Paleo for Endurance Athletes
How endurance athletes can benefit from eating along the paleo template.
While we all know the Paleo diet lends itself to workout regimes such as CrossFit and the like, what you may not know is that the Paleo diet can effectively fuel endurance athletes as well. In fact, contrary to the popular belief that endurance athletes need carbohydrates to fuel their performance in the form of bread, pasta, gels, Powerbars and Gatorade, some endurance athletes are turning to the Paleo diet and finding greater success. The Examiner argues that the reason for this success can be attributed to the fact that the Paleo diet has been known to “aid in recovery, reduce the need for carbohydrates during a training session, aid in sleep, and create less of a chance of “bonking” during a race.”
Still, there is truth to the notion that enduring longer periods of exercise demands additional (not drastic) carbohydrate intake. However, that does not mean you have to forego your Paleo lifestyle just because you are training for a race. There are many fantastic, whole food options that are perfect for fueling your body pre, post and even during competition.
Here are just a handful of changes that you can make to your traditional “carb-loading” routines:
When prepping for an endurance competition, swap out that traditional “pasta dinner” and instead add an extra serving of yams or butternut squash to a more balanced pre-race (or training) dinner, complete with protein and fat. You will sleep better the night before your big race and will be armed with more sustainable energy. Instead of reaching for that race-day bagel, fuel your mornings with some sweet potato hash to accompany your bacon and eggs. For those of you who don’t want to miss out on the “fun” of a fuel belt, have no fear – you can still pack paleo nutrition on the go. Swap out those sugar-laden power bars and gels for banana and sweet potato purees to take with you on those long runs. They are just as effective for fueling your runs, but much easier to digest. As for snack options during your training, think about munching on fruits like dates and bananas. You will be amazed at the added and sustained energy you feel throughout your performance. Also, you know those ever-popular sports drinks with excess sugar, dyes and additives? By-pass those and choose the more natural coconut water for even better rehydration – and they come in a variety of flavors as well!
If you are looking for additional recipes, Ashley Tudor’s book, Sweet Potato Power offers some great insight and ideas for how to properly fuel for performance – she even includes some interesting recipes for making your own Paleo energy gels. It is definitely worth checking out!