Meal prep for athletes might sound like just another thing to add to an already busy week. However, if you’re working towards a fitness or health goal, meal prepping is a great way to set yourself up for success.
Should athletes meal prep?
If you have the time and resources, meal prepping is an excellent habit for athletes. The extra time and effort it takes to meal prep will pay off greatly during the week.
Not only does meal prepping save time during the week, but it helps reduce decision fatigue and avoid giving in to cravings or decisions that will keep you from meeting your goal.
Benefits of Meal Prep for Athletes
There are so many benefits of meal prep for athletes. Aside from working out and sticking to your fitness plan, what you eat is the next biggest contributor for whether or not you’ll meet your goals. Here are some of the most significant benefits of meal prepping for athletes.
- Decreases cooking and prep time throughout the week
- Reduces the number of decisions
- Helps decrease temptation for unhealthy choices
- Saves money on grocery bills and eating out
- Decreases food and other waste
- Helps ensure nutrition choices align with fitness goals
- Avoids wasted time deciding on meals or driving to get them
- Easiest way to stick to a certain diet or lifestyle
The benefits of meal prepping for athletes are plentiful, and the meals and snacks you create are entirely up to you and your goals. Whether you’re a runner, body builder, swimmer, weight lifter or simply looking to stay in peak physical shape, meal prepping is an excellent addition to your weekly to do list.
Meal Prep for Athletes: 9 Tips for Success
Most athletes know that meal prepping will help propel them towards success. However, making the decision to start and actually getting started often require a bit of motivation.
Blocking out a multi-hour chunk of time to meal prep doesn’t always sound enjoyable – but is just about always worth it. Here are some tips to make meal prep easier for athletes.
Stock up on necessary gear
Meal prep for athletes doesn’t have to involve any fancy or expensive supplies, but you will need to make sure you have at least of few of the basics to stay organized.
Evaluate your supply of food storage containers and think through what you’ll need each day. Make sure you have a lunch box, Tupperware or glass storage containers, Mason jars, containers for dry goods, silverware and anything else you might need on the go.
In addition, check to make sure you have all the kitchen equipment you’ll need to cook the recipes you’re planning. Blenders, food processors, cookware, strainers, etc., are certainly not necessary, but have the potential to greatly enhance the outcome.
Set aside time each week
The biggest drawback of meal prep for athletes is that it requires at least one significant block of time each week. Picking one time that can be consistent each week – such as a few hours on the weekend, a Monday morning, just after you pick up groceries, or in the evening – will set you up for success.
Stay consistent with your meal prep and prioritize this time each week. Protecting an hour or two of time each week will pay off in the coming days as it saves time before each meal and snack.
Be realistic with schedule
In order to pick a consistent meal prep time, you’ll need to take a realistic look through your schedule. Evaluate not only when time is available, but also when you usually feel energetic and motivated.
Plan a time where you are uninterrupted, or if you’re planning to meal prep with kids or other interruptions, be sure you are able to set aside a little bit longer than you expect the actual cooking will require.
Pre-plan meals and snacks
A surefire way to waste time when meal prepping is to get started and have no idea what you plan to make. Set aside a few minutes to plan out your meals and snacks for the week a day or two before you are going to meal prep.
This will help streamline the process, reduce wasted time, improve your efficiency and ensure you stay on track with nutrition.
Create a grocery list
If possible, make a grocery list when you plan out your meals and snacks for the week. Write down everything you will need for each of the recipes, and then go through and remove the food items you already have on hand.
Meal prep for athletes is most successful when it doesn’t require a ton of time. The best way to streamline the process is to batch cook while you are meal prepping. If there are two recipes that require baked veggies, chop and cook them all at the same time.
Start by chopping and washing all the produce and grains that will go in the oven, and then while those are baking, you can get things started on the stove. As everything cooks, you’ll be able to blend or make snacks.
Don’t forget snacks
When we think about meal prepping for the week, most of us automatically plan out breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, snacks are just as important (if not most important) when it comes to staying on track with healthy eating.
Plan out, shop for, and prep your snacks just as you do your meals. Having pre-baked and prepared snacks will help avoid giving into temptation when that hangry feeling strikes.
Pre-wash fruits and veggies
Speaking of snacks – fruit and veggies are a great snack. Set yourself up for success and ease throughout the week by pre-washing and cutting a few kinds of fruits and veggies. When hunger strikes during the week, you’ll have some ready-to-go, healthy snack options.
Stock up on dry goods
While you might not need them for this round of meal prepping, it is often easiest to purchase dry goods in bulk and save them for another week. Things such as oats, flours, grains, beans, legumes and canned goods can be purchased in bulk and then saved for later use.
Committing to meal prep for athletes means that you are prioritizing your health and nutrition just as much as your fitness, which will propel you towards your goals. Once you’ve established a system and developed a habit, meal prepping will take less time and begin to feel like a normal part of your routine.
Meal Prep Ideas for Athletes
When you’re just getting started or are simply looking for inspiration, it can be helpful to have a variety of options for your meal plan. Here are some simple, healthy and delicious meal prep ideas for athletes.
- Oatmeal or overnight oats
- Baked oatmeal
- Oatmeal or whole grain pancakes
- Chia pudding
- Eggs or tofu scramble
- Breakfast sandwiches
- Bread or muffins
- Homemade granola
Lunch or Dinner
- Mason jar salads + dressing
- Power bowls
- Stuffed sweet potatoes
- Stir fry
- Bread or muffins
- Oatmeal cookies
- Protein balls or energy bites
- Trail mix
- Homemade hummus
- Roasted chickpeas
- Storebought: yogurt, Larabars, rice crackers
When it comes to meal prep for athletes, these ideas are only the beginning. As you gain experience and get used to meal prepping, your creativity will grow and the options become limitless. Prioritizing how you fuel your body is just as important as prioritizing what you do at the gym.
Commit to meal prepping for a few weeks and by the end, you’ll no doubt be hooked. You won’t regret it!