If you are a teenage athlete, you know how challenging it can be to balance your busy schedule with your nutrition needs. Having ideas for a meal plan for teenage athletes can help you maintain a consistent and nutritious diet.
However, eating well is not only important for your health and growth, but also for your energy levels and performance. That’s why having a meal plan for teenage athletes can help you stay on track with your goals and fuel your body with the right foods.
In this comprehensive guide, we will show you a 7-day meal plan for teenage athletes that is tailored to your unique needs and preferences.
Do you want to perform at your best in school, sports and life? Read on for more.
Teenage challenge: on the go and busy schedules
As a teenage athlete, you may find it hard to fit in regular meals and snacks into your busy day.
You may have to wake up early, rush to school, train after school and then want to hang out with your friends or do homework. Sometimes, you may skip meals or grab whatever is available, which may not be the best option for your health and performance.
However, having a meal plan for teenage athletes and sticking to it can make fueling easier and more convenient.
Balanced performance plate for meal plan for teenage athletes
Before diving into the 7-day meal plan, it’s essential to grasp the concept of a balanced performance plate. This plate should include carbs, protein, healthy fats and color.
However, you’ll need to adjust the amount of nutrients on your performance plate depending on your activity and energy needs.
Here are the basic building block nutrients for a meal plan for teenage athletes
- Carbohydrates: These are the body’s primary energy source. Opt for whole grains and high fiber like brown rice, oats, quinoa or whole wheat pasta.
- Proteins: Vital for muscle repair and growth, lean sources like chicken, turkey, fish and plant-based options like tofu or legumes are excellent choices.
- Healthy fats: These provide long-lasting energy. Avocado, nuts, seeds and olive oil are great sources.
- Vegetables: Packed with essential vitamins and minerals, colorful veggies like broccoli, carrots and spinach should make up a significant portion of the plate.
- Fruits: Natural sugars and antioxidants come from fruits like berries, apples and oranges.
Importance of breakfast for teens: fueling your day
One of the most common mistakes that teenage athletes make is skipping breakfast. You may think that you are saving time or calories by doing so, but you are actually doing yourself a disservice.
Breakfast is the first step in providing your body with the energy it needs to power through the day. A nutritious breakfast kickstarts your daily fueling and helps you stay focused in school and during training.
Without breakfast, you may feel tired, hungry, irritable and less productive.
Spread energy intake throughout the day for teen meals
Another important aspect of nutrition for teenage athletes is to spread your energy intake throughout the day.
This means having balanced meals and snacks to prevent energy crashes and ensure optimal performance. One substantial meal can’t make up for missed nutrition.
Prepping foods for athletes
One of the challenges that athletes face is finding the time and energy to prepare healthy and balanced meals and snacks. Prepping foods in advance can help save time, money and hassle and ensure that you always have something nutritious to eat.
Tips on how to prep foods using an athlete grocery list
Plan your meals and snacks
Using our meal plan for teenage athletes guide, plan your meals and snacks for the week. Consider your training schedule, preferences and goals when making your plan.
Also, our grocery list for athletes is a guide to stock up on the foods you need from each food group: carbs, protein, fat, fruits and vegetables.
Prep your foods
Choose one or two days a week to do your food prep. This could be on the weekend or on a rest day. Set aside a few hours to cook, chop, portion and store your foods for the week.
When you prep foods ahead of time, make sure to have different sizes of containers and bags to make storing and freezing easy.
1. Cook your proteins, grains and starches in bulk
Bake, grill, roast or slow-cook your chicken, turkey, beef, fish or tofu and then divide them into individual portions to store. You can also hard-boil eggs or make egg muffins for easy breakfasts or snacks.
Cook oatmeal, rice, quinoa, pasta, potatoes or sweet potatoes and then store them in the fridge or freezer.
2. Wash and chop your fruits and vegetables
You can wash and chop your fruits and vegetables and store them in ziplock bags or containers in the fridge. You can also make salads or stir-fries and keep them in the fridge for a few days.
Additionally, freeze some fruits and vegetables for smoothies or soups.
3. Make your own sauces, dressings and dips
You can also make your own sauces, dressings and dips using ingredients like yogurt, hummus, salsa, pesto, peanut butter, honey, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, herbs and spices.
Store them in small jars or containers in the fridge and use them to add flavor and moisture to your meals and snacks.
4. Portion your snacks
Make your snacking easy by portioning your snacks into small bags or containers and keep them handy in your pantry, fridge or backpack. Some examples of snacks are nuts, seeds, dried fruits, granola bars, cheese sticks, yogurt cups, crackers, popcorn or trail mix.
7 day meal plan for teenage athletes guide
Our 7 day meal plan for teenage athletes guide provides you with basic ideas for you to follow to help you meet your energy needs for activity and life.
