Whether you’re new to exercise, a weekend warrior or a seasoned athlete, proper nutrition will better energize your performance, improve recovery time and reduce the risk of injury. And when we’re talking about “proper nutrition,” we mean eating meals and snacks that are filled with the key macronutrients you need to fuel and feed your body. That’s why we’ve created a 1-week fitness-friendly meal plan that will help you maximize your macronutrients for improved performance and recovery, no matter your athletic goals.
Why macronutrients matter
All food is made up of some combination of the four macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein, fat and water. Each macronutrient plays a unique role in helping you achieve overall health, and each plays an important role in fitness.
Carbohydrates, which are absorbed as glucose, are typically the main source of fuel for your body and brain. Glucose can be used for energy or converted to fat or glycogen (the form of glucose that is stored for later use) when there’s a surplus. Foods that contain mostly carbohydrates include fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes and dairy.
Protein comprises amino acids, which play many roles, including repairing damaged tissue, constructing hormones and digestive enzymes, building immunity and transporting oxygen through your body. Excess protein is stored as fat or can be used as an inefficient form of energy. Foods that contain a lot of protein are meat, fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, dairy, legumes and soy.
Fat is an important source of fuel, an essential part of cell membranes and the backbone of sex hormones. It also facilitates the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and many phytonutrients. Fat-rich whole foods include nuts, seeds, coconut, avocado, olives and whole-fat dairy.
Hydration is crucial for good health and sports performance. To calculate how much you need, use this general rule of thumb: Divide your weight (in pounds) in half and drink that many ounces of water daily. When engaging in physical activity, aim to drink an additional 12 ounces for every 30 minutes of exercise to make up for lost fluid.
The amount of each macronutrient you need to perform your best varies depending on your age, gender, lean muscle mass, length and intensity of exercise, and whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. To ensure you’re getting what you need, start by making sure you eat and drink some of each macronutrient at every meal (start by using the “Know Your Numbers” calculator) and monitor how you feel when working out. After three to four weeks, you may consider adjusting the amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat you eat and note any differences in your results and how you feel.
Also, in addition to keeping tabs on the amount of each macronutrient you need, be sure to time your meals right.Section divider
This low-carb weeknight dinner comes together in a cinch with simple, fresh and delicious ingredients! Get the recipe here.
You won’t miss the rice in this high-protein, low-carb quinoa jambalaya. We also mix in lean chicken sausage, shrimp and plenty of good-for-you veggies. Get the recipe here.
This high-protein, high-fiber smoothie will keep you energized throughout the day. Get the recipe here.
A pesto marinade punches up the flavor of this grilled chicken while stone fruits add some sweetness. Get the recipe here.
Start your day with this veggie-packed cauliflower hash. It’s so filling you won’t even miss the carbs you’d find in a traditional hash. Get the recipe here.
Swap the buns for sweet potato rounds for a healthy — and satisfying — twist on a classic. Get the recipe here.
Beyond these recipes, this fitness-friendly meal plan also includes quick-and-easy extras that you can make throughout the week. These bonus recipes make it super simple to get a meal prepared – and you’re going to like them so much that they’re sure to become staples in your diet, especially as you work to improve your athletic performance, endurance and recovery.
Pecan Snack Bar
In a food processor, pulse 4 pitted dates and ½ cup pecans into small pieces. Add ¼ cup almond butter, 2 tbsp dried cherries, ½ scoop protein powder, ½ tsp each vanilla and cinnamon and 1/8 tsp salt. Pulse to combine. Press into an 8-inch glass baking dish. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Slice into 4 bars.
Open-Faced Tuna Salad Sandwich
Mix 1 can drained tuna, ½ avocado, mashed, ½ apple, diced, 1 tsp lemon juice and pinch each salt and pepper; spread on 1 slice toast.
In an oven-safe bowl, combine ½ banana, mashed, ½ cup oats, 1 cup milk, 1 egg, ¼ cup cottage cheese, ½ tsp each vanilla and cinnamon and ¼ tsp baking powder. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Top with 4 pecan halves, chopped, and pinch cinnamon. Bake 10 minutes more.
Cottage Cheese Toast
Top 1 slice toasted bread with 1 tbsp almond butter, 1/3 cup cottage cheese and pinch cinnamon.
