Anthony Joshua has experienced a meteoric rise from amateur boxer to global superstar in just a matter of years. During the past 6 years, the man nicknamed “AJ” has won Olympic gold at London 2012, turned professional, and become the IBF, WBA, and WBO world heavyweight champion.
The path to pursuing such glory requires hard work, dedication, and discipline. Part of that regime includes a strict diet that helps the body to perform to its maximum potential. So what exactly does a sporting winner like Joshua have in his diet, and how does it compare to other sports stars?
What Fuels a World Heavyweight Champion? The researchers at Casino.org reveal Anthony Joshua’s diet
Taking a look at the daily calorie intake of a professional heavyweight boxer such as Joshua immediately hits us with the scale of the diet we are dealing with here. The Watford-born sporting icon aims to take on 4,000 to 5,000 calories every day. To put that into context, eating a full tub of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream is the equivalent of eating 970 calories.
Chief Clinical Dietician at the Nutrition and Metabolic Health Institute, Allison Childress, explains, “Based on his height, weight, age and estimated activity level, Anthony Joshua needs about 4,000 calories a day, with 227g of protein, 600g of carbohydrates and 90g of fat.”
She adds, “It seems as though he has a good handle on nutrition and fuels properly. He focuses on whole single ingredient foods, which tend to have the highest micronutrient values as well.”
To begin the day, Joshua will eat a mammoth breakfast that includes fresh fruit, oats, yoghurt, milk, five eggs, and vegetables. He may throw in some smoked salmon or a toasted bagel on the odd day if he feels like varying his diet.
A morning snack will then be enjoyed as a stop gap between breakfast and lunch. This will consist of an electrolyte drink, recovery protein shake, and either a sandwich, salad box, or pasta pot. At this point most of us would be done for the day.
Lunchtime brings a whole new horizon of options. Two chicken breasts, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and yoghurt with honey on top are the staple of the diet. On the odd occasion, Joshua might treat himself to meringues.
Things calm down until dinner when the focus is once again on protein. A fillet steak with pasta, wholegrain rice, or quinoa is on order, with some vegetables also thrown in for good measure. A fruit mousse or yoghurt is also eaten on sporadic days during the week.
A bedtime snack is then taken. When many of us choose either a bowl of cereal or a hot chocolate to settle down before we sleep, Joshua is drinking a slow-release protein shake and eating protein bars crammed with fruit and nuts.
In Comparison to Other Sports
Undoubtedly, not many other sports will demand the participants to take so many healthy calories on board. Boxing is one of the most physically-demanding sports out there. So, how does Joshua’s diet compare to those sporting heroes in other sports?
Take a horse jockey for example. Someone like Frankie Dettori, Ruby Walsh, or Hayley Turner will only aim to consume 750 to 1,000 calories per day. An apple and porridge for breakfast, low fat yoghurt for morning snack, a wholegrain roll with tuna for lunch, raisin toast for afternoon snack, and chicken, rice, and vegetables for dinner would be enough to keep them going.
The calorie intake increases for a more physically exerting profession such as a ballerina. 1,600 to 2,200 calories is the recommended intake for a member of the Royal Ballet. Once again, a diet not too dissimilar to that of a horse jockey would be expected.
Things crank up a notch for an F1 driver. Yes, they do only sit in their cars but the physical fitness required to drive these heavy vehicles around the track in testing conditions is extremely demanding. A driver such as Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel would look to take on board roughly 2,800 calories a day. This would be spread out over breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and bedtime snack.
It would only be slightly more intense for a professional footballer. Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi will be targeting a consumption of up to 4,000 calories each day. Fresh fruit, steak, chicken, pasta, rice, tuna, and vegetables form the spine of the diet. It’s not too far off Joshua’s plan but just less volume.
Joshua’s diet might seem a bit excessive to us average members of the public but it pales in comparison to the diet endured by strongest man participants. Eddie Hall consumes 10,000 to 12,000 calories per day over eight different meal times.
The Cost of Perfection
Everybody wants to eat healthier these days but one of the main reasons for the average person not eating healthier is that healthy food costs more. How does that affect these sports people and their rigid diet plans?
Joshua is looking at a cost of £41 per day for his impressive diet. That works out at approximately £280 each week, £1,177 per month, and £14,576 every year. To get some perspective on that figure, the legal minimum working salary for a UK person aged 25 years or older is £16,286.
It’s not so painful on the pocket for other sporting professions with an F1 driver’s diet costing £6,336 per year, a professional footballer at £5,563 each year, a ballerina at £4,161 every year, and a jockey at £3,193 annually. The average spend of a family of four in the UK on a weekly food shop is £80 to £100, working out at £4,160 to £5,200 every year. That equates to £1,040 to £1,300 per person.
Joshua’s Weight History
It’s interesting to see how Joshua’s weight has fluctuated throughout his professional career. During his early days against “easier” opponents, Joshua would be training for shorter fights with three rounds being the maximum his team would expect him to fight. This meant the focus was more on anaerobic fitness and an aim to finish opponents quickly.
If you look at his weight in his first fight against the Italian boxer Emanuele Leo on 5 October 2013, Joshua only weighed 230 lbs. He remained at the 230-240 lbs mark for his first 10 professional bouts.
It wasn’t until he faced US fighter Jason Gavern on 4 April 2015 that Joshua began to increase his weight to 245 lbs. This then moved up to 248 lbs for his next fight with Brazilian Raphael Zumbano Love on 9 May 2015.
Joshua’s team then took him up to 250 lbs for his epic bout against Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko on 29 April 2017 when the focus was on making him more physical against a brutally aggressive
opponent. This was once again the aim against his next opponent, French boxer Carlos Takam, on 28 October 2017 when Joshua weighed in at his heaviest weight of 254 lbs.
Intriguingly, Joshua then dropped his weight to 242 lbs for his title fight with Joseph Parker on 31 March 2018. A need to make Joshua lighter and quicker on his feet against a more physically dominant opponent saw him lose weight and it was successful.
What’s Next for Joshua?
Joshua will go up against Russian fighter Alexander Povetkin this Saturday at Wembley Stadium. There was speculation he would be fighting WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder or former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
The diet and fitness regime that Joshua and his team choose over the coming months will not only depend on the result of his fight with Povetkin but who he faces next. It looks likely to be a unification bout with Wilder if Joshua passes this latest test. Nothing is certain in boxing but Joshua is making sure that he is prepared in the best way possible through optimum diet and training.