51 Healthy Athlete Meals (Ultimate Guide to Pre/Post Workout Meals)
- July 10, 2019
- Last Updated: May 10, 2022
- 15 Comments
- Sports Nutrition
If you’re looking for healthy snacks for athletes, athlete nutrition recipes, or athlete meals, this post is for you! I’ve compiled a list of breakfasts and healthy meals 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.
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. If you specifically want some ideas for lunches for athletes, I’ve got that too.
We’ve got vegetarian and vegan athlete meal plan ideas, gluten-free options, and easy to make meals that include simple ingredient lists, like things you can find on this athletes grocery list.
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!
Table of contents
- Healthy Meals for Athletes
- Vegetarian Recipes for Athletes
- Seafood Recipes for Athletes
- Healthy Dinner Ideas For Athletes
- Healthy Athlete Snacks
- Healthy Breakfasts and Lunches
- Healthy Pre-Workout Food for Athletes
- Healthy Post Workout Food for Athletes
Healthy Meals 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!
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! I really want all of my clients to understand how simple meal prep for athletes can transform their diet and diet quality.
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.
Most of these athlete meals 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 packed full of nutrients and antioxidants. Beets are one of the top foods for endurance athletes because they can help with blood flow to the muscles. Add more nuts, beans, lentils and/or grains for more protein.
- Another great option for vegetarian athletes is this Veggie Pasta Bake, a great endurance meal. It’s packed full of veggies and you can even customize it if you wanted to add meat.
- 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? 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.
- 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.
- Sheet pan honey ginger shrimp
- Sheet pan Alaskan halibut with chickpeas
- Sheet pan breaded honey mustard salmon
Healthy Dinner Ideas For Athletes
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.
- This One Pan Chicken and Veggies is 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.
- 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!
Healthy Athlete Snacks
Everyone needs a pick-me-up through the day, but it can hard to find healthy snacks for athletes that are nourishing, energizing, and even 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!
- 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’s diet.
- These pumpkin zucchini muffins are naturally sweet and topped with peanut butter offer an easy pre or post workout snack, also high in immune-boosting Vitamins A and C.
- Don’t look beyond baby muffins or toddler muffins either – lots of hidden veggies, goodness and nutrition in there!
Granola Bars and Protein Bars
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.
- These vegan trail mix bars are the best delicious peanut butter cheerio 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.
- 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 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.
- These vegan protein bites are easy to make, and also happen to be gluten free!
- I also love these pomegranate chocolate bites during the winter months.
- No Bake Peanut Butter Cherry Trail Mix Bites a pre-workout vegan energy bite that are gluten free and perfect for a healthy on the go option.
- No-bake Chocolate Almond Butter Protein Balls by Amy Gorin Nutrition could almost be mistaken for dessert they are so delicious!
- The Fit Cookie has created Chocolate Chip Protein Bites that are gluten, dairy, and nut free, and taste like dessert.
- Running low on time? Nourish Nutrition has these amazing Healthy Energy Bites that only take 10 minutes to make!
- 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!
- 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.
- Katalyst Health is throwing it back to childhood with these delicious PB & J Energy Bites, which are plant based, 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
- Almond Butter Stuffed 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).
- These easy Baked Plantain Chips from Wicked Spatula are Whole 30 super easy to make and gluten free!
Healthy Breakfasts and Lunches
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.
These healthy options will leave you full, satisfied, and ready to take on the day. If you’re unsure about what to eat before running in the morning, these options are a great start.
Many of these options also 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.
- Your mouth will water over this Skillet Breakfast Scramble. This one skillet meal idea is gluten free and meal prep friendly.
- 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?
- 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, which is 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.
- Sweet Potato Toasts from Claudia Canu can be topped 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.
- Snacking in Sneakers has created these awesome Watermelon Protein Gummies, that you can make with only 4 ingredients!
- 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, or even try homemade protein granola.
- 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!
- Chocolate Hemp Seed Energy Bites are no bake, vegan, and nut free.
- Sweet Potato Coconut Ginger Energy Bites are high in carbohydrates and ginger can help with a sensitive stomach and inflammation.
Healthy Post Workout Food for Athletes
So, you just finished a workout and are absolutely starving! This is where athlete snacks come into play.
It’s important to refuel with a combination of carbohydrates and protein, and greek yogurt smoothies are a great way to do that.
Another easy option is this turkey taco quinoa skillet.
Post Workout Smoothies
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, they are filled with nutrients that you need to replenish but aren’t heavy enough to spoil your next meal. We love smoothies as healthy meals for athletes.
- Take a load off after your workout and enjoy this Chocolate Cherry Recovery Smoothie.
- After a long workout, try cooling down with this delicious Orange Mango Smoothie. This is among the best breakfast smoothies for athletes because it offers a full balance of carbs, protein, and electrolytes.
- 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.
- For this 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 is vegan and gluten free and high in protein. It’s 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.
As you can see, there are endless options for healthy recipes for athletes, and some for every dietary preference. I hope you found this post helpful!
Do you have any favorite pre or post workout foods?
These are fantastic options to take after the workout and I’ll be referring back to this often! Thanks for an awesome post!
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Great post! I want to try these recipes. They’re easy yet delicious!
I’m not an athlete but I’m still going to try these delicious looking recipes. Thanks for sharing!
Nice content! I so love the recipes! Thanks a lot for sharing!
Such a great roundup! Definitely passing this along to all my runner friends 🙂
Thank you Chrissy!
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!
So many delicious options!
WOOF! You are feeding athletes for DAYS!! This is such a go to list of awesome meals! 🙂 I definitely see myself making a few myself!
Wow so many delicious recipes! Will definitely have to try these for my pre and post workouts.
Absolutely, hope they help provide inspiration.
wow this is quite a round up! I really like how you included choices for all kinds of dietary needs.
Thank you! I thought that was important to include.
There is so much great choice, Thanks for including my recipe.