51 Healthy Recipes for Athletes (Ultimate Guide to Pre/Post Workout Meals)

  Jul 10, 2019  |  #Recipe Roundup

If you’re looking for healthy snacks for athletes, athlete nutrition recipes, or ideas for meals for athletes, this post is for you! I’ve compiled a list of breakfasts for athletes and healthy meals and snacks for athletes in this all-encompassing roundup. 

For all of my athletes out there, do you feel like you struggle with your eating?

It can be difficult to find healthy recipes for athletes that fall into each lifestyle, especially when we’re busy. I do recommend healthy meal delivery for athletes for super busy times, but it’s also helpful to have some staple recipes to make on your own.

But, have no fear! I have written this post with you in mind. 

Overhead bowls of egg noodle stir fry with side of soy sauce

I have vetted 51 recipes of healthy meals for athletes out to be some of the best recipes for athletes in training, in terms of time, convenience and nutrients. 

This roundup post is seriously a goldmine.

We’ve got vegetarian and vegan athlete meal plan ideas, gluten-free options, and easy to make meals that include simple ingredient lists.

closeup of sweet potato nachos on sheet pan topped with black beans, corn and cheese| Bucket List Tummy

In terms of necessary equipment, if you don’t yet have an instant pot, get yourself one!

It’s a huge helper for healthy meal prep for athletes and making life easier. 

There are ideas for breakfasts for athletes as well as healthy breakfasts for teenage athletes. Athlete nutrition recipes don’t have to be so hard!

Don’t get stuck in the sports nutrition myth mindset, thinking that you don’t have to eat a lot for your performance to be affected. 

Running on beach

Healthy Recipes for Athletes and Healthy Meal Prep for Athletes

If you’re looking for meal prep ideas for athletes, you’ve come to the right spot.

Many of these meal prep recipes for athletes can be made ahead of time!

51 Healthy Recipes for Athletes Roundup

I have also included plenty of healthy snacks for athletes on the go, healthy breakfast options, and pre and post workouts meals that are ideal for an athlete’s nutritional needs.

These meal ideas can even be perfect for the mother runner and running after pregnancy, and quick pick-me-up;s after a workout session!

These meals are easy and fit perfectly into meal prep tips for athletes.

Vegetarian Recipes for Athletes

First on the list are some entrees that are perfect ideas for lunch and dinner for vegetarian athletes and that can even fit a vegan athlete diet.

No matter what athlete diet plan you follow, you’ll find tons of resources and ideas here. 

Most of these recipes can be made in under an hour with minimal cleanup and are great if you need some meal prep snacks and ideas for the rest of the week.

This Beetroot Salad from Delicious RD has created is super easy to make! Plus, it is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants, making it perfect for a vegetarian diet for athletes.

Add more nuts, beans, lentils and/or grains for more protein. 

Beets are one of the top foods for endurance athletes because they can help with blood flow to the muscles.

Endurance food is a necessity!

Another great option for vegetarian athletes is this Veggie Pasta Bake.

It’s packed full of veggies and you can even customize it if you wanted to add meat. 

Pasta Bake in Casserole Dish, a vegetarian healthy meal for athletes

Want more carb and endurance power?

This kale and sweet potato mac and cheese will fuel you pre run, and it’s also one of the best healthy dinner ideas for teenage athletes. 

Seafood Recipes for Athletes

Looking for fish and seafood healthy entrees for athletes? Look no further!

Seafood provides essential anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, which can help with recovery (Source). 

Turmeric Zucchini Salmon Patties are one of my favorite quick weeknight recipes. They are high in protein and ready in 20 minutes.

These patties are great for weeknights when you are running low on time but still want something healthy.

You can also top your patty with some zoodles and add a bun if you would like it more sandwich style.

Salmon patties with buns and french fries

The Toasty Kitchen put a spin on traditional tuna salad with this refreshing Sweet Pea and Dill Tuna Salad that would make for an amazing lunch or a great healthy summer dinner. 

