young athletes

A Sample 1300 mg Calcium Meal Plan

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Hey there! Hope everyone had a great weekend. If you follow me on my Instagram you know that I got to spend Sunday doing one of my favorite activities with the family, ice skating. It was so much fun to skate but to also get to help my niece and nephew skate.

I just posted my blog post about calcium & vitamin D needs for kids and teens and the young athlete last week. This week, because I’m such an advocate for food first if possible, I want to share with you a couple of examples of what meeting needs through diet alone can look like. For my examples I have chosen the 1300 mg goal because teens are who I most often see with stress fractures and who I most often educate. See previous post for calcium recommended daily amounts for different ages. Remember that I’m really only considering calcium here. This does not reflect any particular energy, protein, carbohydrate or fat intake. Nor does it address other micronutrients. Comment with questions!

Happy Fueling!


1300 mg CALCIUM PER DAY MEAL PLANS (with dairy)



  • 5 oz yogurt (250 mg)

  • 1/2 tsp chia seeds (85 mg)

  • fruit


  • 1 oz raw or dry roasted almonds (75 mg)


  • Grilled chicken sandwich

  • With 1 slice of cheese (150 mg)

  • Side kale salad (2 cups fresh kale) (180 mg)


  • 8 oz. chocolate milk (300 mg)


  • Pork tenderloin

  • 1 baked potato (~30 mg)

    • 1 slice cheese (~150 mg)

    • plain yogurt (~50 mg)

  • 1 cup cooked broccoli (62 mg)

TOTAL CALCIUM: ~ 1332 mg



  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal (1/2 cup dry oats + 1 cup milk) (~328 mg)

  • 2 tsp almond butter (~28 mg)

  • 1/2 banana


  • 1 yogurt, not Greek (~ 5 oz.) (~250 mg)


  • Grilled salmon salad

    • 3 cups chopped fresh kale (270 mg)

    • 4 oz grilled Coho salmon (50 mg)

    • diced veggies of choice

    • 2 tbsp feta (~90 mg)

    • dressing of choice

  • fruit / crackers on the side


  • 5 figs (~135 mg)


  • Grilled chicken breast

    • 1 slice melted mozzarella cheese (~150 mg)

    • fresh sliced tomatoes + basil

  • 1 cup cooked broccoli (~60 mg)

  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice

  • 8 oz. milk (300 mg)


Calcium for the Young Athlete

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Calcium and Vitamin D are big topics for me as I continue working with young athletes.  I see many stress fractures commonly caused by a combination of overuse, under-resting, and suboptimal nutrition intake, specifically of calcium and vitamin D.  I have also had a number of friends ask me specific information regarding calcium and vitamin D and so, while not going into specific recommendations, I am dedicating a full post to these two nutrients. This and other posts will talk about general information. If you have real concerns that you or your athlete are not getting enough calcium, you should formally talk with your doctor or sports dietitian. Stay tuned for posts focused specifically on recipes and sample meal plans to come!


Calcium and vitamin D are two nutrients with an important role in bone health.  While calcium plays an essential role in bone development, vitamin D is a nutrient that aids in the absorption and regulation of the calcium.  Therefore, these two nutrients work together to protect against the loss of bone mass and maintain strong bones, which is especially important during the teen years when bones tend to grow at a more rapid rate. Calcium is also used for things like muscle contractions and heart function. The body uses the calcium in the blood for these functions. If not getting enough calcium to keep blood levels normal, the body will pull that needed calcium from the bones. Thus the reason we need to be getting calcium in what we eat and drink!


  • 4 - 8 years old: 1,000 mg / day

  • 9 - 13 years old: 1300 mg / day

  • 14 - 18 years old: 1300 mg / day


  • 1 - 18 years old: 600 IU / day


Calcium doesn’t have to come from just dairy. There are non-dairy sources too. Just remember that if you choose to get it from non-dairy sources, you are going to need bigger portions of those calcium-containing foods!

  • Leafy greens (kale, bok choy and collards)

  • Chia & sesame seeds

  • Figs

  • White beans

  • Almonds

  • Broccoli (small amounts)

  • Milk (any %. They all have the same amount of calcium per serving)

  • Yogurt

  • Cheese

  • Cottage cheese

  • Canned salmon

  • Calcium - fortified tofu


  • UV exposed mushrooms

  • Fortified milk substitutes & yogurts

  • Egg (yolks)

  • Salmon & tuna

  • Ready-to-eat cereals


  • Make oatmeal with milk or calcium-fortified milk substitutes

  • Fruit smoothie made with milk or yogurt

  • Add cheese to eggs and sandwiches

  • Drink a glass of milk or chocolate milk with meals or as your after practice snack (love these Horizon milk boxes that can be thrown in a lunchbox or sports bag!)

