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4000 Calorie Meal Plan

author image Michelle Kerns
Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.
4000 Calorie Meal Plan
A bowl of oatmeal with sliced banana on top. Photo Credit: YelenaYemchuk/iStock/Getty Images

If you are a male athlete serious about improving your performance in sports like basketball, football, track, long-distance running, swimming, tennis or baseball, you may need to follow a 4,000-calorie meal plan to obtain the nutrients your body needs. Simply eating 4,000 calories daily isn't enough, however -- the majority of your caloric intake should come from meals low in fat, sugar and sodium and dense with lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Ask a doctor or nutritionist with experience in sports medicine to help you develop an individualized plan.

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Begin With a Balanced Breakfast

Breakfast on a 4,000-calorie meal plan should provide you with at least 1,000 calories. Good choices might include 3 3/4 cups of a high-fiber, low-sugar breakfast cereal paired with 16 ounces of milk, two small pieces of whole fruit like bananas and six hard-boiled egg whites. You might also choose 2 cups of cooked oatmeal, a slice of whole-wheat toast spread with 1 tablespoon of nut butter, two pieces of whole fruit, three slices of reduced-fat turkey bacon and 16 ounces of milk. To avoid excess fat, choose low- or nonfat dairy products. Whole or sliced fruit is a better option than canned fruit packed in syrup.

Get Plenty of Protein at Lunch

Lunch -- which should consist of approximately 700 to 1,000 calories if you're eating three meals and three snacks daily -- could be 1 1/3 cups of pasta served with 3 ounces of grilled chicken breast, 1/2 cup of steamed vegetables drizzled with dressing, 1 cup of raw vegetables like broccoli and 2 1/2 cups of sliced fresh watermelon. For a lunch on-the-go, try two turkey sandwiches on whole-wheat bread, 1 cup of raw vegetable sticks, celery spread with 1 tablespoon of nut butter and 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce. Aim to make at least half of all the grains you eat whole grains, such as whole-wheat pasta, brown rice or whole-grain bread. Use reduced-fat mayonnaise and salad dressing whenever possible.

Aim for a High-Nutrient Dinner

A typical dinner on a 4,000-calorie meal plan could be 2 cups of cooked brown rice, 5 ounces of grilled or broiled salmon and 2 cups of steamed green vegetables like brussels sprouts. This meal would supply around 1,260 calories. You can still enjoy favorites like tacos or pizza, but make sure they're as healthy as possible. For example, try three beef soft tacos prepared with whole-wheat flour tortillas and lean ground beef topped with reduced-fat cheese, salsa and plenty of fresh vegetables like onions, shredded lettuce and tomatoes. Steer clear of fatty cuts of red meat and poultry with the skin intact in favor of lean beef or pork, skinless chicken or turkey, fish and shellfish.

Don't Skimp on Snacks

If you choose your snacks on a 4,000-calorie meal plan wisely, they can help keep your energy level high and maximize your nutrient intake. If you choose foods high in fat, sugar or refined carbohydrates, they will add empty calories without nourishing your body. Have between two and four snacks daily, ideally consuming them midmorning, afternoon and evening. Options that contain around 240 to 360 calories each include a whole-grain muffin with 8 ounces of 100-percent fruit juice, 12 whole-wheat crackers with 2 cups of sliced fruit or 2/3 cup of nonfat yogurt with one piece of whole fruit .

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