Foods Boxers Should Avoid – Nutrition Advice

Boxing is a demanding sport on your body and the food you eat has a significant role in your performance.

We’ve written before that the key to any successful diet is to focus on balance and moderation, but what foods should we be avoiding?

One man who knows a thing or two about what boxers should and shouldn’t eat is  Doctor Philip Goglia, he is the WBC’s Nutrition Committee Chairman.

This is his list of 8 foods boxers shouldn’t eat.

1. Dairy

Dairy on display with milk bottle, cut cheeses, cottage cheese, butter and eggs.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that dairy would be a good option for you as a boxer, after all, drinking a pint of milk has often been advertised as good for the bones or a cheese a great source of protein.

But Dr Goglia disagrees:

While many people consider dairy to be a protein, the body will utilise it first as lactose, or milk sugar. Therefore, people who believe that they can get sufficient protein in their daily diet from eating dairy products are misinformed.

Dairy, as a food, is phlegm and mucus producing and disruptive to digestion, causing in most people bloating and gas.

Phlegm – the thick viscous substance secreted by the mucous membranes of the respiratory passages, especially when produced in excessive quantities during a cold.

Aside from possibly elevating cholesterol, a diet rich in dairy products, such as butter and cheese, is going to create digestive difficulties.

Additionally, the sugars found in dairy are inflammatory and mucus producing. In fact, they inhibit the full use of our oxygen pathways, which is why as you speak to athletes and ask them about dairy consumption they will all tell you that they do not consume any dairy pre or post workouts, as it is like eating moderately hard phlegm and most of all, can contribute to elevated triglyceride levels and inflammation.

See our Beginner Diet Plan for Boxers

2. “Diet” Foods

A maple syrup food label that is 'low calorie' and 'sugar fee' from Vermont.

So you need to cut weight, drop a few pounds to be in tip-top condition, grabbing some “diet” food from the supermarket should help right? Unfortunately not.

“Diet” foods are examples of manufactured foods that are either, or a combination of low calorie – low fat – low sugar etc.

As manufactured foods, these items are generally more difficult to digest. They can, through the reduction of calories, cause cravings for higher sugar or higher fat foods to compensate for daily energy needs.

The best diet foods are ingredient foods that have not been tampered with like; rice, yams, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, chicken, fish, lean steak, vegetables, fruits.

There are no better diet foods than these.

3. Plumped Poultry

Woman choosing meat in supermarket aisle.

Plumped poultry is common to restaurants and fast food outlets where they soak their chicken in a salt water solution. This method is to “plump or tenderise” the chicken meat so that the cheaper cuts of meat would be tender and juicy, especially fried chicken.

This type of chicken holds more water and sodium per ounce of meat – the result is more flavourful, but one that contains a higher sodium count. This in turn, causes water retention in people who consume plumped poultry.

For people with high blood pressure and are at risk of coronary heart failure, this type of chicken is not a good choice.

Most recently meat corporations have made it a practice to plump their poultry for the same reasons but one additional frightening reason;

As the chicken is plumped it will weigh more per square inch of product, so a regular 6-ounce breast, when plumped, might weigh as much as 9 ounces post plumping.  Moreover, because of the additional sodium water solution, this chicken costs the consumer more, without costing the manufacturer more money to feed a larger chicken.

In turn, the manufacturer makes more profit and provides the consumer with a chicken breast that could damage heart health and cardiovascular health.

Nice right?

4. Meat Glue

A salmon, steak and chicken cut on steel counter.

Meat Glue, or to give it its technical name, Transglutaminase, is an enzyme that is used to bind proteins. It makes uniform portions meats like fish fillets or tenderloins, that cook evenly, look good and reduce waste.

The ‘glue covered meat’ is rolled up in a plastic film, followed by refrigeration. Some manufacturers have gotten so proficient at the practice that even an expert butcher can’t tell the difference between a piece of prime beef and one that’s been glued together with bits and pieces of scraps.

So before you stick that nicely shaped piece of meat in the oven, hear what Dr Goglia has to say:

Since food manufacturers are not required to disclose what they’ve done, you think you’re buying a prime cut when in fact you’re paying top price for glued-together bits and pieces that would otherwise have been discarded or sold for a fraction of the cost.

But aside from the fact that it’s a pure scam, there’s the increased possibility of contracting food poisoning from these meats, the bacterial contamination of meat glued steak hundreds of times higher than a solid piece of steak

If you cook your steak rare, which is the healthiest way to cook your meat, you’re at a much greater risk of contracting food poisoning.

Additionally, when an outbreak does occur, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to discern the source of the contamination, as chunks of meat from multiple cows have now been combined.

Meat glue is also used for pork, ham, lamb and fish products.

Source your meat responsibly, ask questions, don’t be fooled by marketing or “bargain meat” deals.