  • Pack string cheese as snacks

  • Add dry milk powder to oatmeal, soups, stews and baked goods

  • Include a yogurt & fruit parfait for breakfast or as an after-dinner snack

  • Top a baked potato with steamed broccoli, 1/4 cup shredded cheese and plain yogurt

  • Add 1/2 cup of cooked calcium-rich greens to meals

  • Snack on 1/2 cup cooked soybeans or 5 dried figs or toss over salads

  • Make a breakfast shake with calcium-fortified beverage, fruit & greens

  • Add chia seeds to oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies and salads

  • Include a glass of calcium - fortified orange juice with breakfast or a snack


Foods containing oxalates can inhibit calcium absorption.

Higher oxalate - containing foods = beans, nuts, soy beans, and some dark leafy greens like spinach.

Lower oxalate - containing foods = kale and Bok choy

This doesn’t mean you need to cut the higher oxalate - containing foods out of the diet, but try to incorporate some of the lower oxalate and non-oxalate - containing foods more often.

Meal Planning for the Young Athlete

I started meal planning and prepping in high school. I had begun to find myself giving the same effort as always but with less gains and improvements. I then experienced 2 individual events, one in my running and one in my skating. I first discovered that chicken fingers and fries from the school cafeteria was not the meal that was going to give me my best afternoon run or skate. Then I discovered that, on the flip side, not eating enough before events and not being prepared with snacks at away competitions would leave me tired and underfueled for practices and competitions. Both scenarios led to poor performances and, realizing this, I started to spend more time taking an interest in what I was putting onto my body and when.

I love working with athletes who have discovered this connection between food / nutrition and their sport and energy levels and are ready to take action. What I find they need the most is simply a starting point. Where to begin? How do you think about it? What is a framework for figuring this out?

Today I’m walking through some basic steps to meal planning and prepping for the young athlete. I’m focusing on lunch here but I can talk more about including breakfast and dinners if you guys want - just comment below! I hope you find this helpful. Please share with a friend or teammate who would also find this helpful!

Happy Fueling!



  1. Look at Your School Schedule

Before you can plan anything you have to know what you are planning for! How many lunches will you need? How many breakfasts? Are you factoring dinner into the equation or just breakfast, lunch and snacks?? I like to use my personal calendar for this so that it is visible in my busy daily schedule.

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2. Look at How Much Time You Have for Meals

How much time do you actually have for meals? Are you scarfing down breakfast as you run out the door in the morning? Do you eat breakfast at school after morning practice? Do you get a fast fifteen minutes for lunch that you squeeze in between last minute homework? Or do you have a full thirty minutes to an hour? ( IF your answer is none of the above, “I skip lunch”, then please resubmit your answer as either A or B, because, attention, you need all of your meals! Skipping a meal is not an option in the meal planning or prepping process! )

How much time you have for meals will also help you determine what you should plan for and bring. If you only have 15 minutes, bringing something that needs to be microwaved, is, realistically, probably not your best option. Write down lunch in your planner and how much time you think you will realistically have for it.

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3. Know What Your Nutrition Needs Are

All athletes have different macro and micronutrient needs depending on their own unique body and the sport that they play. An endurance runner will have different needs than a volleyball player who will have different needs than a football player who will have different needs than a figure skater. I talk with lots of athletes who are working on increasing their calcium intake, protein intake and overall energy intake. If this is also you, then it’s something you need to be considering! Are you a vegetarian? If so, then it’s really important to make sure you are getting enough protein, iron, zinc and B12 from plant and dairy sources (if you include dairy).

4. List Foods You Like In Each Food Group

While the new MyPlate does a good job of showcasing and simplifying the foods groups and how to incorporate them into meals, it only shows 5 food groups, failing to showcase fat, which I believe is a very important part of a healthy young athlete’s nutrition plan. Now that you have in mind your time-frame and nutrition needs, take a look at the Six Food Groups and the foods that you most commonly include within these groups:

  • Meat or Meat Equivalent (for those that don’t eat meat)

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

  • Whole Grains

  • Dairy

  • Fat

I like to put these categories in columns like the picture below so that it leaves room to brainstorm all of the possible foods you can include in each category.

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5. Choose at Least 3 Food Groups Per Meal

Now, think about what foods you want to include in your meals that week. Say you are planning lunch and you know that you are trying to get more calcium in your meals, you have cross country practice in 3 hours and you will have about 20 minutes for lunch today. That means you should probably bring something that can (A) be served cold, (B) contains calcium, (C) will offer a good portion of carbohydrate to fuel your run but (D) be lower in fat so that digesting the meal will not interfere with your run. For me, I might pick a MEAT (or “MEAT EQUIVALENT”), some GRAINS/STARCH and some DAIRY at a minimum (this could look like chicken, whole grain crackers & yogurt). Young athletes will most likely need much more food than this, but this is an example of the minimum from different categories.

