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Sample Meal Plan for an Athlete

While the same nutritional basics that will keep a normal individual feel energetic and healthy will do, there are some key differences between an ideal diet for your average architect and the ideal diet for a marathon runner. Both of them need to avoid junk foods and overly processed garbage, but there are a few main differences. The athlete is going to need to consume a far greater amount of food due to their far greater energy expenditure due to training. In addition, they are going to have to eat around their training and competition schedules, and lastly they ideally are going to have a 7 day meal plan each week.

Eating an incredible amount of food in a way that isn't going to interfere with training is a difficult challenge, and one that every athlete needs to solve. Here are two proven methods for making this work.

  • First, and athlete can consume a large number of smaller meals throughout the day. This is the standard way that athletes eat, often resulting in as many as 10 separate meals consumed each and every day.
  • Second, an athlete can consume a number of very large meals (scheduled around their training to prevent complications from a full stomach) and take in a couple protein shakes or bars in between their meals.

If you are going to evenly space out a lot of meals during the day, your schedule and meal plan might look like the following. Please note that this will be a VERY inconvenient schedule to keep day in and day out.

  1. Large Protein Shake
  2. Protein bar or small shake
  3. Large high protein lunch (chicken/beef with potatoes, brown rice or quinua and vegetables)
  4. Protein bar or small shake
  5. Large high protein dinner (same as above, though choose different foods than you had for lunch)
  6. Protein bar or small shake
  7. Large Protein shake

In the above example, the protein bars and shakes can be replaced with smaller meals if you prefer and are able to, but bars and shakes make this inconvenient schedule a little less stressful. All the above meals are eaten between 2 and 3 hours apart from each other.

If you are going the large meals route, than your meal plan could look something like this:

  1. Large breakfast (eggs, potatoes or whole grain toast, vegetables or fruit, glass of milk if possible)
  2. Large lunch (meat, beans or lentils, brown rice or quinoa, vegetables, glass of milk if possible)
  3. Protein bar or shake
  4. Large dinner (similar to lunch, but with different food combinations)
  5. Shake before bed

In the above, you'll be timing your meals about 4 hours apart from each other, and you'll be timing your large meals around your training.

In both circumstances, it's a good idea to drink a protein shake during, or immediately after your training session. In both meal plans, you are going to have to learn to eat the same meals over and over again. If you try and vary them too much, then you are likely to fail to stick with your schedule or with eating clean.

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