It has been said a lot about the paleo diet. But I haven’t discussed the subject of the paleo diet for athletes. This topic is very important and interesting. And I will talk about it in this article.
As you may remember, the main rule of the paleo diet lies in eating the products which were consumed by people of the Stone Age. It is interesting that such a diet is a good option for our athletes.
It does not matter that this diet was actual for our ancestors since modern people still have the same bodies. As it was mentioned in my previous articles the human genome is still the same as ten thousand years ago. In other words, modern athletes are the same as paleolithic ones.
Main rule of the paleo diet
The main core of the paleo diet lies in the fact that some products are good for our bodies and some are not. Among such good foods are those that were eaten by ancient people approximately four million years ago.
Relatively not so long ago humanity has started to eat foods that are considered as not optimal to our bodies. It is a sad fact but our nowadays food contains the most of the products that bring harm to human body and among them are dairy products, legumes, and grains.
As we already know we have the same bodies as our ancestors and thus foods that are not natural for us can affect the state of health and power rates.
Among foods that we consume nowadays and that are considered as good for us are most of the vegetables, some fruits, and meat. Such foods were eaten by our ancestors thus we also can consume them.
Our bodies are adapted to them and get all substances needed for health. If you eat these products, you feel that you are full of energy. If you don’t eat them, your athletic performance is much lower than you expect it to be.
Is paleo diet good for athletes?
For experienced athletes, it is recommended to break some paleo diet rules since we talk about regime and body state that are not common for stone age people.
Modern athletes have some special needs and among them are the high level of energy and a rapid recovery. That is why the athletes may eat some foods that are considered as non-optimal for the paleo diet. Such a break of rules may be explained by an athlete’s scheme of eating relative to workouts.
Step #1: Before workout
It is recommended for athletes to eat foods containing a small number of carbohydrates before workout or competition. Such a meal should necessarily contain proteins and fat. However, foods consumed should not contain fiber.
Approximately 300 calories have to be consumed each hour before a workout. In case if it is not possible to eat two hours before a workout, consume 200 calories 10 minutes before training.
Step #2: During workout
The athlete’s body strongly needs a high level of carbohydrates during hard workouts and they should be consumed in the form of drinks. In this case, sports drink is a good option.
Good taste will also improve a mood of an athlete. But you should remember that workouts lasting less than one hour or warm up do not require such a high level of carbohydrates.
Sports drinks should be replaced with water. A number of calories needed during workouts can vary from 200 to 400 c. per hour. However, you should take into account the physical state and the duration of workouts or races.
Step #3: Right after workout
Right after a hard and long workout or race your body needs carbohydrates and protein in the form of drinks and in a ratio 5 to 1. Such a drink can be easily made at home.
To make it you need to mix a fruit juice with the banana, 4 tablespoons of glucose (number of tbsp depends on the body size), 3 tablespoons of protein powder and add some salt.
First 30 minutes right after the workout are essential for an athlete and you should pay attention to it. Give your body what it needs and you will see great results.
Step #4: For extended Recovery
After the long and highly intense workout it is essential to support your body with a high number of carbohydrates and protein. That is why in the next few hours continue to consume foods with a carbs and protein ratio at a 5 to 1.
During this meal, you can allow yourself to eat non-optimal meals such as pasta, grains, rice and some other products that contain glucose since they can supply you with a needed level of carbohydrates. It is recommended to eat sweet potatoes in the next few hours after a workout.
Step #5: Throughout the day
For a good recover after workout or race eat foods that are considered optimal for the paleo diet.
Number of carbs, fat and protein needed for athlete
The number of carbohydrates, fat, and protein that should be consumed by an athlete varies depending on the season.
It is recommended for an athlete to take the same dose of protein throughout a year. Talking about the number of calories, it should be 25% of the total number consumed by an athlete.
This is what athletes should eat during the day, taking into account the duration and intensity of workouts, experience, body size and physical form.
As it was mentioned above, the number of carbs, fat, and protein consumed by an athlete depends on the season. For example, when it comes to the preparation season, an athlete takes more fat while the number of carbs and protein consumed decreases.
This is a special time of the season when an athlete’s organism needs more fat, so that is why the number of fat consumed should be in the range of 30% of total calories while carbs consumption should constitute a half.
At the time of special preparation (build and peak) when the intensity of workouts is rather high, an athlete’s body needs more carbs to produce more energy. During this period steps, 4-5 are really essential since they promote good recovery of an athlete’s body. During this period the consumption of carbs raises up to 60% and fat consumption falls down to 20%
At the time when an athlete doesn’t train (the so-called transition period) or trains not so actively, the number of calories should be decreased as a lot of calories may result in extra pounds.
What are the advantages of the Paleo Diet?
As we all know being an athlete does not mean to be a healthy person. A lot of illnesses, sports injuries and excessive training can decrease power rates. In this case, the paleo diet is beneficial for athletes as it can improve their health. In comparison with other popular diets the paleo diet has the following advantages:
- It raises the consumption of BCAA that in their turn promote muscle development and have an anabolic effect. What is more, the paleo diet improves the immune system of an athlete which is affected by long and intensive workouts.
- Changes the amount of omega-6 and omega-3 in the body. Promotes the recovery after tissue injuries and heals inflammations. For example, asthma treatment (this illness is usual for athletes).
- The paleo diet decreases body acidity. It lowers the catabolic influence of acidosis on bones and muscles and at the same time promotes muscle protein synthesis. This process becomes essential with aging.
- The paleo diet is rich in vitamins and nutrients that are really needed during the recovery period. Foods with a great number of vitamins and nutrients are some vegetables. What is interesting is that vegetables contain nearly twice the essential substances than grains.
More facts on the Paleo Diet for Athletes
Those athletes who go in for such kinds of sport as swimming, running, cycling and some other endurance sport have special demands in nutrition and the way of life since he is always at the state of recovery (due to long and intensive workouts).
Good recovery, in this case, depends on sleep and nutrition. For such people, the paleo diet is recommended, but in its light form. It is clear that an athlete who trains a lot for a long time needs more carbs, fat, and protein than other paleo diet followers.
Fast recovery is the key question for athletes who go in for endurance sports. Since it becomes unreally to recover quickly after workouts while following the strict form of the Paleo Diet, it should be somehow modified.
By following the light form of the paleo diet during, before and after intense workouts you will notice two advantages: rapid recovery after intensive training and health improvement that is so necessary for an athlete.