BOXING AND WRESTLING – Your sport: Boxing and wrestling are highly physical, contact sports. Both are weight-category sports with athletes aiming for a high muscle mass for protection and strength when competing.

This nutrition advice sheet is aimed at those who train and compete at a recreational level. Elite athletes have different nutritional requirements and will require individualized advice.


Boxers range from those who enjoy the sport at a recreation level and train a few times a week, to those who may train up to three times a day at the elite fighter level. Training sessions involve running, sparring, technical skill work, conditioning and weight training.

Boxing fights/competitions consist of a predetermined number of 3-minute rounds which allow fist contact only. The overall winner is then selected at the discretion of the judges.


There are many types of wrestling with each different type having specific rules about what parts of the body can be used and what is considered a ‘winning’ move. In Olympic wrestling competitions, the main objective is to pin your opponent to the ground which is considered a ‘win’.

Matches range from two, 1-minute wrestles with a rest, to one 5-minute wrestle without a rest. Points are awarded in a match for performing techniques or moves that are considered to be ‘within the rules.

Any throw, trip or hold is permitted. If a wrestler is not able to pin his/her rival during the match, he/she must score at least three or more technical points in total to win that bout.

Wrestlers will train at different times and frequency depending on their ranking and level. Training is similar to boxing in that it involves a range of aerobic, strength and skill-based work.

In both sports there is a large gap between amateur and professional ranks when it comes to the volume of training and level of competition. At all levels however, participants may go through periods of inactivity or lower training loads before peaking for a certain event where they may also need to be focusing on ‘making weight.’


Boxers and wrestlers at all levels should make it their primary focus to consume a balanced diet. This means eating a variety of foods from all food groups, including:

• Fruits and vegetables – aim for a variety of color’s
• Breads and cereals, pasta, rice, low fat noodles, starchy vegetables (kumara, potato), bread, oats, breakfast cereals
• Dairy products – choose low fat varieties including milk, yoghurt and cheese
• Protein rich foods – including lean meat, poultry (e.g. chicken), fish seafood, eggs, tofu and pulses
• Healthy fats including vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and avocado

Eating well is essential to get the most out of training, promote recovery and help achieve optimal body composition. Many boxers/wrestlers who work full time and have to juggle training with other commitments may find that eating well consistently can be a challenge.

While the easy option may be to rely on supplements or convenience foods, the reality is that there are several performance and health benefits which can be gained by consuming a healthy balanced diet.

Ideally, planning and preparing food in advance can help ensure nutrition and hydration needs are met.


For boxing and wrestling, a carbohydrate-rich diet is ideal. This means including wholegrain bread and breakfast cereals, pasta, rice, low fat noodles, potato or kumara at main meals. For high training days, additional carbohydrate rich snacks may be helpful, including muesli/cereal bars, liquid breakfast drinks, smoothies, creamed rice, fresh fruit and fruit bread.

Eating carbohydrate in the hours before training and as soon as possible after training can be helpful to optimize energy levels and promote recovery. *

Low carbohydrate diets are not suitable for wrestlers or boxers and could impact on performance. The exact amount of carbohydrate you will need to be calculated based on your training and weight goals – see a Sports Dietitian or Accredited Sports Nutritionist for further guidance.


Protein is essential for good health and sporting performance, and should always be included in main meals and post training snacks. Examples include lean meat, chicken, fish/seafood, tofu, pulses (e.g. baked beans, chickpeas and lentils), eggs, nuts and low-fat dairy products. It is also important to include some protein after training to promote recovery and muscle repair, this is particularly important in boxing and wrestling given the high volumes of strength training.**

Protein-based supplements (powders / bars) may be included in the diet for convenience, if necessary. However, these can be expensive, and protein rich foods are perfectly adequate.


Having some fat each day is essential for good health. Try to include small amounts of good quality healthy fats, such as vegetable oils (e.g. canola and olive), nuts, seeds, oily fish and avocado should be included in the diet.

It is also important to minimize the amount of unhealthy fat by choosing lean cuts of meat and limiting high fat convenience foods and takeaways.


Fruit and vegetables are a key part of a boxers and wrestler’s diet. It is ideal to include a variety of vegetables at each main meals and fruit with meals or as a snack.

Fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables are excellent choices.

Canned or dried options can also be enjoyed adding variety. Having plenty of fruits and vegetables will help to ensure that your body’s nutrient and antioxidant requirements are fulfilled.

These foods are convenient, tasty and, if purchased in season, they are affordable. You can also try to grow your own!


Where possible it can be helpful to try and have your main meal as soon as possible after you are finishing a training session, this is particularly important if you train more than once each day. If having a full meal is impractical, having a snack becomes important to start the recovery process.

Dairy based snacks such as creamed rice, low fat yoghurt or MILO added to low fat milk, fruit or other snacks such as sandwiches or muesli/cereal bars are suitable.

In some cases, having a sports drink with training can be useful; however, this depends on the duration and intensity of your trainings as well as your individual’s training/weight goals.




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