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Game Plan: Strategies for Fueling Up

Game Plan: Strategies for Fueling Up

Knowing what kind of nutrients to eat is one thing; incorporating them into an already hectic and over-scheduled athlete’s life is another. Athletes who receive nutrition education make better choices, resulting in better performance. This post will provide practical strategies, tips, and resources to help direct food choices that athletes should be making. It includes:

    • General macronutrient recommendations for endurance and strength-focused athletes compared to the recommendations for a healthy adult non-athlete
    • How-to tips for healthy eating
    • Sample 2000 and 3000 calorie menus

Target Macronutrient Ratios

In general, athletes require more calories from carbohydrates and fat because they are efficient energy sources. Strength athletes need slightly fewer carbs to make room for a higher intake of protein for increased lean body mass. 

Healthy Adult

Endurance Athletes

Strength Athletes

How-To Tips for Healthy Eating

Making healthy food choices doesn’t have to be difficult. Use these 9 tips to educate athletes so they can make informed food choices.

  1. Meet daily calories needs (most athletes fall short)
  2. Make sure macronutrient intake is appropriate
  3. Always have snacks on hand
  4. Stay hydrated
  5. Choose nutrient dense foods
  6. Aim to eat something every 3 to 4 hours to keep energy levels high
  7. Before workouts choose easily digestible carbohydrates
  8. After workouts choose a combination of carbohydrates and protein
  9. Remember that nutrition directly affects performance

Sample Meal Menus

Here are 2000 and 3000-calorie sample meal menus for in-season athletes. Specific calorie and macronutrient needs will vary but either of these plans can be tweaked to accommodate an athlete’s specific needs.

2000-Calorie Meal Plan

Breakfast

  • Breakfast Burrito: 3 whole eggs scrambled with ½ cup vegetables in a sprouted grain tortilla
  • 1 apple

Morning Snack

  • 1/3 cup trail mix (nuts, dried fruit, and whole grain cereal)

Lunch

  • Grilled Cheese with Turkey & Tomato
    • 2 slices whole grain bread
    • 2 oz sliced turkey breast
    • 2 slices cheese
    • Sliced tomato
    • Mustard (optional)

Pre Workout Snack

  • 1 medium banana

Post Workout Snack

  • 1 cup low-fat chocolate milk

Dinner

  • 4 oz grilled salmon
  • 1 ½ cups cooked whole grain pasta topped with ½ cup tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli

Evening Snack

  • Greek yogurt yogurt
  • ¼ cup berries

Totals for the Day:

Calories: 2092; Protein: 140 grams; Fat: 60 grams; Carbohydrate: 286 grams

3000-Calorie Meal Plan

Breakfast

  • 3 eggs scrambled with ½ cup vegetables
  • 2 slices sprouted grain toast
  • 1 ½ cups fruit salad

Morning Snack

  • ½ cup trail mix (nuts, dried fruit and whole grain cereal)
  • 1 orange

Lunch

  • Grilled Cheese with Turkey & Tomato
    • 2 slices whole grain bread
    • 2 oz sliced turkey breast
    • 2 slices cheese
    • Sliced tomato
    • Mustard (optional)
  • 1 cup lentil soup

Pre Workout Snack

  • 1 medium banana with peanut butter

Post Workout Snack

  • 1 cup low fat chocolate milk
  • 1 granola bar

Dinner

  • 4 oz grilled salmon
  • 1 ½ cups cooked whole grain pasta topped with ½ cup tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli

Evening Snack

  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • ¾ cup berries

Totals for the Day:

Calories: 3040; Protein: 175 grams; Fat: 75 grams; Carbohydrate: 464 grams

Learn more about nutrition and nutrition for athletes in the Fitness Nutrition Coach program, the Sports Nutrition Specialist program, or the Certified Personal Fitness Chef program.

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