Weekly Meal Plan For Athletes


Just like the title says this sample post is on Weekly Meal Plan For Athletes. If you’re looking to build muscle, lose fat and just generally feel a whole lot better in your body, the only way to get there and the most rewarding route is through a balanced diet. Athletes need a lot of protein! Along with the protein you need a good source of carbs and fats. It’s really important to get all three food groups to keep your body fueled and muscles from feeling sore.

Daily Meal Plans for Athletes

Athletic girl focused on fitness training with ropes at gym

Healthy meals are necessary for optimal fueling during physical activities.

If you’re an athlete, you already know how crucial it is to feel your best in order to practice and perform at your best. Your muscles, connective tissue, and bones are all constructed from the things you eat, which is how you actually become who you are.

In addition to providing you with the energy you need to practice and compete, food’s nutrients also aid in your ability to recover from workouts, develop and repair muscle, and replenish your body’s depleted glycogen stores.

When you’re exercising, meals should do more than just give you the calories you need to stay energized. You must also consider the nutritional quality of the fuel you give your body. To eat healthfully, maximize your performance, and improve your general well-being, you need knowledge and strategy.

Nutrient Basics

The most crucial thing to keep in mind while developing a diet plan is that not every person or athlete should follow the same diet. On a variety of different diet programs with various macronutrient ratios, athletes can achieve great success.

The Right Carbohydrates

The majority of diets for endurance athletes include a strong emphasis on carbs, which are the body’s main source of energy. An expert panel assessment by Nutrition Today in 2018 noted that despite recent dietary trends away from them, carbohydrates are still essential as an energy source for high-intensity performance.

Between 45 and 65 percent of your calories should come from carbohydrates, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2015-2020. The higher end of this spectrum should be the goal for athletes.

For instance, rice, potatoes, and pasta are important components of a diet plan for athletes. Choose high-quality carbohydrates on a regular basis to ensure that you receive crucial nutrition and fiber in addition to energy. Vegetables and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa are healthy carbohydrate choices for an athlete’s meal plan.

Protein Pointers

In an athlete’s meal plan, macronutrients other than carbohydrates are also significant. Athletes’ requirements for protein and fat are larger than previously believed.

Protein is essential for building and repairing the muscle fibers that are damaged during exercise. Lean meats, poultry, fish, dairy, soy, and nuts are examples of protein-rich diets.

A comprehensive athlete diet plan must include 0.55 to 0.75 grams of protein daily per pound of body weight (or 1.2 to 1.6 grams per kilogram), according to the expert panel in the Nutrition Today report.

Accordingly, you should aim for 83 to 113 grams of protein per day if you weigh 150 pounds. Spread out your daily protein intake, focusing on a substantial dose of 20 to 30 grams after exercise to assist muscle growth and repair.

2018 research was published in the journal Nutrients and supports the advice to consume 30 grams of protein after exercise.

Five whole eggs, 2.5 cups of black beans, 1.5 cups of tofu, 4.5 ounces of beef, chicken, fish, or shellfish are also acceptable substitutes.

Fats Are Necessary Too

Monounsaturated fats in particular are a crucial source of energy. They promote the growth of brain cells, wholesome skin and hair, and nutrient absorption. Be cautious while eating fat, though, as too much of it can make you feel lethargic, especially before a practice or a game. Fat slows down digestion. Pick avocado, almonds, olive oil, or fatty fish when eating fats.

Breakfast Foods for Athletes

Doughnuts, white bagels, and oily hash browns are typically not found on a good diet plan for an athlete. Your personal preferences, the time of day you want to exercise, and the number of calories you require each day will all influence what you eat for breakfast.

Whole grains, such as whole-wheat breads, pancakes, or oats, eggs, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, such as milk or yogurt, fruit, and key vitamins and antioxidants are typically included in general guidelines.

Even so, breakfast doesn’t always have to include typical “breakfast” fare. Good options include pasta with grilled chicken and roast veggies, leftover salmon and a sweet potato, and a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread.

