The typical lifting diet includes plate after plate of palate-numbing options that usually revolve around chicken and rice or, for the old-school set, chicken and pasta. Break out of the boring mold. “Spaghetti squash is a great low-calorie, nutrient-packed alternative to pasta and rice,” says Jim White, R.D., spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios. “At just 42 calories per cup—versus 220 for pasta—spaghetti squash contains only 10 grams of carbohydrates.” Your body runs on carbs during a workout, and while spaghetti squash contains about one-third the carbs of pasta, it is still a decent source. “If eaten in larger quantities,” says White, “it would be a good source of energy while you’re still watching caloric intake.

FIT FACT:  Spaghetti squash is 92% water, making it a good meal to rehydrate with after a workout.

*Nutritional stats appearing over the image above are for the ‘Turkey Meatballs and Squash’ recipe.


  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 16 oz marinara sauce


  1. Cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Season the flesh with ½ tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  2. Line an oven tray with foil. Place the two halves flesh-side down and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until tender. Remove and let cool.
  3. Prepare the meatballs by combining turkey, panko, Parmesan, egg, basil, and parsley. Mix ingredients and form into meatballs. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet and cook the meatballs until browned.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add remaining olive oil. Sauté the garlic and onions until translucent. Add the marinara and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes.
  5. Using a fork, scrape the stringy flesh from the skin of the squash to make “noodles” and stir into the sauce. Serve topped with meatballs.
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