A Pro Boxer's Top Nutrition Tips for Optimal Athletic Performance
For an athlete who truly loves their sport — whether it be running, soccer, swimming, cycling or any other type of competitive endeavor — although training certainly comes with its own set of challenges, at the end of the day, sticking to a planned workout schedule becomes fairly routine.
The fact that you recognize the importance of each workout combined with your genuine passion for the sport, for the most part, helps to keep your training on track.
But while keeping up with the physical aspect of training may come pretty easily, for many athletes, maintaining a solid nutrition strategy can pose a much greater challenge.
We get it, because we’ve been there before — training hard brings on a pretty hearty appetite, so when it comes time to chow down, choosing the most nutritious options isn’t always easy. Obviously a greasy burger sounds so much more appealing than grilled chicken and veggies, but the difference between the two can be the difference between failure and success when it comes to achieving truly optimal athletic performance.
So, to find out how the pros fuel and the strategies they use to keep their eating habits on track, we turned to pro boxer "Showtime" Shawn Porter for some insight.
Porter became involved with boxing at a very young age — his dad began training him when he was just five years old.
“I didn’t start competing until I was eight. By the time I was 13, I had won numerous championships, solidifying my love for the sport,” he said. “I’ve always been an athletic and active person — through high school, I played football and was an all–around athlete and still am.”
Porter turned pro seven years ago when he turned 22 and since has earned a 26-1-1 record and 16 knockouts. He currently fights with Premier Boxing Champions and his most recent fight was featured on network TV.
“Fitness and nutrition is an everyday part of my life,” he explained. “My training isn’t exactly typical for a boxer – I incorporate swim workouts, track workouts, yoga and now a new bike workout in my regimen.”
Porter said a big part of his nutrition strategy involves going into each workout fully prepared with the right types of fuel.
“I try to focus on going into a workout with a mix of high carb and protein — oatmeal and egg whites for breakfast,” he said. “To prepare for my hardest sessions, I typically eat a combination of brown rice, tuna and garlic — the garlic helps regulate my heart. The tuna and brown rice gives me the energy I need, but isn’t too heavy.”
Sometimes, he added, he’ll include tofu but mainly, he aims to eat small portions regularly.
Another big part of his strategy includes making sure to eat at the right times.
“I usually have a brown bag full of my food for the day, vacuumed sealed and time-coded,” Porter said. “I have three main meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner — and two or three snacks throughout the day.”
He explained that he finds it extremely helpful to prepare these meals the day before so they’re ready to go the next day and encourages everyday athletes — especially those who are pressed for time — to do the same.
“Have it in a bag, ready to go and mark each item with what time of the day you need to eat it," Porter said. “Then it becomes a routine.”
As for other foods he incorporates in his meal plans, Porter mostly likes to keep it simple.
“I eat mostly tuna and tilapia — those meats work for me,” he said. “Other people have tried to get me to eat chicken or turkey, but I found it is too heavy for me. Light meals keep me in the right frame of mind. I’m not really comfortable eating red meat either. For snacks, I’ll often have yogurt or trail mix and occasionally Jello for energy.”
Additionally, Porter noted that his team is working on a hydration chart that will help to optimize his water intake.
“[It will] monitor my hydration and make sure I’m not overdoing it, but getting the right amount,” he said. “I have an alkaline machine at home that I use, or I drink distilled water. When I’m not eating, I tend to just drink water.”
Ultimately, though, Porter strongly feels that when it comes to optimizing your nutrition strategy, consistency is certainly key. Even before a big competition, he sticks to his go-to meals.
“I tend to keep the same routine because it works,” he said. “My routine of tuna and rice is my go-to meal. After a workout, I’ll drink a recovery shake of carbs and protein.”
Furthermore, depicting the portrait of a truly dedicated athlete, Porter said he really doesn’t like to splurge on indulgent meals.
“I really don’t splurge, even between fights, because it gets me in trouble,” he said. “No snacking or sneaking!”