Lunch Foods for Athletes

Don’t skip lunch, even if it’s your time for training. Eat a small portion before you work out and the rest afterward to ensure you get the calories and nutrients you need.

Lunch can be a combination of snack-like foods like nuts, seeds, hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit, cut-up veggies, and hummus, or it can appear more traditional with sandwiches, salads, and soup.

Refrain from eating fast food burgers, hot dogs, and fries. Regardless of how many calories you burnt earlier in the day, these foods include too much salt and saturated fat to sustain optimum physical performance. Additionally, a fatty supper can hinder performance if you intend to exercise after lunch and before dinner.

Dinner Foods for Athletes

4 to 5 ounces of lean protein, a cup or two of green leafy vegetables, and high-quality carbohydrates like white or sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, or pasta make up a healthy, well-balanced dinner. Dinner is an excellent time to fill up, but avoid overindulging because it can prevent you from falling asleep.

Pre-Workout, Post-Workout and General Snacks

Between meals, snacks keep you full. They can also be quite helpful before and/or after exercise. Have a little snack 30 to 60 minutes before working out if you haven’t eaten in several hours and are going to practice. This might be as easy as a banana, energy bar, or piece of toast with a dab of nut butter.

The greatest snacks for athletes are high-quality items that blend protein and carbohydrates between meals. Consider foods like yogurt and fresh fruit, peanut butter and jelly on whole-wheat toast, or a protein-packed smoothie with fruit, milk, and yogurt.

Meal Plans

Your meal plans should be organized differently depending on how often you exercise, whether you practice or work out more than once per day, your size, and your preferences. There are numerous ways to eat healthily and acquire the nutrients you require.

Your size, metabolism, and the time of year you are exercising will all influence how much food you need. If it is game time or a busy competition season, you may require more food than you would in the off-season.

Early Morning Workout

You might not have time to eat a full meal before exercising if you practice before the sun rises. However, you need to eat something before going to practice because you haven’t in a while. A possible menu for a day of early-morning exercise includes:

  • Pre-workout: Banana and a handful of plain almonds
  • Post-workout/breakfast: Oatmeal, cottage cheese and blueberries
  • Snack: Hard-boiled egg and whole-wheat crackers
  • Lunch: Whole-grain roll, apple and salad of romaine, black beans, roast chicken, veggies, avocado and olive oil-based dressing
  • Snack: Plain yogurt mixed with sliced peaches
  • Dinner: Seared salmon, brown rice and steamed broccoli

Lunchtime Practice

You might be tempted to forgo lunch entirely if you have a noon practice. Breakfast should be a decent 500–700 calories, but you should avoid greasy fried items to avoid ruining your workout in a few hours. You should divide your lunch in half or thirds, with the remaining portion being consumed as a post-workout meal. For instance:

  • Breakfast: Whole-grain pancakes, nut butter and sliced banana
  • Lunch before the workout: Half of a roast beef sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes
  • Lunch after workout: Other half of the sandwich, clear soup (such as vegetable or chicken noodle), fruit salad and glass of milk
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken, baked potato and green beans with dried fruit (raisins, dried mango, dried cherries) for dessert

Late Afternoon Practice or Game

It matters what you eat the day before a practice or event. A complete meal needs to be digested two to three hours before an athletic event, while little snacks of 150 to 300 calories can be had an hour before the start of the game. At meals, eat a lot but don’t overindulge. When practice or a game is about to start, you might load up more in the morning and lessen your load:

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, whole-wheat tortilla, chopped vegetables, salsa, sliced avocado and a whole orange
  • Snack: Banana and a small granola bar
  • Lunch: Pasta with grilled chicken and zucchini
  • Pre-workout/game: Energy bar or whole-grain crackers and a few slices of deli turkey
  • Dinner: Quinoa, shrimp, steamed vegetables and yogurt or small amount of ice cream for dessert

Vegetarian and Vegan Athletes

Vegan athletes, who consume no animal products at all, are particularly at danger for nutritional inadequacies if their diets aren’t meticulously planned. According to studies described in a 2017 edition of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, they may be deficient in nutrients like vitamin B12, iron, zinc, calcium, iodine, and vitamin D as well as the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation.