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6. Vary the Foods within Each of These Food Groups Weekly

To keep it easy, you could plan to stick with a meat, starch and dairy food in each of your lunches. However, try to choose two or three foods within each of those food groups to get a variety of nutrients throughout the week and to prevent getting bored. For example, I might focus on the following three food groups and then choose the following foods within each food group to mix and match for the week. I’ll also throw in a few foods from other groups to complement meals as needed. Something I might choose would be:

  • MEAT = chicken, beans, eggs

  • STARCH = whole grain bread, sweet potatoes, whole grain crackers

  • DAIRY = low-fat yogurt and cheese

  • FRUITS = apples, grapes, bananas

  • VEGGIES = spinach, cucumbers, bell peppers, mushrooms

What meals could I make from this? Examples might be:

  • A chicken sandwich on whole - wheat bread with spinach, cheese and mustard + an apple + a yogurt

  • A spinach salad topped with hard boiled eggs, garbanzo beans, cucumbers and bell peppers + an olive oil - based dressing + a low-fat yogurt (a Greek or high protein yogurt if I need more protein and it digests in time for my run) + a bunch of grapes

  • You can also keep it super basic and make what I like to call a “grab bag”. There is certainly nothing wrong with this! Bring a ziplock baggie of chicken + a baggie of grapes + whole grain crackers + a low-fat yogurt and whatever else you might need to keep you fueled!

Remember that my examples here are not personalized. You may need less or a lot more food than this. These examples are just to give you a basic visual.

Summer Sports Camp Fuel


Just because it's summer doesn't mean the madness stops.  It seems to simply shift to a different routine of crazy as you juggle your own regular work schedule plus your athlete's morning practices, two-a-days, sports camps, and other summer activities, all while making sure you and your young athlete are fueled enough to get you both through the day.  Special attention is needed for young athletes who, depending on their sport, may have gone from a one to two-hour practice before school and / or a 2 to 3 hour practice after school to all-day sports camps consisting of breaks here and there throughout the day, but not much time for rest and recovery and often times out in the heat of the day.

So, let's talk SPORTS CAMP FUEL.  The goal here is to energize and to hydrate.  To provide quick fuel and also provide sustained energy.  "Quick", "totable", "simple" are the criteria for these meals and snacks - items that can be made before bed or assembled quickly in the morning before heading out for the day.

To hopefully make life a bit easier, below, I have compiled a list of snack ideas for camp with a little explanation of why they make great sports snacks.  For more ideas keep up with the blog, which will be featuring healthy fueling snacks throughout the months to come!


  • Water

  • Smoothies (fluid, antioxidants, and carbohydrate from fruits and water / ice)

  • Fresh fruits (such as: grapes, tangerines, pineapple, watermelon, apple slices)

  • Mini bottles of a sports drink (like Gatorade)



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  • Water

  • Pretzels or other salty crackers (quick carbohydrates + salt to replace sodium lost in sweat and help retain fluid)

  • Dried fruit (quick carbohydrate + antioxidants + some iron, depending on the dried fruit)

  • Whole grain cereal (low in fat and fiber)

  • Fresh fruit

  • Granola bars (low in fat and fiber)

  • Jam Sandwich on white bread (very quick carbohydrate)


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  • String Cheese

  • Turkey & Cheese Pita

  • Turkey & Hummus Wrap

  • Bowl of whole grain cereal with low-fat milk

  • Nonfat Greek yogurt topped with fruit and a little low-fat granola

  • DIY Blackberry Burst yogurt (a Taylored Recipe)

  • Hummus & whole grain crackers (healthy fat, protein, fiber + a little iron)

  • Low-fat milk or chocolate milk (carbohydrate, potassium & protein - great snack to refuel)

  • Smoothies made with milk / yogurt

  • Fig & Cheddar Turkey Sandwich (a Taylored Recipe)

  • Sliced tomato or pineapple & cottage cheese

  • Pasta salad with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and Italian dressing

  • Quinoa / rice bowl with bell peppers, avocado, chopped grilled chicken & salsa



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  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich

  • Graham crackers with peanut butter topped with strawberry or banana slice

  • homemade trail mix (nuts, whole grain cereal & dried fruit)

  • Hearty whole grain granola bars with at least 6 grams of protein

  • Peanut Butter Banana Oat Bites

  • Popcorn

  • Pre-packaged oatmeal packets (if a microwave will be available)

  • Carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, baby tomatoes (as a side)


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  • Water

  • Nonfat yogurts

  • Nonfat or low-fat cottage cheese

  • Smoothies

  • Fresh or frozen fruit

  • Fresh vegetable slices (such as: carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumber)

  • Sports drinks

  • Apple sauce

  • Chocolate milk (great recovery drink after a long intense practice)

  • Vegetable juice (such as V8 or tomato juice)

Feel free to comment below with any questions or suggestions of things you do that work for you and your young athlete!

Happy Fueling!