Can the Paleo Diet Work for Athletes?

Paleo Diet

Athletes have much to learn from their ancient ancestors, who spent their days running from saber-toothed tigers and hunting for food. Early humans survived harsh conditions by fueling their bodies with vegetables, fruits, and lean animal protein.

They didn't have the grains, dairy and processed foods that line our grocery shelves. Advocates of the Paleo diet say that avoiding these modern foods can prevent obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, depression, and infertility

A 2008 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that three weeks on a Paleolithic diet significantly reduced weight, Body Mass Index, waist circumference, and systolic blood pressure (the peak pressure in the arteries at the end of a workout) in 14 healthy people.

For athletes, following a modified version of the Paleo diet could mean an increase in performance. According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Human Evolution, our prehistoric ancestors were running and walking farther than today's highly trained modern athletes.

Loren Cordain and Joe Friel, authors of The Paleo Diet for Athletes, recommend eating the diet's optimal foods to thrive, but admit that serious athletes need to make modifications and not cut out carbs and grains entirely.

Otherwise, keep in mind:

  • If you can hunt it, grow it, or gather it, it is an optimal food
  • If it comes out of a box or a processing plant, avoid it
  • You should drink water as your main fluid

For more information, visit http://thepaleodiet.com.

Optimal / Non-Optimal Foods

  • Fruits / Dairy
  • Vegetables / Grains
  • Lean Meats / Processed food & sugar
  • Seafood / Legumes
  • Nuts & Seeds / Starches
  • Healthy Fats / Alcohol

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: PROTEIN | DIET | NUTRITION | RUNNING | WATER | FOODS | HEART | VEGETABLES | DEPRESSION | HUNTING | BLOOD PRESSURE | HEART DISEASE | OBESITY | PALEO DIET