The Paleo Diet Leaves Athletes Powerless | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

The Paleo Diet Leaves Athletes Powerless

November 16, 2012 | Mitch Calvert

Must See Nutrition Videos

If you were a typical member of the sedentary population, a Paleo-style diet could be sufficient. But you're not. You are an active, developing young athlete with a serious commitment to training, far from average. (See Caution: Low-Carb Diets Are Not for Athletes.)

You don't struggle to get to the gym. You practically live there. So between exercising at least four times a week, attending practice and playing games, your body demands carbs.  I'm not bashing the Paleo diet. It's a great program for optimizing hormonal output, minimizing fat gains and preventing hypertension in inactive people.

For you as an athlete, however, performance is everything. And carbs must be a part of your arsenal. Feed your body what it craves for fuel during hard workouts, and watch how much you improve as a result.

Athlete's Carb Considerations

Carbs help fuel your training sessions, meaning you recover better, your muscles look fuller, and you sleep better (because carbs release serotonin). On active days, you should be taking in two grams of carbs per pound of body weight. For example a 180-pound male requires 360 grams of carbs per day, ideally split among six meals, around 60 grams per sitting, with up to 100 grams in the post-workout window following hard exercise. Protein is important too. You need a minimum of 1 gram per pound of body weight to rebuild and repair broken-down muscle tissue.

Special Considerations

If you're an athlete with a less than optimal body fat percentage, you might want to limit your carb intake to one gram per pound of body weight. If you're in this category, you could stick to Paleo-style eating for meals that don't coincide with exercise. (See Building a Healthy Low-Carb Diet for Athletes.) For example, if you plan to work out at 5:00 p.m., you could eat Paleo meals for breakfast and lunch; drink a protein/carb shake before hitting the gym in the afternoon; and follow it up with a big meal of more protein and carbs after you're done, before reverting back to Paleo before bed.

For an opposing viewpoint, read Is the Paleo Diet Right for Athletes?

Topics: DIET
Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

The Boston Cannons'

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

The Case for Red Meat

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

Diet Changes: 5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Plan

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

3 Nutrition Mistakes Endurance Athletes Make and How to Fix Them

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

Tips for Healthy Weight Gain

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight