables if weight increases
    • ◦ o Current evidence on fasting would suggest that such processes would reduced levels of hormones that aid repair, and worsen the body’s stress-response
      • ▪ Eat little and often –eat to plan, and at not other times!
    • ◦ Aim to include protein rich foods in every meal, and accompany these with a varied selection of vegetables (at least 3 different colours).
      • ▪ o By basing meals on large servings of less energy-dense vegetables, overall calorie intake is moderated, whilst a moderate relative proportion of carbohydrate maintained.
      • ▪ o In addition, this may also help to regulate the acid load on the body, further aiding rehabilitation and reducing the potentially acidifying effect of a high protein diet

Oily fish and vegetable sources of essential fats should not be neglected, whilst additional starches can be added in proportion to training volume

Regulating energy, protein, carbohydrate and fat throughout injury


  • Eating carbohydrate is the most effective way to counteract stress-hormone responses that can cause muscle-breakdown and prevent recovery
  • Levels of the muscles’ energy store, glycogen, are negatively associated with muscular injury in athletes
  • Athletes should moderate their carbohydrate intakes according to their specific training load, to allow rehabilitation whilst preventing unwanted fat gain
  • Consider the demands of rehab exercises when planning your carbohydrate intake and WEIGH YOURSELF DAILY TO ASSESS AND LIMIT ANY DAMAGE TO BODY COMPOSITION
  • Fats also help us absorb certain vital vitamins including many antioxidants that may aid recovery
  • However, fat contains a lot of energy that will cause fat-gain if eaten in excess
  • Regulate the amount of fat in your diet by choosing lean cuts of meat and portioning high fat foods like oils, spreads and nuts
  • Aim to strike a balance between energy intake and the possible health benefits offered by fat soluble vitamins and (potentially) certain polyunsaturated fats, by:
    • ◦ o Separating meals into either higher fat/low carbohydrate (to provide the fuel normally used during low intensity exercise – for example a mackerel salad with olive oil dressing)


  • Maintaining a consistently high proportion of protein-calories is essential, and athletes should be wary of neglecting protein at the expense of carbohydrates and fat


  • Essential fats are the building blocks of hormones and immune effectors that can help the healing process
  • Consuming essential fats (omega 3) can help regulate inflammation and overtraining-related symptoms in athletes


  • o Higher carbohydrate with minimal fat (to refuel and reload muscle glycogen without consuming too many total calories – like a bakes sweet potato with tuna in brine)
  • Some supplements may help athletes consume enough protein and “good fats” while still not exceeding their daily energy targets, as well as offering specific benefits for rehab. Be aware that no supplements are risk free when it comes to contamination and doping offences, and that all supplementation strategies should be supervised by a qualified professional and run by your doctor of you have medical issues. Supplements with promising evidence include:

Omega-3 Fish-Oils

Supplementation has been shown to help athletes recover from tendinopathy, while anti-catabolic effects from supplementation may help prevention of inflammatory disorders from training/ overtraining

High-antioxidant extracts, or vitamin C

Such strategies have been shown to reduce stress hormone levels when taken around exercise; bear in mind whether you want the stress of training to promote fitness gains, or whether simply resuming training is your primary objective. Various antioxidants such as quertecin and polyphenols can help lower cortisol levels although the research is not that conclusive


In order to achieve a high intake of quality protein for rehab, within the context of a low energy diet, whey protein is always a quality supplement choice

Get in touch to arrange nutritional support by phoning 07746075161, emailing me at freddybrown1984@gmail.com, or via my website, http://www.specificnutritionconsultancy.com/recipes-and-reviews

*For training information and workouts from some of the biggest names in combat sport don’t miss the Fighting Fit: Train like the Stars special*