A possible vegan nutrition plan for a day would entail:

  • Breakfast: Smoothie made with pea or hemp protein, fruit and almond milk
  • Lunch: Large vegetable salad with chick peas, nut-based dressing and avocado
  • Snacks: Pita bread with nut butter and fresh fruit
  • Dinner: Stir-fried vegetables with tofu and brown rice

The Role of Supplements

Athletes, especially during the competitive season, can benefit from a little dietary support in the form of supplements.


Between monitoring macronutrients and hydration levels, there is a lot to consider when it comes to optimizing athletic performance with nutrition. Read on to get the best tips for how to create meal plans for athletes.

As a nutrition professional, it’s important to create realistic (and effective) meal plans that athletes can adhere to while enhancing sports performance. Meal plans are important, as they provide enormous benefits for your clients, and help them feel supported and guided to make the right decisions for their health goals.

A great meal plan is almost like training wheels for clients; it teaches them how to put great tasting healthy meals together and can show them correct portion sizes or how to space out meals. This is especially important when creating meal plans for athletes, as nutrient timing is crucial for optimized performance.

However, creating client meal plans can be an overwhelming and daunting task that many dietitians tend to shy away from. Meal plans are tedious and can take hours to prepare, and clients might not follow through because the foods may not fit in with their lifestyle or dietary preferences. This leaves both the dietitian and client feeling frustrated.

So, how can you create efficient and effective meal plans for athletes that will support them in their performance goals? Before diving into how you can create a meal plan for athletes, let’s first discuss why macronutrients are important, and why these should be evaluated before doing any meal planning.

How to create meal plans your athletes will want to follow

When it comes to maximizing athletic performance with nutrition, there are many factors to take into account, including macronutrient tracking and hydration levels. For the finest advice on how to make meal plans for athletes, continue reading.

For athletes to improve their athletic performance, realistic (and efficient) meal plans must be developed by nutrition professionals.

Meal plans are crucial since they offer your clients a host of advantages and give them the support and direction they need to make the best choices for their health-related objectives.

A great meal plan is like to a set of training wheels for customers; it teaches them how to put together delicious, healthy meals and can demonstrate the proper serving sizes or meal spacing.

This is particularly significant when developing meal plans for athletes because timing of nutrients is essential for optimum performance.

However, developing meal plans for clients may be a difficult and demanding undertaking, therefore many dietitians try to avoid it. Meal plans are time-consuming and might take hours to prepare, and customers may not stick to them since the meals may not suit their dietary requirements or way of life. Both the dietitian and the customer are frustrated as a result.

How therefore can you design successful meal plans for athletes that will help them achieve their performance objectives?

Let’s first go through why macronutrients are crucial and why these should be assessed prior to performing any meal planning, then we’ll go into how to make a meal plan for athletes.

Energy requirements

In order to maintain weight and be well nourished, the average non-athlete needs roughly 2,000 calories per day, but someone who is frequently active and needs more energy may need anything from 2,200 to 3,000 calories per day (depending on whether they are male or female)

A well-balanced nutritional plan for athletes should include a variety of carbohydrates, lipids, and protein in addition to meeting their caloric demands.

As a nutrition expert, it is your responsibility to keep an eye on your client’s progress, pay attention to any issues, and make any required dietary changes because every athlete has distinct needs.

Macronutrient breakdown in meal plans for athletes

The quantity of each macronutrient required can vary depending on your client’s needs and performance objectives, but as always, be sure to keep an eye on how your client is feeling and alter their macros as needed.

