The Paleo diet for athletes is worth considering for anyone serious about triathlon or any endurance sports.
The Paleo Diet for Athletes
Nutrition is a key element to get right. Many triathletes suffer gastric distress on race day or run out of fuel and bonk-unable to continue. Without great nutrition, you cannot produce your best performances in training and your race can very quickly become unstuck by a simple nutritional error despite months of hard work and incredible preparation.
Paleo diet for athletes has been growing in popularity in the athletic community but what about the serious endurance requirements of triathletes?
A Quick Guide to the Paleo Diet for Athletes
However one of the biggest changes people who switch to Paleo diet for athletes talk about, is an incredible surge in energy and improved race performances by consuming less refined carbohydrate and more real food. When you think about it, many of the hunter-gatherers were doing endurance events every day just for survival- walking for miles to find food and shelter or jogging all day to track game. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 15 years, you will have heard of the Paleo diet.
In short, this diet advocates a return to the natural diet of our ancestors- hunters and gatherers. It suggests that we should eat exclusively those foods that our ancient ancestors ate during the Paleolithic Age, which covers the entire span of our evolution from roughly 2. Despite the fact that the human genome has remained relatively unchanged since the agricultural revolution 10, years ago, our diet and lifestyle have become progressively more divergent from those of our ancient ancestors.
This mismatch between our modern diet and lifestyle and our Paleolithic genome is playing a substantial role in the growing epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and possibly even cancer. Quite simply we are not designed to process foods with chemicals, additives, colors and E numbers. The Paleo diet for athletes advocates avoiding highly processed chemical laden foods and reducing our reliance on refined grains, dairy and sugars.
Of course there are many factors which explain this but nutrition is certainly one of them. Yes, some people will point out that our life expectancy is now longer.
They had to deal with tribal warfare, encounters with wild animals and infant mortality.
Equally those living now into later years often only do so with a cocktail of medications to keep them going. I need my grains and sugars. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. The typical athletic diet top-heavy with grains, starches, and refined sugars is detrimental to recovery, performance, and health.
Friel says the Paleo diet is high in trace nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for optimal performance and longterm recovery from exercise. The most nutrient dense foods are vegetables and seafood.
Fortunately, the Paleo diet has stood not only the test of time, but also the rigors of scientific scrutiny. Professor Loren Cordain has found with a very simple shift, we not only remove the foods that are at odds with our health grains, legumes, and dairy but we also increase our intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Should you do the Paleo diet?
There is good evidence that high consumption of grains tend to promote systemic inflammation, body fat storage and tissue acidity. Inflammation and acidity can lead to increased ageing, joint problems and delayed exercise recovery. Also grains can create a gluten problem that afflicts many people who are unaware of it but just feel tired all the time. Grains and legumes also contain anti-nutrients, which bind to food, prohibiting your body from properly absorbing all the nutrients. Dairy products are also acidic.
While a serving of milk might be high in calcium, the net effect it has on the body is acidic. If there is no alkaline-forming food to balance it out, the body may move to calcium in our bones in an attempt to find a balance. Other foods that contain more calcium than milk such as raw kale, broccoli and spinach.
Other health benefits of the Paleo diet for athletes way of eating include:. It takes a little while to understand what you can eat on the Paleo diet for athletes but actually there is so much available, you will never get bored. A generous amount of animal protein is recommended including meat, particularly game meat, poultry, fish and eggs. It is preferable to choose meat that is pasture-raised and grass-fed. A good amount of vegetables ranging from green leafy vegetables to root vegetables e.
Fruit and nuts in low to moderate amounts are encouraged, with a preference towards lower sugar fruits such as berries. Fats such as coconut oil, lard, ghee and duck fat are included on this list.
The only fats that need to be cut out are vegetable fats, particularly those that have been hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. These include margarines, peanut oil, safflower and sunflower oils. Olive oil and avocado oil are fine.
Use fresh and dried herbs and a variety of spices ginger, garlic, chilli to add to natural flavours.
The Paleo Diet for Athletes (2012)
All cereal grains and legumes i. NO wheat, rye, barley, oats, rice, corn, soy, peanuts, kidney beans Sugar — in any size, shape or form Dairy except butter. Many athletes actually have terrible diets, devoid of high quality nutrition. Many triathletes eat no vegetables or fruits and live on electrolyte drinks, burgers, fries, pizzas and sports nutrition bars around the clock. Sure, people can survive on bars and gels, donuts and burgers for a while.
