Cross-country runners usually compete off of paved roads, and common sites for races include parks, golf courses or trails. The fastest runners are lean, because extra body fat keeps you from achieving your full potential in cross-country. A careful diet can help you lose weight, but no single food can cause or prevent weight loss. Be sure to consult a doctor before starting any diet or weight loss program.
Calories and Weight Control
The balance between the calories you burn and the calories you consume determines whether you lose weight, gain weight or maintain your current weight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You will lose 1 pound of body fat when you expend 3,500 more calories than you eat. A healthy rate of weight loss for most individuals, including most cross-country runners, is 1 to 2 pounds of body fat per week. This rate requires an average daily deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories.
Estimating Calorie Needs
Your daily calorie needs depend on your metabolic rate and level of activity. Energy need calculators can help you estimate your metabolic rate, which is higher for males and heaver individuals, according to Iowa State University Extension. Cross-country running burns 9 calories per kilogram of body weight per hour. A 70-kilogram, or 154-pound, individual burns 630 calories per hour while running cross-country. The number of calories you should eat if you want to lose weight is lower than the total of calorie burned in basic metabolism and running cross-country.
Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat
A calorie deficit will lead to weight loss, regardless of the sources of your calories, notes the Department of Health and Human Services. However, you are more likely to lose achieve your weight loss goals and keep the weight off when you stay within the acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges, which means getting 45 to 65 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 10 to 35 percent of your calories from protein and 25 to 35 percent of your calories from fat. Carbohydrates are in fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes; healthy fats are in vegetable oils, nuts and fatty fish; protein is in legumes, meat, poultry, dairy products and tofu.
Cross-country runners need to focus on healthy foods to prevent nutrient deficiencies while cutting calories to lose weight. Added sugars, such as in sweets and soft drinks, and saturated fats in butter, cheese and fatty meats are sources of calories but not essential nutrients. They can stall weight loss and increase your chances of nutrient deficiencies. A healthy diet emphasizes nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, reduced-fat dairy products and healthy fats, explains the Department of Health and Human Services.