Nutrition is among the most controllable and modifiable factors that influence your athletic success, but most of the time, it is ignored. You can reach new heights if you pay special attention to healthy sports nutrition, particularly if you are a young athlete. As a cross country runner, your nutritional needs differ from those of a non-runner, and it may be challenging to find the appropriate meal to fuel your body. This short-read will aptly guide you on the right menu for whether you are an advanced runner or a beginner.
What is the best diet?
You need certain nutrients to be in abundance for sustained energy. The best diet for those long-distance runs includes precise ratios of fat, protein, iron, and carbohydrates. With this mix, your body will function at its peak performance and stay rejuvenated.
You must consume much more water than a non-athlete. Many factors determine the amount of water to drink, the greatest one being the fluid loss through sweating, altitude, temperature, and exercise intensity.
So, how much water should you gulp before, during, or after training?
It is essential to time your hydration during those high activity days. Before exercise, you should drink at least 16 ounces of water every two hours, and an additional 8 to 16 ounces before the workout. Once you begin, you should take in between 4-6 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. After the exercise, you need about 16-24 ounces for each pound you lose during the physical.
Also, remember to drink water with a big glass eight times throughout the day.
Carbohydrate-rich foods are ideal around training
You need to load up on starches to survive the cross-country environment since they are the primary fuel source for your body. Consuming them in the right proportions with proteins essentially maximizes your athletic performance. The amounts to eat daily depends on the duration and intensity of the runs as well as your body weight.
The recommended dietary allowance stands at 56 grams and 46 grams for men and women, respectively. Nursing and pregnant women require a daily minimum of 130 grams.
If you run regularly, then you need higher amounts than the minimum requirements to fuel your activity.
Fill yourself with proteins
While carbohydrates may be the primary energy source, proteins also get burned. Ordinarily, excess proteins lead to an increase in stored fat. But it is different for athletes since the extra is converted to fuel. Furthermore, it is crucial for muscle recovery and repair, and you need it more than a sedentary person due to the intense demands placed in your body.
By depending on proteins for about 15 percent of your entire calorie intake, or approximately 2.5 grams per day, you will significantly boost your endurance. The best sources include eggs, meat, fish, low-fat dairy products, and meat. Additional options include nuts and chicken breast.
Fats are important too
Most distance runners usually neglect this crucial component of an athlete’s menu, yet fats offer you a protection level that you cannot obtain from carbs alone. After running for over an hour, they become the main source of energy. Therefore, you need it in the right amounts while also training your body to convert fats into energy.
You need to stay away from any commercial snacks, desserts, and fast foods. These are similar to candies as they have little or no nutrients yet high in calories, salt, and sugar. Instead, go for healthier options like olive oil, nuts, avocado, and fish.
Keep your iron status optimal
Cross country athletes, especially if you are female, could be at risk of being low on iron. This can be detrimental to your performance and lead to a lower aerobic capacity. Iron is essential in the production of red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen through your body. Therefore, you must devour the right proportions to maintain athletic endurance.
Foods such as poultry, meat, fish, beans, whole white bread, and leafy green vegetables are iron-rich. Unless recommended by your doctor, avoid consuming iron supplements as too much of this element can cause constipation.
Finally, get sufficient sleep
Another most ignored factor by athletes is the amount of sleep they get, and this is common in teenage athletes. One of the greatest skills that athletics teaches you is time management, and you should conduct your duties and schedules to allow for quality sleep. Through resting, you will be able to handle all that training load, and this is crucial to ensure you perform to your highest ability.
Good nutrition combined with physical training is essential if you want to enjoy athletics and achieve your goals. With the tips above, you will know the appropriate meals to maintain the right balance between the energy consumed and the output.