The paleo diet for athletes pdf free
It is guaranteed though that they will not be healthy. They will also not be able to perform at their best. To get the best out of your body, you need to be putting in high quality fuel.
So for these people, a switch to a structured Paleo diet for athletes will be a massive benefit. Keep in mind these people have done no research and are just trying to keep you like them. They will say things like:. Not really, you are simple ditching a chemical laden non-nutritious diet for a massive intake of fresh fruit and vegetables and high quality protein.
Actually you are NOT avoiding carbohydrates. Of course we need them as an athletes. But you are getting them from high quality sources like veggies and fruit especially yams contain a lot of starch and are a great choice before a long training session or race. Most of the processed junk foods have almost no nutritional content at all. Though as a triathlete with a large training volume, some leeway is allowed.
You may require extra carbs during high volume, long duration training sessions and events.
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He provides recipes and guidelines to get you started. Try it for 30 days and see what you think for yourself. Featuring a daily meal plan, shopping lists, exercise guide with videos and more, this guide will set you on the road to success. If you want to lose weight, feel better, have more energy, reduce inflammation and pain, or even reverse diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, autism, diabetes, and obesity, this guide is for you.
A common sense approach is necessary with any change in diet. If you choose to try Paleo diet for athletes, I suggest introducing it gradually and test how your body feels.
During your race or training session, if it is over 90 minutes, most athletes will still benefit from a sports gel or drink- quickly-processed carbohydrates. With time and discipline of a low-carbohydrate diet, of course you can train your body burn more fat and you may not need these extra quickly processed carbs.
Great question! I limit all the processed stuff, eat as natural as possible and stick to proteins, fruits and vegetables. I do allow extra carbs for very long sessions. In myself, I feel better, I am leaner and stronger as an athlete and can push out better performances than I could do 5 years ago.
The Paleo Diet
I have noticed much faster recovery from hard sessions, I sleep better and have much less incidence of Achilles problems and knee pain which had flared up from time time before then.
You may find it more expensive initially to source organic, high quality produce. You will need to balance this decision for yourself. But if you can find some awesome local markets, it may save you money on all the junk food you may normally buy.
Robb has developed the The Paleo on a Budget Guide solution.
You can stick to your budget, find extra money, save time, and make Paleo work for you. This is an interactive guide with links to custom-created videos, audio files, bonus reading, and more. This guide is like a home study course on eating Paleo on a budget!
Some find it time consuming sourcing the right foods and preparing proper meals. The best way is to batch these tasks. Think about your week ahead and prepare a few meals in bulk that you can freeze and pull out when you need them. This is a fear many have. I thought this as well but I found it not to be true.
For example at an Italian restaurant, while everyone is having pizza and pasta , I would have the chicken and vegetables. Paleo purists, of course, would say there are enough carbs in yams, sweet potato for long events.
Paleo for Athletes
However, I find many triathletes I work with do allow themselves extras carbs for their long workouts. Use common sense -test and measure and write your results in your training journal. Pre-workout Breakfast Smoothie: Banana, eggs whites, protein powder, almond butter and cup of coffee. A bowl of mixed nuts and berries with coconut milk A coconut smoothie coconut milk, frozen berries, raw whole eggs, spoons of nut butter and a tsp of vanilla extract Tomato and egg stir-fry with spring onions Dairy free omelette with tomatoes, onion and spinach Poached cod on a bed of steamed spinach and fresh strawberries and blueberries.
Lunch Tuna salad wrapped in lettuce leaves and almonds A roast chicken salad with an olive oil and lemon juice vinaigrette Smoked salmon and green vegetables beans, kale, broccoli, salad as desired Steamed broccoli with hard boiled eggs.
Lean turkey breast as a wrap with avocado, sprouts, almond butter and salad inside. Macadamia nuts Hard boiled egg Bowl of berries with almonds Raw veggies with an avocado dip Cantaloupe, raisins, banana, cinnamon dusted sliced apples.
So let me know what you think- whether you are already an Paleo diet athlete , whether you tried it or whether you are on the fence for a while and not taken the plunge. This is an excellent guest post by good friend and triathlon coach Mikael Eriksson.