It’s ready in 10 minutes and FULL of protein.

Sheet pan seafood recipes are also totally easy.

Check out these sheet pan recipes:

Healthy Dinner Meal Prep Recipes for Athletes (With Meat)

I know dinner is what we typically struggle with the most since we either get home starving from a workout, or get home from picking the kids up. Things are hectic!

These healthy dinner ideas for athletes will help. 

Low Carb with Jennifer just made meal prepping easier with One Pan Chicken and Veggies. Perfect when planning the next 5 days of healthy lunches or feeding a crowd at dinner.

Looking for a gluten free burger option? My delicious Sweet Potato Turkey Burgers should meet all of your needs!

Not only are they full of protein and antioxidants, but a great replacement for the standard beef burger and the sweet potatoes offer some antioxidant power. 

Gluten free sweet potato turkey burgers with toppings

When you want something hands off for the cooler weather this fall, try this Pumpkin Chicken Crockpot Chili.

It’s hearty, healthy, and made in a crock pot—so that means less work prepping and minimal cleanup!

And we’ll usually add instant pot rice

Healthy Snacks For Athletes Recipes 

Everyone needs a pick me up through the day, but it can hard to find healthy snacks without hidden ingredients.

Be sure you try some of these amazing recipes, even your family will love them.

Plus, your kids may not even realize they are healthy!


If you are a muffin person, try some Oatmeal Raisin Protein Muffins. They are gluten free and naturally sweetened with dates.

These gluten free Almond Flour Banana Muffins are perfect for on the go and your little ones, and one of my favorite meal prep snacks ever.

If you have more of a sweet tooth but still want some fruits and veggies, these Chocolate Chickpea Banana Muffins are perfect for you!

Banana Muffins made with almond flour in a bowl with a kitchen towel on granite surface

If you’re looking for a grain free muffin recipe, strawberry chickpea muffins are a delicious way to up your protein intake. Just substitute a flax egg to meet a vegan athlete diet.

Pumpkin is a great source of Vitamins A and C, which both help with immunity, so can be a great meal prep idea for athletes year round.

These pumpkin zucchini muffins are naturally sweet and topped with peanut butter offer an easy pre or post workout snack.

Don’t look beyond baby muffins or toddler muffins either – lots of hidden veggies, goodness and nutrition in there!

Granola Bars and Protein Bars

Happy Kitchen’s Healthy Chewy Granola Bars are also a no bake recipe full of ingredients that can be adjusted to all your favorite seeds, grains, and fruits.

It’s not always easy to find vegan snacks for athletes with protein, but here are some Nut free Protein Bars that are budget-friendly and vegan. 

Food Meanderings’ Healthy Vegan Fruit and Oat Bars can be frozen and made ahead time.

Not to mention these are dairy, nut, gluten, and refined sugar free!

Energy Bites

Energy bites are great recipes for athletes because they are portable meal prep snacks and chock full of nutrients. They can usually be made very quickly and without any baking at all.

Coffee Chocolate Chip Protein Bites for athletes

Running low on time? Nourish Nutrition has these amazing Healthy Energy Bites that only take 10 minutes to make!

Just make a bunch at once to keep on hand for the week, or even to freeze and make for good pre workout food. 

Looking for something that you don’t have to bake?

These Blueberry Almond Energy Snacks from The Seasoned Mom are exactly what you need.

They are healthy, ready in 10 minutes, and uses only 5 ingredients!

Blueberry Almond Bites with honey and fresh blueberries alongside

Try these No Bake Peanut Butter Coconut Balls from Greedy Gourmet.

These are great to make in batches to reduce your meal prep for the week. You could also add some dark chocolate in as well for an extra flavor (and antioxidants).

One of my favorites are these Healthy Trail Mix Protein Bites from The Endless Meal.

Homemade Trail mix is perfect as an on-the-go snack and for kids, these are pretty much mess-free.