In the case of female runners, for instance, the suggested macronutrient breakdown is protein (1.4-1.6 g/kg/day), carbs (8 g/kg/day), and fats (0.5-1.5 g/kg/day). However, if your client isn’t performing well with this nutrient breakdown, you can make changes to improve performance [12, 13].

Here are some general recommendations for carbohydrates, protein, and fat, along with some foods that are recommended for each.


For athletes, carbohydrates are crucial, therefore it’s up to you as a dietitian to make sure your clients are getting enough of this macronutrient. Carbohydrate intake varies depending on the activity, from 5 to 7 g/kg/day for general training needs to 7 to 10 g/kg/day for endurance athletes’ higher needs.

Unfortunately, many athletes have reduced their carbohydrate intake in order to rely more heavily on fats for energy as a result of the popularity of low-carb diets (like the keto diet). Due to the limited glucose supply and increasing oxygen demands, this method may actually reduce performance. A low-carb diet simply results in an athlete having less glucose available to fuel training sessions than a rival who consumes carbohydrates, and studies to date suggests that this reduces performance, even if carbohydrate is briefly supplied prior to exercise.

Additionally, studies have shown that athletes who follow low-carb diets (like keto) perform 4–15% worse than those who follow high-carb diets.

Additionally, low-carb athletes can become deficient in minerals (including fiber, calcium, magnesium, selenium, vitamin C, and B vitamins), which may have an effect on performance. Low-carb athletes can report early onset tiredness during short-duration exercises.

Here are some choices for good carbohydrate sources that are also rich in vitamins and minerals if you’re looking for some for your athlete client:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables (sweet/white potatoes, squash, broccoli, leafy greens)
  • Whole-grain bread or crackers
  • High-fiber cereals
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice


Depending on training needs, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein/kg/d for athletes, or 2x the RDA [10, 17]. Some high-protein foods include [9]:

  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Lean red meats
  • Poultry
  • Fish


While there is no RDA for this macronutrient, it is recommended that 30% of an athlete’s daily caloric intake come from healthy fats [18]. Some examples include [9]:

  • Avocados
  • Nut butter
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olive or canola oil
  • Flax seeds

Hydration and electrolyte needs

It’s crucial that hydration is a part of an athlete’s nutrition strategy because it can make or break their performance. Sweating causes athletes to lose 6–10% of their body weight in water, and dehydration can cause weariness, difficulty exercising, and problems controlling body temperature.

Sports drinks are stocked with carbohydrates and electrolytes (which are lost in perspiration) and will act in tandem to enhance athletic performance and aid in recovery after exercise. Athletes should be drinking both water and sports drinks to avoid this. It is advised that athletes drink at least two cups of fluid before exercising, and then 4 to 6 ounces every 15 minutes while exercising, depending on their response.

5 tips for creating meal plans for athletes

Now that we have covered macronutrients and hydration needs, let’s discuss how you can use this information to create meal plans for athletes that support their performance goals.

1. Variety is key

While a meal plan for an athlete must include carbohydrates, protein, and fat, it’s also critical to include a variety of foods that offer a wide range of nutrients. For instance, increasing the amount of fruit and vegetable consumption to five servings daily will assist athletes’ training and recovery times as well as their immune systems. Additionally, you want to persuade your athletes to consume fewer refined grains and sugars in favor of whole-grain alternatives so they may take advantage of the high fiber content.

2. Look at the bigger picture

Sports nutrition is influenced by factors including age, type of sport, and personal objectives, all of which should be carefully considered when making a meal plan. For instance, athletes who lift a lot of weight or play soccer may need to consume more carbohydrates . Instead of only offering a meal plan based on nutritional calculations, you should examine your customer as a complete. To guarantee that your nutrition care plan helps your client achieve their athletic goals, each meal plan should be customized for each individual athlete and updated on a frequent basis.

3. On game day, stick to what is familiar

Have your clients maintain their regular diets rather than attempting new ones on game day. Athletes will be able to perform at their best because they won’t suffer any unfavorable bodily repercussions (like an upset stomach). Encourage your clients to bring a selection of snacks and beverages if they are going to an away game so they won’t have to rely just on the venue’s food options.

