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My son is a 13 year old 8th grader who will be running xc in the fall

Answered By Monica Walker Nutritionist

Question

My son is a 13 year old 8th grader who will be running cross country in the fall at his high school. As he plays baseball in the spring, he is not running track but is still running 20 miles/week. My question is what nutrition advice would you give a young aspiring cross country runner? What should he and should he not eat and is there a calorie intake that he should be focused on? He is 13 and weighs approximately 85 pounds. Thank you for your help.

Answer

Great question! Some of the best advice for athletes, especially teenagers, is to eat clean as much as possible. Processed foods with chemicals, additives, artificial colors & flavors can not only be harmful to their health, but are not an efficient source of fuel for athletes. Also ingesting 30+g carbohydrates (preferably fruit) and 20+g protein immediately after training/competition will maximize recovery and fuel the next session. Active teenage boys need 3000-4000 calories/day. With your son’s baseball/running schedule, I would recommend he be at the upper end of that range by high school. In order to get there, eating every 3-4 hours is necessary. Nutrient-dense foods such as lean meats & fish, eggs, nuts, oatmeal, whole-grain pasta, and berries will provide him with efficient sources of fuel as well as the nutrition needed for a growing teenage boy. Best of luck to him in baseball and next fall when he gets to high school!

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