Protein gets all the “airtime” (because there’s more money in it!), and although it is important to an extent, sorting out your carbohydrate consumption will dramatic improve your performance and body composition. Carbohydrate is the body’s primary energy source, but any surplus calories will be stored as fat. Also, when insulin is dumped into your bloodstream, it causes a rapid fall in blood-sugar, down past your resting level – this energy crash causes cravings for more high GI foods (to rapidly bring blood-sugar back up again). The timing of your meals will also drastically effect your blood-sugar and energy levels throughout the day. You should familiarise yourself with the GI values of different foods (subscribe to my free email list and download this article complete with GI value tables) and understand that consuming some protein with every meal or snack will help slow the absorption of even high GI foods.
It’s especially important to consider the carbs in pre-fight meals, to avoid an energy crash in the ring.
In my next post I explain how to fuel for long training sessions, optimise refuelling for multiple training sessions in one day, and then follow up with a look at the role of carbohydrates when cutting weight for a fight.
Don Heatrick, owner of Heatrick Strength & Conditioning, is a strength and conditioning coach, Muay Thai coach and former pro Thai boxer from the UK.
With over 25-years experience in combat sports and athletic conditioning, he’s passionate about all things leading to improved Muay Thai performance.
Don Heatrick is owner of Heatrick Strength & Conditioning, is a strength and conditioning coach, Muay Thai coach and former pro Thai boxer from the UK. All carbohydrate foods have a glycemic index (or GI value) which indicates how fast the sugars enter your bloodstream. If you give in to the high GI cravings, this blood-sugar “see-sawing” continues, not only topping up fat reserves but also peaking and crashing your energy levels.
Eat every 3-4 hours to keep things stable — going too long between meals causes blood-sugar to drop, only to spike when you eventually eat.


High GI foods do have a place in an athletes diet, but ideally only after a good training session, to re-stock your glycogen (muscle carbohydrate) stores.
Despite what you may have heard, necking a RedBull before a fight really isn’t the best strategy.
If you have a low level of HDL “Happy Cholesterol” or high density lipoprotein and a high level of LDL, low density lipoprotein then you are at a high risk for heart attack. High blood pressure mixed with other health conditions speeds up the process of arterial damage. A history of heart disease in your family (direct relatives) increases your risk of heart attack. If you are overweight, you most likely have high cholesterol and are at higher risk for diabetes and high blood pressure. Exercise can help keep your weight in a healthy range, keep the heart pumping effectively, lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Women who suffer from preeclampsia in pregnancy are at a higher risk for heart disease over the course of their lifetime. Increased stress levels increases inflammation in the body and this includes inside the blood vessels. Methamphetamine and cocaine can stress the heart and cause coronary spasms and lead to heart attacks, even in younger people.
High GI foods cause you blood-sugar levels to sky-rocket, forcing the release of insulin to bring it back down again. Eating low and medium GI food stabilises your blood sugar and energy levels, and your body will freely burn body-fat in the absence of extreme insulin release. So eat three main meals – breakfast, lunch and tea – and have a small snack between them too.


The majority of the time, carbohydrates should be low to medium GI and account for about 55% of you daily calories. Elevated blood sugar over time damages blood vessels and arteries and can lead to a heart attack if left untreated or poorly controlled. Disorders like lupus and arthritis increase inflammation in the body and the immune system can attack delicate organs like, the heart. Insulin also causes surplus calories you’ve eaten to be stored as fat, or at least hold onto your stored body fat reserves rather than burning them for fuel. Just distribute your daily calories evenly though out the day rather than starving all day and then pigging out in the evening. The meal should also be a tried and tested one that doesn’t upset your stomach – fight day is no time to experiment (try meals out before training and monitor how you feel).
It is advised people who are overweight try to lose at least 10 percent of their body weight. My personal favourite pre-fight meal is whole-wheat pasta with tuna, sweetcorn an a little salad cream.
It fuels you up nicely, is easily stored in a plastic container, and above all is within my limited cooking capability.



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