Read a lesson on Fat and Sugar Pairings from Dr Goglia

5. Soy

A glass of soy milk with soy beans arranged on a wooden spoon around the glass.

Soy is a bean and it is considered a sugar/starch, in many vegetarian communities it is considered a protein source.

In fact, there are amino acids within the bean, but the amino acid structures are not highly biologically available.

Protein utilization is scored on a 0 to 100 chart for utilisation, as an example, egg scores 100.

Soy and many other plant-based proteins are scored in the bottom third.

Keep in mind that though there are amino acid groupings in plant-based products like soy, it is still a bean and starch/sugar first and foremost.

Additionally, soy is high in estrogen and has been linked to numerous cancers primarily breast cancer in both men and women.

Products high in estrogen, like wheat and soy, are unfavourable choices, especially for men.

6. Juice

Orange juice in a mason glass with an orange cut in half and wooden orange squeezer.

In the UK, 45% of adults drink juice and ‘juicing’ has become pretty trendy recently, but Dr Goglias suggests that boxers should be careful before they reach for that glass of OJ.

Juice is a low fibre sugar, it rapidly penetrates the bloodstream causing an almost immediate rise in blood glucose and an insulin spike, resulting in a rapid energy response and then within a number of minutes a loss of energy, lethargy and the risk of additional sugar cravings.

Freshly squeezed juices do have macro and micronutrient benefits, some are high in antioxidants, some high in vitamin C, some have immune system benefits.

Juices are best consumed as a fresh squeezed or cold-pressed product.

Juices from concentrates have a low nutritional value and can be extremely caloric.

Cold-pressed juices should be consumed within 48 hours of manufacturing.

The cold pressed juices certainly are loaded with live food enzymes and provide antioxidant benefits, but if juices are not cold pressed or freshly squeezed and come from concentrate then they provide a sugar source that will activate rapid insulin response, like any simple sugar would, the result is the possibility of low blood sugar, a drop in energy and craving stimulation for more sugar.

Like with all nutrients, too much of anything could be a bad thing, when small amounts could possibly be a benefit

7. Dried Fruit

A market stall piled high with varieties of dried fruit including prunes and apricots.

Traditionally a Christmas favourite, but more commonly of late, a snacking option.

Dr Goglias prefers fresh fruit to dried fruit:

Dried fruit is a source of sugar and fibre only. With no additional water for transport, dried fruit is highly caloric and easily spikes energy and insulin levels and then can just as quickly cause a substantial drop in energy and additional sugar cravings caused by the insulin spike.

Dried fruit can be digestively disruptive, causing gas and bloating for many people with irritable bowel syndrome.

The better choice over dried fruit is fresh fruit, with its naturally occurring water for more efficient sugar transport.

As with all fruits, there can be micronutrient and antioxidant benefits but in the context of dried fruit, at what disruptive digestive cost?

8. Multi-Ingredient Foods

A close up of a fast food breakfast muffin with a hash brown.

Bread, muffins, bagels are yeast mould gluten bound.

They are inflammatory foods and can reduce metabolic efficiency and stimulate food sensitivities like digestive, gas bloating, slow digestion.

Even many of the “whole wheat grain” breads are coloured to look darker or healthier and the fibre used in them are insoluble fibres – the cheaper the better for the cereal companies.

Avoid these inflammatory food choices, no food consumed that contains:

Yeast, mould, gluten, dairy, refined sugar, no bread, muffins, bagels, whole wheat breads. Nothing that is considered a multi-ingredient starch.

Foods used daily should be one ingredient starches like potato, rice, yam, sweet potato, and oatmeal.

9. Fizzy Drinks including Diet Varieties

2 pints of coke with ice and a slice of lemon for decoration.

Okay, so an obvious one to round up our list, but even the diet fizzy drink should be avoided.

Both regular and diet fizzy drinks should be grouped in the same category, as they contain numerous adverse metabolic side effects.

A 600 ml ‘bottle of pop’ contains 16 teaspoons of sugar!

The average American consumes nearly 42 gallons of sweetened beverages every year; After 6 months, daily consumption of sugary drinks will increase the fat deposits in a person’s liver by 150%, a direct contributor to diabetes and heart disease.

Diet fizzy drinks are useless and do not promote weight loss. In fact, they adversely affect metabolism by de-regulating correct insulin response and carbohydrate management, the result can be nutritionally devastating as in many cases the use of diet soda stimulates unwanted sugar cravings.

Diet sodas are artificially sweetened with chemicals like aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, acesulfame-k or sucralose. The sweetness and zero calorie content actual promote “metabolic syndrome”, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

A few final words from Dr Goglias:

  • Be careful of your choices, everything has a consequence.
  • Be strategic in your food patterns daily and weekly, as well as water consumption.
  • Stay as consistent as possible to maintain appropriate caloric heat patterns.