Did you know that you wanted to start boxing after watch classics like Rocky? We all remember the scene where Rocky Balboa gets out of bed, shuffles to the refrigerator, cracks about a half of eggs into a glass, and drinks them down in one gulp.

Decades after the movie, Stallone said that his “boxing diet” (to get in shape for the movies) consisted of oatmeal cookies made with brown rice, a couple of scoops of tuna, and up to two dozen cups of coffee each day. Not only does Stallone’s diet sound less than palatable, in retrospect, Stallone knows that it was hazardous to his health.

If you’re a young boxer, just starting out, you’re probably looking for all the secrets and shortcuts to becoming a better boxer in a short amount of time. One way to be a better boxer, and to be one for longer than a few years, is to eat a well-balanced diet. Here are some essential nutritional tips to consider:

Don’t Worry About Counting Calories

If you follow the words of wisdom from older and experienced boxers, they might tell you that calorie restriction is key to fighting in a lower weight category.

We all know that metabolism slows down as you age, so unless you’re well over 30, you should skip counting calories and focus on protein, carbs, and healthy fats. Good nutrition is essential to muscle growth in younger boxers

Learn How To Eat Well Before You Use Supplements

Some supplements can be beneficial, but they are often a shortcut with temporary results. As you become more experienced as a boxer, taking a supplement may have some advantages but avoid taking any until you’ve mastered a well-balanced diet.

Good food is natural and should give you all the nutrition and energy you need; it should always be your first choice.

Eat Natural, Organic, and Fresh Whenever Possible

Never been to your local Farmer’s Market or rarely shop in the produce aisle? Now is the time to start. Canned, frozen, and pre-packaged foods are convenient, but they lack some of the nutrients you need. Despite what you might think, fresh and organic foods are actually less expensive (and more delicious) than some of those so-called “healthy” ready-made meals that you can pop in the microwave.

Learn Good Habits and Stick To Them

It’s never too late to start learning how to eat better. Some eating habits can be hard to break, so be patient with yourself and start making small changes if you need to make the transition easier.

Don’t worry about fad diets or what other boxers eat. Focus on a well-balanced diet that includes the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals. Eat protein but try to keep sugar to a minimal.

Having a hard time knowing what to eat, how to cook, or what to buy at the grocery store? Take a cooking class or buy a cookbook. Talk to your doctor, a certified nutritionist, or even your trainer for more helpful tips.