4. Have a post-workout plan

It’s critical to include post-workout nutrition in your client’s meal plan because it’s essential for recuperation. Athletes are advised to eat 15–30 g of high-quality protein and 15–90 g of carbohydrates after an exercise to hasten recuperation, top off fuel reserves, and encourage muscle synthesis. As always, don’t forget to drink plenty of water as part of this strategy!

5. Find what works for them

To best optimize an athlete’s diet, pay attention to how they feel, what’s working and what isn’t, and whether they have any additional food preferences. After all, a meal plan should always change to accommodate dietary requirements rather than being static. You can help your customers feel and perform their best by collaborating with them to optimize their diet.


It can be difficult to put together a meal plan for an athlete, but with the correct resources, you can provide a nutritional support plan to help your clients improve their athletic performance. You should thoroughly evaluate your clients’ needs, ambitions, and age before developing any meal plans for athletes in order to better comprehend their requirements. While athletes’ demands for macronutrients and hydration are crucial, it’s crucial to customize them to each athlete and collaborate with them to ensure the best nutrition support.

One-Week Meal Plans for Athletes

One-Week Meal Plans for Athletes

You may assure that you’ll have the best possible fuel for training and athletic competition by scheduling your meals one week in advance. You’ll be less prone to skip meals or make bad decisions that could hinder your performance. There is no one-size-fits-all food plan because athletes have a variety of body types, genders, ages, and dietary requirements. However, the majority of athletes do need more calories and a higher concentration of several nutrients than the normal, sedentary person.

Nutrition Needs

Your daily caloric intake should be between 50 and 70 percent from carbohydrates. If your sport requires endurance, like long-distance running or soccer, aim for the higher end during the weeks going up to competition. Healthy, unsaturated fats like those found in nuts and avocados should make up another 15% of your daily calorie intake. Athletes are advised by the International Society of Sports Nutrition to ingest 0.64 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. Strength athletes should strive for the higher end of this spectrum, while endurance athletes should go for the lower.

Portions and Structure

When preparing for a competition, try to ingest the same number of calories each day as you expend. Plan your weight-gain or weight-loss objectives for the off-season. Athletes typically require between 2,000 and 8,000 calories per day, depending on their size, age, and level of training. Divide your daily caloric intake between at least three meals, as well as pre- and post-workout snacks. Another crucial component of any weekly food plan for athletes is enough hydration; famous endurance coach Chris Carmichael advises that you consume a full gallon of liquids each day.

Breakfast Choices

Make the morning meal simple on days when you have training, work, or family commitments. Oatmeal with eggs, a whole-grain bagel with peanut butter and a banana, or a smoothie with fresh fruit, yogurt, and flaxseed meal are some options. Prepare whole-wheat pancakes with fresh fruit, a light drizzle of honey, and a side of lean turkey sausage on the weekends.

Training Meals and Snacks

Carbohydrate-focused pre-workout snacks should include low-sugar energy bars, fruit and yogurt, or banana and nut butter sandwiches. Make a fruit shake with whey protein to aid in growth and recuperation after your daily workout. You can meet your daily calorie goal and your additional needs for B vitamins, vitamin C and D, and iron by snacking in between meals. Cottage cheese, peanuts and raisins, sliced roast beef on crackers, veggies with bean dip, and fortified cereal with milk are also healthy options.

Lunches and Dinner

Lunchtime alternatives that are simple to prepare include lentil soup, whole-wheat sandwiches with vegetables and lean meat, and homemade vegetarian pizza on a whole-wheat crust. Dinner ideas include whole-grain pasta with turkey meatballs and red sauce or whole-wheat tortillas with lean grilled steak, avocado, and vegetables. To ensure you consume plenty of antioxidant-rich vegetables, which may aid in healing and a strong immune system, include a sizable salad with an oil-based dressing with each meal.

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