When you follow this teen athlete meal plan, you’ll eat balanced meals that include protein, carbs color and healthy fats.
|Day 1||Scrambled eggs with spinach, whole-grain toast and mixed berries||Grilled chicken breast, quinoa salad with cucumber, bell peppers, and feta and, almonds||Baked salmon with lemon-dill sauce, steamed broccoli, brown rice||Trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, low fat Greek yogurt, hummus and veggies|
|Day 2||Greek yogurt with honey, sliced bananas, whole-grain granola||Turkey and avocado whole-grain wrap, carrot sticks with hummus. Serve with a side of sliced apple||Beef stir-fry with mixed vegetables, brown rice||Greek yogurt with berries, carrots with hummus, cottage cheese and peaches|
|Day 3||Peanut butter and banana smoothie with oats, whole-grain toast||Lentil soup, whole-grain roll, sliced pineapple||Grilled shrimp skewers, quinoa salad (cherry tomatoes, black beans and corn)||Apple slices with almond butter, whole grain crackers and cheese sticks, hardboiled egg and grapes|
|Day 4||Breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, black beans, salsa, avocado and cheese and side of mixed berries||Grilled chicken skewers, wild rice, sliced bell peppers with hummus||Shrimp and orzo salad with tomato, feta cheese, arugula.||Fig bar and string cheese, trail mix, banana with nut butter|
|Day 5||Whole-grain pancakes with fresh berries, and low-fat milk||Marinated tempeh with mixed greens, pepitas, feta, chickpeas, vinaigrette dressing, whole-grain pita wedges||Grilled chicken thighs with barbecue glaze, sweet potato wedges, sautéed green beans||Pretzels with hummus, hardboiled egg and sliced apples, applesauce and string cheese|
|Day 6||Oatmeal with sliced bananas, chopped nuts, high protein milk,|
and orange juice
|Veggie wrap with hummus, avocado, bell peppers, cucumbers and|
spinach in a whole-grain tortilla, sliced mango
|Baked cod with citrus-herb marinade, quinoa pilaf with mixed leafy green salad||Roasted chickpeas, cottage cheese and pineapple, string cheese and whole grain crackers|
|Day 7||Scrambled tofu with diced tomatoes, spinach, whole-grain toast||Chickpea and vegetable curry, brown rice, pineapple chunks||Beef and broccoli stir-fry, steamed jasmine rice||Trail mix (nuts, seeds, dried fruits) or a banana|
A day in the life of a teen athlete – fueling example
Below is an example of how a teen schedule might look. If you have practice right after school, follow this guide below making adjustments for your school schedule times.
However, if you have a late evening practice, you’ll want to eat a smaller dinner or mini meal prior to practice and then a hearty recovery snack before bed.
7:00 am (Wake-up)
- Drink at least 8 oz of water first thing, then continue drinking water throughout the day
7:30 am (Breakfast)
- Low-fat Greek yogurt topped with a mix of fresh blueberries, raspberries, a drizzle of honey and high fiber granola. Side of whole grain toast with peanut butter.
- Overnight oats topped with chia seeds, chopped apples, cinnamon
- Toaster waffles, nut butter and banana
- High fiber smoothie with high protein milk, fruit, chia seeds
10:30 am (Mid-morning snack to eat between classes)
- String cheese, orange or whole grain crackers
- Apple slices and nut butter
- Hummus and carrots
12:30 pm (Lunch)
- Burrito bowl with chicken and rice
- Turkey sandwich with cheddar, guacamole, tomato on whole grain bread
- Quinoa salad with roasted veggies, feta and vinaigrette
- Tofu and veggie wrap with hummus and avocado
3:45 pm (Pre-practice snack)
- Get energized for practice with a pre-workout snack:
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Applesauce and trail mix
- Hummus and whole grain crackers
- String cheese and crackers
5:00 pm (Practice/Training/Game)
7:00 pm (Dinner)
- Grilled salmon, roasted sweet potatoes, side of roasted cauliflower
- Chicken skewers, brown rice, roasted broccoli
- Pesto pasta with shrimp, peas and feta
- Buddha bowl with tofu, veggies and brown rice
9:30 pm (Late evening snack)
- Cottage cheese and peaches
- Low fat greek yogurt with berries
- Frozen yogurt with fresh fruit
- Bowl of cereal and high protein milk
Why you don’t need additional supplements
As a teenage athlete, you may be tempted to take additional supplements to enhance your performance, health or appearance.
However, you should know that most supplements are not necessary, effective or safe for your age group.
You can get all the nutrients you need from food. A balanced diet that includes a variety of whole foods can provide you with enough carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals to support your growth, development and performance.
Food also contains other beneficial substances that supplements can’t replicate, such as fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants.
Also, food is more enjoyable, satisfying and affordable than supplements.
Our 7-day meal plan recognizes the challenges of being a busy teenage athlete. It emphasizes the importance of never skipping breakfast and spreading energy intake throughout the day.
By following this plan, you can maintain their energy levels, support their growth, and perform at your best while navigating your demanding schedules.
Don’t forget to adjust portion sizes based on individual needs, and stay hydrated to stay at the top of your game!
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Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND has over 22 years of experience in public health and nutrition. As a performance registered dietitian nutritionist, Stephanie specializes in sports nutrition and provides simple and actionable information so that athletes can be well fueled for high performance on and off the field. Stephanie has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.