Healthy trail mix bites for athletes, with m'm's, raisins, and oats

Katalyst Health is throwing it back to childhood with these delicious PB & J Energy Bites.

She uses a plant-based protein which makes this healthy choice vegan. They are also no bake and gluten free.

These Oatmeal Peanut Butter Balls from Veggie Inspired are a powerhouse for nutrition.

Other Snack Ideas and Athlete Nutrition Recipes

Here is a perfect meal prep friendly snack, Almond Butter Stuffed Dates, from Choosing Chia.

These dates will satisfy your hunger fast (thanks to all that healthy fat) and are refined sugar free!

These are also a great pre-run snack (perhaps take it easy on the almond butter).

Dates stuffed with almond butter, sea salt and dark chocolate

Looking for something crunchy and healthy?

These easy Baked Plantain Chips from Wicked Spatula are Whole 30 super easy to make and gluten free!

Homemade plantain chips

Would you rather have a smoothie for a healthy snack? Great!

Here is an Orange Smoothie from Marathons and Motivation that is full of protein and is inflammation fighting.

Healthy Breakfasts for Athletes and Healthy Lunches for Teenage Athletes

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and breakfasts for athletes are extra important.

We certainly can’t undermine starting our day off on the right foot and athlete meal prep recipes should often revolve around breakfast to fuel morning workouts. 

Here are some healthy options that will leave you full, satisfied, and ready to take on the day!

These work great as healthy lunches for teenage athletes as well, to take and bring to school or eat when they get home. 

Try these delicious Granola Cups with Beet Rose Cardamom Yogurt from Seasons Healing.

Pack a few or pair with a hard boiled egg or extra yogurt for additional protein.

Get moving with this Shredded Sweet Potato Veggie Casserole or Vegan Sweet Potato Kale Hash.

Both are filled with protein, carbohydrates, and antioxidants, so the gang’s all here!

Your mouth will water over this Skillet Breakfast Scramble. This one skillet meal idea is gluten free and meal prep friendly.

Beef, eggs and veggies in a skillet

Another great savory to-go option are these Breakfast Egg Muffins from Hungry Healthy Happy. 

Sweet Breakfast Options

Prefer something sweet to savory after a workout? These are some more ideas for meals for athletes. 

You have to try these Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes from Erica’s Recipes. Not only a great option as breakfasts for athletes, but kids will love them too.

Try this easy Chocolate Protein Oats with Banana and Cinnamon dish from Seasons Healing.

This breakfast is all kinds of flavorful and full of recovery protein. 

Love oatmeal but feel stuck with the same old? Spice your morning up with Sweet Potato Blueberry Baked Oatmeal.

It’s ready in only 30 minutes and is a crowd pleaser.

Spoonful of Flavor is kicking it up with Trail Mix Breakfast Bars.

Perfect for on the go or if you have a busy morning planned. They are healthy, easy to make, and gluten free.

Healthy Trail Mix Bars for Athletes

Or, maybe you’re looking for a bread-less breakfast option or something that appeals to a vegan athlete diet?

Sweet Potato Toasts from Claudia Canu may be the perfect match.

You can top your toasts with banana, nut butter, avocado, or (faux) cheese; you decide!

Healthy Pre-Workout Food for Athletes

Need some pre-workout power? You’ll be surprised at the deliciousness found in these healthy pre-workout recipes.

What you choose may depend on the length and intensity of your workout, so we have options for everything!

Most of these are great as snacks for athletes on the go, and have minimal prep and cooking time.

Did you ever think gummy bears would make it on this list?

Snacking in Sneakers has created these awesome Watermelon Protein Gummies, that you can make with only 4 ingredients!


Watermelon Pre-Run Gummies

Need something on your way out the door? Try my favorite Cherry Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal Cups.

If you need some extra protein, grab a hard-boiled egg or some yogurt to pair with the muffins.

