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The Athlete’s Guide to Meal Planning

Athletes are busy people. We all know that.

When it comes to staying on top of your fitness and nutrition goals, it’s easy to fall off the tracks now and then. If you can take one thing off your to-do list, wouldn’t that make your day-to-day so much easier? That’s where meal planning comes to the rescue!

“Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnected.” — T. Collin Campbell

Meal planning or prepping is the easiest way to keep your food intake consistent. Plus, planning your meals ahead of time means:

• You can avoid coming home hangry and not wanting to cook, so you just order takeout.
• You don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner since you already have it planned out!
• You can think ahead and plan meals that better support your fitness goals.
• You can more easily stick to a particular diet you want to follow. • You can avoid some of the temptations of grabbing those convenient, usually unhealthy, foods, like fast food.

When you want to start meal planning, it can be hard to figure out where you need to start for effective meal planning. Don’t worry; we’ve got you.

Here’s what you need to know before you start meal planning.

Stick to proper nutrition. 

We know that proper nutrition is essential for your performance and mental health. Sticking to a healthy diet should be easier when you start meal planning! By planning, you can ensure that your meals include everything you need for a balanced, nutritious meal without having to think about it daily! To create the perfect meal plan, include at least one carbohydrate (fruit, veggies, whole grains), one protein-packed item (meats, eggs, hummus), and one healthy fat (avocado, nuts and seeds, peanut butter). Choosing items with the best and highest nutrition levels will help you build a balanced diet without the daily effort.

Make a plan that works for you.

When you think of meal planning, you might think about those intense meal preppers with pre-cooked meals all packed and organized. But you don’t need to do all that! Effective meal planning is whatever works for you and your schedule/routines. It can be as simple as pre-cutting your veggies to make cooking quicker or preparing snacks or breakfast for the day.

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Become a meal prep pro.

If the organized pre-cooked and packed meals sound like the best fit for you, here’s what you need to know! Make sure you have enough storage containers. You’ll need to have at least 5 if you plan to cook dinners for the week and on weekends. Set aside time in your schedule to prep your meals for the week; prepping all of your meals for a week can be time-consuming, so plan accordingly! Package and label everything, especially with the date! If your week doesn’t go according to plan having the date on there will help you quickly tell if the food is still fresh enough to eat or not (typically a 5-day window).

Stay hydrated.

Don’t forget about your liquids! Whether it’s water, milk, 100% fruit juice, or sports drinks, it’s essential to stay hydrated throughout the day so include that in your meal plan! Consider planning protein smoothies or shakes to get some hydration and healthy protein into your plan.

Be prepared for on-the-go eating.

Being prepared to eat on the road or between training sessions is important. Relying on convenience foods during these busy times is the best way to throw you off track. Include healthy snacks and drinks in your meal plan for when you’re on the go! Go for foods that pack a lot of energy, like whole grains, cheese, veggies, hummus, or eggs.

If you’re living a busy athlete life, meal planning is a great way to ensure you stay on top of your nutrition just as much as your fitness goals. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having a meal out with friends or grabbing a quick breakfast at your favourite cafe. But, planning your meals ahead takes away the effort that usually comes with making healthy meals. There’s no right or wrong here; whatever works for you is the right way!

Whether you want to learn more about nutrition impacts your performance, the benefits of a nutrition coach, or trying to figure out what electrolytes even are, we’ve got you covered. From performance to nutrition to mental health, that’s the D-Word

“Nutrition is your athlete’s secret weapon to outcompete their competition. Nutrition can make a good athlete great or a great athlete good.” — Wendi Irlbeck

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