Athlete’s meal plan: Who actually needs one?

by | Mar 25, 2019

Healthy and balanced eating is important for everyone. Finding the proper balance of calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients can impact weight loss, quality of life, and performance! At Noom we believe mindfulness and finding options that fit your lifestyle are the most sustainable and beneficial food choices to make! The opposite of mindful and lifestyle-based eating is a structured and regimented meal plan. One group that typically benefits from these meal plans is athletes. Athletes tend to have very specific nutritional needs given their sport, season, and training volume. Although most of us don’t need to follow a regimented athlete meal plan, is there anything we can learn from them? Let’s take a look!

Athlete’s Meal Plan Example

Breakfast

  • 3 eggs (omega-3, cage free, organic) with 1Tbs. butter/coconut oil
  • 3 oz Canadian bacon or other nitrate-free breakfast meat
  • 1 ¼ cup Berries (organic)

Post-Activity Meal

  • 10 oz Chicken, grilled, braised, or roasted
  • 1 ex-large Baked sweet potatoes with 2 Tbs. butter/ghee
  • 2 cups Broccoli with 2 Tbs butter/ghee and pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup Grass-fed, VAT-pasteurized, organic, whole chocolate milkn OR 1 ½ cups raw beets and carrots

Meal

  • 8 oz Grass-fed Steak, grilled, braised, or roasted
  • 3/4 cup Roasted root vegetables with 2 Tbs. butter/ghee
  • 2 cups Asparagus drizzled with 2 Tbs. olive oil and pinch of sea salt

Meal

  • 6 oz Wild Salmon, grilled, braised, or roasted
  • 1/2 cup Brown rice or starchy vegetable cooked with ½ Tbs. butter/ghee
  • 2 cups Green salad with tomatoes, onion, drizzled with 4 Tbs. balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 oz Fermented sauerkraut

Snacks

  • 2 oz. Pastured, organic beef or turkey jerky (150)
  • 1 medium Apple with 1 Tbs. natural almond butter (200)

Source: http://americannutritionassociation.org/toolsandresources/sample-meal-plan-professional-athletes

Stay Focused on Energy with an Athlete’s Meal Plan

When examining each meal it’s important to remember that they are created with specific goals in mind. At the core of any individualized athlete meal plan is a focus on specific energy needs. Taking into account BMR (basal metabolic rate), training/competition frequency, and seasonality of events, nutrition needs can vary greatly. This example meal plan is from the American Nutrition Association and was created for a 220 pound male athlete. If it looks like a lot of food, that’s because it is! For athletes, eating and recovery can become a full-time job. Athletes tend to approach food as fuel. Each food item has a pre-planned impact on the body and subsequent energy needs. Although this is beneficial and necessary for optimal performance, it also takes choice and mindfulness out of the equation.

Noom’s Approach to the Athlete’s Diet

Although most of us do not need a specific regimented meal plan, there are some key things we can take away from this style of eating. Balanced and goal-oriented nutrition can be beneficial not only for performance but also for weight loss! Comparing food choices against a goal can help create awareness and knowledge around how food can help (or hurt) reaching a specific weight loss or performance goal.

On the flip side of this, regimented meal plans can also cause burn out and take the mindfulness out of eating. Forcing food down day after day can become tiring both physically and mentally. It also takes the choice out of things and is the opposite of mindful eating. At Noom, we believe the most sustainable approach to eating is to find foods that you enjoy, that fit your lifestyle, and that also allow you to work towards your goals. Logging food, working with your personalized Goal Specialist, and listening to your body are all ways to find this mindfulness.

Author: Nicholas Gregory, MA