Building meal plans for endurance athletes is a balancing act. The right nutrition plan can help high performing clients crush their goals. But the wrong nutrition plan can lead to undernourished athletes, missed personal bests, and muscle loss.
Kylee Van Horn is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of FlyNutrition. By coaching endurance athletes and runners, she has developed a solid understanding of how to create nutrition plans that truly optimize their performance.
When it comes to meal planning for runners and triathletes, ensuring their energy needs are met while also meeting micronutrient needs can be challenging. This is why having a plan is so important.
"Nutrient needs for this population are very high and by using That Clean Life, I help many of them get more variety into their diets than they normally would without a plan.”
Here are the meals that Kylee most often adds to her athlete's meal plans to keep them fueled and performing at their best.
Breakfast: Overnight Oats
Kylee knows she needs to "keep it simple" with her athlete's breakfast options. Her clients don't want to have to follow a ton of new recipes and constantly be referring to their plan, especially in the morning. Instead, they prefer to make large batches of meals and eat leftovers.
”Most of my athletes do not want seven different breakfasts, lunches and dinners throughout the week. Utilizing quick meals and leftovers is key!
This is exactly why overnight oats are so great. In just a few minutes, Kylee's clients can make a big batch of overnight oats, divide them into jars, and have breakfasts (or snacks) ready to go for days.
For Kylee, these Peanut Butter and Jam Overnight Oats recipe meet all of her criteria for an awesome post-workout recovery breakfast. They are quick, easy to prep, and portable. Not to mention, extremely delicious and satisfying! They pack 567 calories per serving including 17 grams of protein.
Pre & Post Workout Snack: Smoothies
Smoothies are the perfect way for athletes to consume a balanced, nutrient-dense pre- or post-workout snack.
This Peanut Butter Banana Oat Smoothie requires just four simple ingredients. It contains 389 calories with 12 grams of protein, 48 grams of carbs and 20 grams of fat. Clients can quickly up the protein and calories by adding a scoop of their favorite protein powder.
”Pre- and Post- Workout snacks are something I build into plans for those that are training a lot. This recipe is a high calorie snack, has balanced carbs and protein, and is great for a post long workout.”
Lunch: Salad Jars & Slow Cooker Meals
Kylee always recommends that her athletes prepare their lunches in advance so they can ensure adequate nutrition without having to stop mid-day to prepare it.
One of Kylee's go-to lunch recommendations are these Burrito Bowl Mason Jars which provide a delicious, high calorie, nutrient-dense and portable lunch.
Burrito Bowl Mason Jars can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to three days. Simply dump them into a bowl when ready to eat and toss for a delicious lunch!
Encouraging her clients to use their slow cooker is another way Kylee helps her clients prepare their lunches in advance.
Kylee loves this Slow Cooker Lentil Chili for plant-based athletes because it is packed full of protein, carbs and fiber. Her clients can freeze any leftovers for more lunches or dinners later on.
Dinner: 15-Minute & One-Pan Meals
To ensure her clients will actually follow the meal plan she provides them with, Kylee knows she must choose super simple dinner options.
”The runners and triathletes that I work with are all training 10+ hours a week. Meal planning can be something that they don't want to think about with their busy work and training schedules. I help them get in 'enough' nutrition to prevent underfueling. For those training a high number of hours, they need quick meals that are balanced.”
This Pressure Cooker Salmon Curry is a staple dinner recipe for Kylee's athlete nutrition plans for many reasons. First, it only requires her clients 15 minutes to make. Second, the recipe can be easily scaled up to make leftovers so that her clients can cook just once and eat it multiple times throughout the week. And last but certainly not least, this dish is packed full of omega 3 fatty acids which are integral to managing inflammation in endurance athletes.
As is, this Pressure Cooker Salmon Curry packs 417 calories including 26 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrates and 29 grams of fat. The recipe can be easily modified to include more salmon to up the protein, or use a lite coconut milk to reduce the fat.
Kylee also loves adding one-pan dinners to her client's nutrition plans. One-pan recipes are quick and provide “sport-specific” nutrients, which are something that needs to be considered individually for each athlete depending on the sport they compete in. What works well for one athlete isn’t necessarily the best option for the next.
Kylee loves pairing the One Pan Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs with a side salad to create a balanced meal that is family friendly and always makes enough leftovers.
Keeping meal plans nutritionally balanced is especially important for athletes, so be sure to keep an eye on your daily nutrition totals from your That Clean Life Planner:
You can also view this information as macronutrient percentages:
As you can see, Kylee has mastered the balancing act of providing meal plans to her clients that are simple to follow, yet help them perform their best. Learn more from this incredible Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Kylee Van Horn here.