Sports Nutrition: Meal Planning
Create a Strong Plate – Creating a strong plate is essential to help fuel an athlete for optimal performance. This means at each meal I recommend a balance of proteins, complex carbohydrates, fruits/veggies and healthy fats. By providing adequate macronutrients it ensures the athlete has the proper energy to fuel as well as recover from daily activities. A balanced plate also helps to prevent nutritional deficiencies by providing the individual with a variety of nutrients helping them to meet increased needs. It is important to note that this cannot be accomplished in one to two or sometimes even in just three meals a day.
Energy Balance – Due to higher levels of energy expenditure and increased amounts of lean body mass (muscle), athletes have higher caloric needs than their more sedentary counterparts. I recommend 3 meals and up 1-3 snacks daily to help meet these increased needs. This usually results in a meal or snacks every 3-5 hours. In a culture where we are often running between work, school, games, practice, rehearsals…time is of the essence, therefore this may sound like an intimidating number of meals/snacks to account for. The good news it is possible to fuel on the go and eat well without spending hours at the food store every week.
Stocking the Pantry and Refrigerator – I like to think about keeping the “essentials” in the pantry and refrigerator so that a quick and balanced meal can always be prepared. A pre-cooked rotisserie chicken is also a great shortcut and the leftovers can be used to make a soup or chicken salad.
Here are a few of my favorite staple items:
Quick Cooking Brown Rice (Trader Joes organic pre-cooked/frozen)
Barilla Plus Pasta
Frozen Ground Turkey Meat
Frozen Veggies (spinach, broccoli, cauliflower etc.)
Bag of salad greens
Whole Grain Bread
Canned Chick Peas or other beans (quick protein!)
Canned bean soup or chili
Snacks on the go – When snacking is done right, it helps to stabilize blood sugar and prevent overeating at our next meal. The key to balanced snacking is choosing foods from at least two different foods groups (ex. protein and carbohydrates). Below are a few of my favorites:
Bowl of cereal with milk
Piece of fruit with yogurt or cottage cheese
½ sandwich on whole wheat bread
Individual applesauce with ~1/4 cup of mixed nuts
Bars: Cliff, KIND, Kashi (just a few of my favorites!)
Packet of oatmeal made with milk
Pretzels with hummus
Banana/apple with peanut butter
Hardboiled egg and toast
Yogurt with ¼ cup granola
1-2 graham cracker sheets with peanut butter
Cheese with crackers or pretzels
Want to learn more? Call 617-355-3501 to set up a nutrition consultation.