Almond Banana Toast
Top 1 slice bread with 1 tbsp almond butter and ½ banana, sliced.
Top ½ cup cooked quinoa with sautéed mixture of 3 chicken sausage links, sliced, 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced, ½ yellow onion, thinly sliced, and 1 eggplant, sliced in rounds.Section divider
Your 1-week meal plan
|Monday||1 serving Smoky Cauliflower Hash (save leftovers); top with ½ avocado, cubed||1 Pecan Snack Bar (save leftovers)||1 Open-Faced Tuna Salad Sandwich; ½ apple sliced, with pinch cinnamon; ½ orange||1 Power Smoothie||2 Salmon Lettuce Wraps (save leftovers)|
|Tuesday||1 serving Baked Oatmeal (save leftovers)||1 serving Smoky Cauliflower Hash (leftovers)||2 Salmon Lettuce Wraps (leftovers)||1 Pecan Snack Bar (leftovers)||1 serving Quinoa Jambalaya (save leftovers)|
|Wednesday||1 serving Smoky Cauliflower Hash (leftovers)||Cottage Cheese Toast||1 serving Quinoa Jambalaya (leftovers)||1 Power Smoothie||1 serving Grilled Pesto Chicken & Fruit (save leftovers)|
|Thursday||1 serving Baked Oatmeal (leftovers)||1 Pecan Snack Bar (leftovers)||1 serving Quinoa Jambalaya (leftovers)||Almond Banana Toast||3 Sweet Potato Sliders (save leftovers)|
|Friday||1 serving Smoky Cauliflower Hash (leftovers)||1 apple with 1 tbsp almond butter||3 Sweet Potato Sliders (leftovers)||Cottage Cheese Toast||1 serving Quinoa Jambalaya (leftovers)|
|Saturday||½ cantaloupe filled with ½ cup cottage cheese and 1 tbsp chopped pecans||2 eggs, hard-boiled; 1 peach||1 serving Grilled Pesto Chicken & Fruit (leftovers)||1 Pecan Snack Bar (leftovers)||1 serving Italian Sauté (save leftovers)|
|Sunday||1 Power Smoothie||½ cantaloupe filled with ½ cup cottage cheese||1 serving Grilled Pesto Chicken & Fruit (leftovers)||1 serving Italian Sauté (leftovers)||3 Sweet Potato Sliders (leftovers)|
Proteins and dairy
- 1 dozen eggs (hard-boil 3)
- ½ qt milk (dairy or unsweetened nondairy)
- 1 lb grass-fed ground bison or beef
- 2 5-oz chicken breasts
- 5 chicken sausage links
- 8 oz wild-caught salmon fillet
- ½ lb uncooked shrimp
- 1 5-oz can chunk tuna in water
- 1 oz Parmesan cheese
- 1 pint full-fat cottage cheese
- 1 oz organic salted butter
Veggies and fruits
- 2 zucchini
- 1 head butter lettuce
- 1 carton microgreens
- 1 yellow summer squash
- 2 yellow bell peppers
- 12 shiitake mushrooms
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 large sweet potato
- 4 baby red potatoes
- 1 small cantaloupe
- 3 peaches
- 1 plum
- 3 avocados
- 2 bananas (freeze ½)
- 3 apples
- 1 orange
- 2 lemons
- 1 lime
- 1 mango
- 4 Medjool dates
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 head garlic
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- 1 bag frozen strawberries
- 1 bag fresh or frozen riced cauliflower
- 1 shallot
- 1 oz dried tart cherries
- 1 box quinoa
- 1 carton old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 loaf sprouted wholegrain bread
Nuts, seeds and oils
- 1 bottle avocado oil
- 1 jar almond butter
- 3½ oz pecans
- 1 bottle chia seeds
Extras and pantry staples
- 1 14.5-oz BPA-free can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 jar roasted red peppers
- 1 container vanilla whey protein powder
- 1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 bottle pure vanilla extract
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 bottle ground cinnamon
- 1 bottle ground coriander
- 1 bottle ground cumin
- 1 bottle smoked paprika
- 1 bottle dried oregano
- 1 bottle red pepper flakes
- 1 bottle dried thyme
- 1 bottle sea salt
- 1 bottle black pepper
- 1 bottle garlic powder
- 1 bottle onion powder
- 1 bottle chile powder