The Foodie Dietitian has cooked up some Almond Butter and Jelly Energy Bites that are great for a pre-workout choice. They are full of energy and may take you back to your childhood days!

Or, try Chocolate Hemp Seed Energy Bites as your next pre-workout snack from The Pretty Bee.

These energy boosters are no bake, vegan, and nut free.

Chocolate Hemp Seed Energy Bites in a bowl

The Belly Rules the Mind’s Apricot Energy Bites are ONLY 3 ingredients, great healthy snacks for athletes ready quick!

These bites are ready in 10 minutes, vegan, paleo friendly, and gluten-free.

Sweet potatoes can be an athlete’s best friend and one of the best endurance foods.

With that being said, try these Sweet Potato Coconut Ginger Energy Bites.

The ginger can help with workout soreness and inflammation. These energy bites are done in only 40 minutes and last up to a week in the fridge!

Closeup of sweet potato energy bites with coconut flakes

Healthy Post Workout Food for Athletes

So, you just finished a workout and are absolutely starving! It’s important to refuel with a combination of carbohydrates and protein.

Below are some great options whether you need healthy snacks for athletes or easy meal ideas. 


Smoothies can be among the best pre workout food and can also be ideal as a post workout snack because they don’t require a lot of prep and are easy to drink on the go.

Plus, post workout smoothies are filled with nutrients that you need to replenish but aren’t heavy enough to spoil your next meal.

Take a load off after your workout and enjoy this Chocolate Cherry Recovery Smoothie from Snacking in Sneakers.

Super yummy and among the best smoothies for inflammation. 

After a long workout, try cooling down with this delicious Tropical Creamsicle Post Workout Smoothie.

This is among the best breakfast smoothies for athletes because it offers a full balance of carbs, protein, and electrolytes.

This smoothie can be dairy free as well. 

Orange Protein Smoothie, great for a post workout meal

If you love cherries here is another post workout smoothie you will love.

The Chocolate and Tart Cherry Recovery Smoothie from Veg Girl RD is slightly different because sour cherries are used versus the traditional maraschino.

Looking for a vegan smoothie? The Post Workout Carrot Smoothie from Simple Scrumptious Cooking fits the bill.

If you prefer sweeter smoothies, you can add in additional fruit, agave/maple syrup, or coconut water.

Fruity Post Workout Smoothies

This Healthy Kitchen has come up with a delectable Strawberry Pineapple Smoothie.

You can use fresh or frozen fruit, and while it sounds extra refreshing, this smoothie has boasts 8 grams protein.

This Banana Date Protein Shake from Whitney Bond is vegan and gluten free. Not to mention that this shake offers 50% of your daily goal in protein.

Perfect as a protein snack for athletes or those who struggle eating enough protein to support activity. 

Here’s a vegan Pineapple Smoothie from Veggie Inspired, and this smoothie is packed with electrolytes and perfect for recovery!

This Dark Chocolate Raspberry Vegan Protein Shake from Occasionally Eggs is almost too pretty to eat, but a great choice for a vegan athlete diet. 

If you want to pair something “chewable” along with your smoothie, Natalie’s Health has created these no-bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bars.

They are perfect after a workout.

Stack of chocolate banana oatmeal bars

Great for on-the-go and you can make them in batches for easy meal prep.

Pair them with some yogurt or a hard-boiled egg for maximum recovery benefit. 

As you can see, there are endless options for healthy recipes for athletes, and some for every dietary preference. 

Do you have any favorite pre or post workout foods?

14 responses to “51 Healthy Recipes for Athletes (Ultimate Guide to Pre/Post Workout Meals)

  1. thank you so much your blog is very helpful nice posts please share sum new idea and cooking easy tips for dal tadka Making daily cooking quick, easy & effortless, while making sure the food is super fresh & Healthy. With Kwik Foods.

  2. WOW! This is such a great list! I’m bookmarking it for later because I definitely want to try a few of these – especially some of the snack recipes! They look amazing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *