Cross Country Runner Diet – UPDATED 2021 – A Complete Guide
Cross country runners have different nutritional requirements as compared to other athletes. They require a large amount of specific nutrients that deliver sustained energy for long-distance running. While a majority of cross country runners ignore the importance of nutrition, paying attention to nutrition right from an early age can help reach new heights.
In this guide, we discuss what a cross country runner diet should be like, what foods runners should eat and how they should take care of their nutrition needs.
Cross Country Runner Diet – A Complete Guide
The most successful runners customize their diet and use nutrition tips to optimize their performance, whether they are training or preparing for a race. The best cross country runner diet consists of a precise ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and iron. Such a mix enables the runner’s body to deliver optimum performance.
Best Diet For Cross Country Runners
Here are some of the best diet tips any cross country runner should follow. These are the most important components of an athlete’s diet and nutrition.
The primary requirement for any cross-country runner is to stay hydrated all the time. Running loses water from the body in the form of sweating so athletes need more water than others. Water helps prevent overheating and muscle cramps and fatigue. Cross-country runners lose up to eight pounds of water per hour. You should drink 16 ounces of water for every pound you lose while training.
Loading up on carbs is quite essential to develop endurance. It is recommended to increase the intake of complex carbohydrates as they digest slowly. Runners should meet their energy requirements by following a diet rich in carbs and eat foods like potatoes, whole grains, pasta and bread.
Protein is an essential part of a cross country runner’s diet. It is important for muscle repair and recovery. About 20 percent of the daily calorie intake should comprise protein-rich foods like tofu, low-fat dairy, eggs and meat. Cross country runners should eat about 2.5 g of protein per pound of their body weight every day.
Iron-rich foods should make a big part of a cross-country runner’s diet. Iron helps carry oxygen to different parts of the body and maintain endurance. Some of the best sources of iron include whole wheat foods, green leafy vegetables, fish, meat and poultry.
The body uses fats when you run long distances. Cross-country runners train their bodies to use fat stored in the body for energy. They should consume different types of healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids generally found in foods like vegetable oil, fish and olive oil. They should also avoid bad fats from refined oils, butter and processed sugars.
Female Cross Country Runner Diet
Adolescent female cross country runners should consume about 2200 calories per day from different groups of macronutrients. A daily diet of a female athlete should contain 2-4 servings each of fruits, vegetables, dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese) and proteins (eggs, fish, meat, beans, nuts, tofu). The diet also includes 6-11 servings of carbs (cereal, bread, rice, whole grains) and a little of oils, fats and sweets. To prevent iron deficiency, a female cross runner should include foods like green leafy vegetables, fortified cereal and bread every day. The diet should also have lean red meat 3-4 times a week.
Carbohydrates intake should be optimized on the days before the competition. An ideal pre-competition meal for a female athlete includes 2 cups of breakfast cereal with milk and banana or 2 cups of boiled rice with 2 bread slices. The athlete should also drink enough fluids with meals to stay hydrated during the race.
Female runners need more supplements than men to prevent deficiencies. They should take calcium and iron supplements along with vitamin D, B12 and iodine. Using a sports drink before, during and after the race or training can enhance performance and provide the calories and electrolytes for recovery.
What Should Cross Country Runners Eat?
There is no single best diet for cross country runners but there are some recommendations that every runner should follow to make sure he gets the right balance of nutrition required for optimum performance.
Here are some tips to follow:
Some of the best foods for cross country runners include :
-Whole grain bread, pasta, cereal
-Vegetables like spinach and other green leafs
-Almonds and nuts
-Lean meat like beef, chicken, fish
-Beans and legumes
-Fruits like berries
-Dairy including cheese, yogurt, milk
Eliminate foods like
-Eat whenever you feel hungry to keep the body fuelled
-Eat every 2-3 hours
-Consider 5-6 small meals and snacks during the day
-Drink at least 100 ounces of water per day
-Consume a nutritious meal or snack before and after race or practice
-Don’t skip your breakfast
-Stay away from unhealthy snacks
Keep your meals tasty and enjoyable. You can bake or grill your vegetables instead of boiling them. get some healthy snacks that you can grab when you feel like. Some of the great choices are granola bars, pretzels, dry cereal, pure juices, whole fruits and vegetables.
A Complete Nutrition Plan For Cross Country Runners
Every athlete has a unique body in terms of composition and activity level. This makes it difficult to provide a general nutrition guideline that meets the needs of every runner. However, cross country runners should consider getting 55-65 percent of their daily calorie intake from carbohydrates, 15-20 percent from protein sources and about 20 percent from healthy fats.
Cross country runners should make sure that the calories they eat provide the right mix of fats, proteins and carbs. You should also increase the carb and calorie intake as the running time and distance increase. The extra carbs you take help fuel the body’s primary energy source which gets used up when you exercise. Runners should aim at getting these carbs from whole grains and fruits and not from processed foods.
To meet the protein needs, cross country runners should eat chicken, lean pork and beef, nuts, beans, low-fat dairy, eggs and turkey. Some of the best sources of healthy fats for runners include avocado, seeds, nuts, peanut butter, olives and olive oil.
It is important to remember that restricting the calorie intake is not the way to become a successful athlete. You need to fuel your body for optimum performance and the right fuel is a complete nutrition. If you eat properly and follow the nutrition guidelines, your body will support you to achieve success.