DURING calorie-restriction and the last three days of weight-making, you can replace carbohydrate with protein to minimise detriment to performance. Not only does protein require the use of more calories for digestion and processing, but higher protein diets decrease water retention and will help preserve muscle mass during the last days of weight reduction.


  • Aim to consume most calories from carbohydrate-rich foods.
  • Make room for the carb-calories by decreasing oils, fats, and portioning your protein.
  • Stay hydrated to support forthcoming high-intensity performance.


  • Replace carbohydrates with protein, reducing the overall size of your meals to minimise calorie intake. However, this is a compromise with the superior performance offered by high-carb diets. Compromise by eating a small amount of slow-release carb before training. Focus on small, caloriedense, carb-rich foods that provide a lot of energy for their weight. These “low substrate foods” will give you energy
    without registering on the scales.
  • Some athletes may even be forced to try and minimise their water retention by reducing the salt content of their foodand consuming fluids in relation to their weight-reduction goals. However, be warned that acute dehydration will impair performance and increase the risk of injury. Fighters should track the short-term weight-loss before competition, and aim to replace 1.5x their sweat losses with highsodium fluids.

Suggestions for the lead up to the weigh-in


  • Ice-pops: If you’re tight at the weight, ice pops are a good, lightweight source of carbohydrate to keep your mouth moist.
  • Cereal bars: Carb bars support the strategy of eating very small, carb-rich snacks which won’t register on the scales come weigh-in. Mule Recovery bars contain 14g serving of protein, also taking post
    weigh-in recovery into account.
  • Dried Fruit: Apple Slices/Dried Blueberries.

After the weigh-in fuel for performance


In between weigh-in and fighting you should rehydrate 1.5 times your sweat losses with electrolytes. For example if you normally weigh 63.5kg in the evening, but have stayed ‘dry’ to hit 62Kg, then drink 2.25 litres.Consuming a salty solution of about 0.9g sodiumper litre is achievable by using sports drinks and electrolytes like diarolyte or Maxinutrition Electrotabs. Be wary of full-sugar sports drinks if you have limited time until competition as really strong solutions of carb will slow rehydration by delaying the emptying of the stomach.

If you have to make weightsubsequently, keep weighing yourself before and after contests to see how much you can afford to drink, whilst staying on-weight.

Sweat loss Rehydration Fluids = ( x 1.5 ) Sodium per Litre Products/ drinks
1Kg 1.5L 1.4g in 1.5L ¾ tsp salt + cordial OR 6 x Diarolyte/maximuscle
electrotabs in 1.5L cordial
(lower sugar if you’re using
gels and high-carb meals)
1.5Kg 2.25L 2g in 2.25L 1 tsp salt + 1.5L cordial…
9 x Diarolyte/maximuscle
electrotabs in 2.25L cordial
2Kg 3L 2.7g in 3L 1 ½ tsp salt + 3L cordial
12 x Diarolyte/maximuscle
electrotabs in 3L cordial


Sports with intermittent, intense bursts of activity are particularly responsive to carbohydrate feeding, improving performance, enhancing high-intensity, anaerobic performance (if you ‘feel the burn’ of lactic acid, your body’s burning carbs). Therefore competition is all about the carbs. Large servings of protein increase the acid-load on the body and are harder to digest than starchy carbohydrates. You won’t be able to build any more muscle, or lose any more fat on the day, so it’s all about topping up muscleglycogen
to support maximal performance.

  • Aim to consume 1 gramme of carbohydrate per kilo of body mass after weigh-in, with about 0.3g protein per kilo to aid recovery after weight reduction. (70g carbs and 21g protein for a light-middleweight boxer).
  • Repeat this meal pattern every few hours between weigh-in and competition depending on how well you tolerate food pre-exercise and how long there is between weighing in and fighting.


Examples of moderate-GI carbs for steady energy, 70g carbs.

  • One bean salad wrap + one portion of sweetcorn.


  • One Mediterranean salad + one portion of sweet-potato mash.


The following suggestions are recommended for the ideal situation of fuelling without weight restrictions,
for example after a day-before weigh-in or when your weight-making has gone perfectly to plan. Each meal aims for the 70g carbohydrate with 20g protein suggested for a 70kg light-middleweight. If you’re still struggling with weight, amend the menu according to the advice given previously, varying the ratios of protein and carbs.

  • High-carb breakfast:

o Baked beans on whole-grain toast + one portion of porridge.


o High-fibre cereal + one portion of granola and yogurt.

  • Lunch

o Similar meal to post-weigh-in (70g carb, 20g protein).

  • Pre-fight meal: (four-five hours before your fight)

o Similar meal to post-weigh-in.

  • There may be some advantage in choosing slower-release, less sugary carbs earlier in the day of your fight to regulate energy and prevent a ‘carb coma’.
  • If you suffer from pre-fight nerves and can’t eat, use meal replacements/drinks.
  • Other examples:
  • ­ Cereal bars e.g. Go-Ahead bar, Alpen, Special K, Nutrigrain.
  • ­ Fruit e.g. canned fruit, fresh fruit.
  • ­ White bread with honey or jam.
  • Acute pre –fight fuel: one hour before the fight.

o Sip sports drink/water as needed.

o Consider one serving of caffeinegels/ pre-trainers if you normally use them (make sure they’re batch tested).

o Vitargo (barley starch) may also be beneficial for accessing instant energy. Use it while warming up and between rounds for an instant sugar hit. This ‘high-weight polymer’ is actually faster acting than table sugar.

o Cherry Active. For acute effects, Cherry Active may provide a brilliant, tasty carb boost that could actually oppose the stress and damage from exercise. Take pre-fight to boost your antioxidant arsenal.