Athletes often have different nutritional needs that most non-athletes don’t need to worry about. For example, we don’t typically need to carb-load for days on end or religiously avoid unnecessary fats and sugars prior to a competition, game, or race, or as part of a recovery regimen.
But there are various nutritional guidelines athletes follow that are beneficial to the everyday eater interested in their health: Eating whole foods, avoiding processed foods and refined sugars, nixing white bread and refined flours, loading up on fresh fruits and veggies, eating plenty of clean and lean protein, and adequately fueling the body with quality carbohydrate sources.
These healthy meals for athletes are designed with performance and recovery in mind, but they’re also perfect for anyone interested in eating for optimal health and without too much fuss. They’re packed with grass-fed beef and heritage-breed pork — both of which are clean protein options to maintain muscle mass. Athlete’s diets also embrace the health benefits of well-balanced meals and often include a solid, satiating carbohydrate source that fuels your body rather than weighs it down, and plenty of colorful vegetables for fiber, antioxidants, and more.
The best part? All of these meals are easy to prepare, meaning you can make them once and eat them throughout the week, which is ideal for busy athletes — or families — on the go!
Pork Loin with Sauerkraut and Brussels Sprouts
Get your fill of protein and cruciferous veggies with this gut-healthy punch. This pork loin with sauerkraut and brussels sprouts recipe features quality, heritage-breed pork protein, vibrant shaved Brussels sprouts and small red potatoes for carbs. Then, there’s the sauerkraut, which lends the dish European flair and some gut-healthy probiotics.
It’s a complete meal that’s ideal for athletes on the go, as it all comes together in a slow cooker while you’re getting a workout and doing your thing. Plus, there’s plenty of fiber, antioxidants, and clean protein.
One-Pan Smoky Ribeye with Sweet Potato Hash
Grass-fed steak reigns supreme in this one-pan smoky ribeye with sweet potato hash. The steak is loaded with nutrients, while the sweet potato hash offers plenty of sustaining veggie and carbohydrate-packed fuel.
Specifically, this hash recipe includes sweet potatoes, shaved Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, feta, and cashews, which deliver even more healthy fats, protein and carbs to keep you going. Make sure your dried cranberries don’t include any extra refined sugar, which might spike your blood sugar. Once again, this is a quick, one pan dinner perfect for a busy athlete or mom.
Quick Beef and Kidney Bean Chili
Here’s a protein-packed meal perfect for a competitive athlete that you can prep and keep in the fridge for the week. This quick beef and kidney bean chili is loaded with quality, clean animal protein in the form of grass-fed, lean ground beef as well as kidney beans.
It tastes amazing thanks to the flavorful blend of tomatoes, onion, celery, Poblano pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. It comes together in 45 minutes in a Dutch oven — no slaving over this pot of chili. As a friendly reminder, chili usually tastes even better on day two.
Chipotle Orange Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans
Meal prep-friendly food strikes again in this chipotle orange pork loin with sweet potatoes and green beans. While the pork loin offers a hint of sweet, the overall sugar content is modest with just a smidge of orange juice used to sweeten and flavor the pork. There’s also fresh orange for a burst of Vitamin C.
Green beans add the necessary green veggie element while sweet potatoes offer a quality carbohydrate source. If you’re carb-loading or otherwise need more carbs to fill you up, try serving this alongside some simple mashed potatoes.
Instant Pot Chuck Roast with Dirty Mash and Citrus Carrots
Do you own an Instant Pot? If not, you should invest in one: It makes meal prep a cinch. This Instant Pot chuck roast with dirty mash and citrus carrots is the perfect way to christen your Instant Pot with delicious, quality grass-fed protein, flavorful mashed potatoes for carbs, and vibrant citrusy carrots for a healthy root vegetable.
This meal is packed with savory flavor; the chuck roast is cooked with garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, red wine, beef broth, dried porcini mushrooms, salt, and pepper. The dirty mashed potatoes, meanwhile, boast Yukon gold potatoes, butter, milk, garlic, and chives.
Grilled Sockeye Salmon with Peppadew Butter, Asparagus, and Charred Tomatoes
This grilled Sockeye salmon with peppadew butter, asparagus, and charred tomatoes is the ideal way to prepare salmon, as it both comes together quickly and tastes amazing.
Smothered in a homemade peppadew butter that boasts peppadew juice, parsley, and garlic, this salmon is melt-in-your-mouth good. Asparagus and tomatoes both get similarly covered by the butter when they’re lightly charred on the grill.
Lemon Turmeric Marinated Flank Steak with Lentil and Beet Salad
This lemon turmeric marinated flank steak with lentil and beet salad is packed both with grass-fed and plant-based protein, thanks to quick-cooking flank steak and a lentil-filled veggie salad.
Beets and cauliflower round out the meal as a nutrient-packed addition. This recipe relies on a clean lemon turmeric vinaigrette and marinade for flavor, so it really only requires a handful of ingredients and a little bit of your time.
Lemon Garlic Marinated Top Round London Broil with “Squoodles”
Pasta, so long as it’s a whole grain variety, can be a decent choice for athletes in need of carbs, but the plant-based pasta in this lemon garlic marinated top round London broil with “squoodles” is made from butternut squash. It delivers all the benefits of a colorful veggie in a satiating package. Meanwhile, zesty lemon-garlic marinated London broil both tastes amazing and fuels you for your day.