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Benefits of the Paleo Diet for Athletes

Training for an endurance event or engaging in intense workouts must be founded on good nutrition that fuels the body, allowing you push it to the limit.  According to paleo expert Dr. Loren Cordain, previously a long distance runner, the paleo diet provides the fuel and energy needed to get you through events and training sessions.  With the micronutrient-packed fruits, nuts, vegetables and lean meats that the paleo diet requires, your body will be able to perform well and efficiently to give you ultimate success in your events.

Carbohydrates are absolutely essential to the performance of endurance athletes, and according to Cordain and author/athlete Joe Friel, the carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables are much better for your performance than those that come from breads, pastas, rice and other grains and grain-based foods.  Though many runners believe that grain-based foods are necessary for successful athleticism, Friel states that once he skeptically transitioned to the paleo diet, his performance increased 100 percent.

The harder you workout and the larger you are, the more carbohydrates you need to fuel your body.  Yams, sweet potatos, squash, and fruit all provide adequate carbohydrates for high-intensity or anaerobic sports.  Robb Wolf, paleo expert, recommends that sprinters eat more lean protein combined with fruit and vegetables.  Depending on your sport, you will need to alter your diet to get the right macronutrients for optimal performance.  No matter what your sport is, the paleo diet can give you the strength, endurance, and recovery needed to execute training sessions and events.

According to Cordain, the paleo diet will increase the athlete’s health long-term, helping to prevent injuries and illness and increase performance.  With an increase in consumption of lean meats, you will also increase consumption of branched chain amino acids.  As a result, your muscle development and anabolic function will increase.  These amino acids are also likely to stifle immunosuppression, a common result of endurance training.  Branched chain amino acids are also responsible for a quick recovery after a hard workout or event, and, according to Robb Wolf, these results are beneficial for both strength and endurance competitors.

The paleo diet also increases your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation in the athlete’s body.  And, with the nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables you will consume, the paleo diet helps your body recover more quickly from events and training, and can give you the long-term health needed to keep up the training and physical demands necessary for athletes.

For athletes and those engaged in regular exercise, altering the diet in the days leading up to a race or event is unnecessary.  Greg Parham, a world-class bike racer, argues that because his diet already offers him optimal energy on a daily basis, he does not need to alter his diet to prepare for a race.  Instead, he simply eats how he normally eats and consistently has plenty of energy.  This benefit of the paleo diet is great for athletes, as they are constantly engaged in training and are often racing or performing.

Having a diet that provides quality nutrition and energy supplies that allow exceptional performance and quick recoveries is essential to the athlete, and the paleo diet does just that.  No matter what your sport is, be it an endurance or strength sport, the paleo diet can be altered to give you the best results and help your body perform optimally.

What started out as a self-discovering journey into a healthier lifestyle, has turned into a mission to share my findings with as many people as possible. Knowledge is power!

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