I am a high school track sprinter in the 100 and 400-yard dashes and I am trying to get lean for the season, but no one can give me a good answer on what I should eat, and I really don’t know much about dieting can you help me!?

– Nick R.


Hi Nick! As an athlete you know to focus on fueling performance during your competitive season. To lean out ahead of time I would NOT scrimp on calories, as nutrition goes down with less food. Teenagers are still in a growing/maturation period – even if you think you’re at full height. I would encourage you to continue present energy intake and increase exercise to burn fat.

While you keep calories even, make the most impact on your metabolism by replacing any sugary drinks with milk or pure fruit/vegetable juice. Swap whole-grain breads, buns and crackers for any white flour products you consume. Go lean with protein choices and bulk up sandwiches and burgers with avocado or grilled onions/mushrooms. A little fried food here and there is okay when better options aren’t available (we like tempura green beans). For desserts, stick to a fruit or dairy-based treat versus a baked good to satisfy your sweet tooth.

More specific tips can be found at

Good luck on the track!

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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