Monday, September 29, 2008

A Timely Article..Paleo For Athletes Update

After posting about the Paleo Diet For Athletes last week, today an update arrived to me via email. I found it interesting and though some of you may too.

This weekend I created fabulous Salade Nicoise and Pumpkin Soup. I'll post pictures and recipes of both today.

Here is the update I received:

The Paleo Diet, published in 2002, introduced thousands of readers to the concept that there is a diet to which we are evolutionary adapted, that will lead to optimum health and body composition. As more and more serious athletes began to follow the diet, questions arose as to how to adapt the diet to the needs of someone training very hard. This led to The Paleo Diet for Athletes, authored by Loren Cordain and Joe Friel.

This week, we answer a reader question about optimum protein intake for a serious athlete attempting to refine their own Paleo Diet. Nell then provides some eating suggestions based on her own experience as an Ironman competitor.


I'm a pretty serious endurance distance runner who is trying to fine tune my own Paleo Diet.

I'm confused regarding the total number of grams of protein I need per day. I own both The Paleo Diet for Athletes and The Paleo Diet. I started with the athletes book and have recently purchased and read the original. I'm confused about the total daily protein grams because in The Paleo Diet for Athletes Book, page 67 table 4.8 suggests that with my training volume of 10-15 hrs/week, I should be consuming 0.8 - 0.9 grams/lb/day. Yet when I read The Paleo Diet I see on page 26-27 for a 25 y/o woman with a 2,200 calorie/day intake, her protein is listed at 190 grams.

Thank you in advance,
Thanks for the great question. Remember that our hunter-gatherer ancestors, although fit and active, did not typically do endurance running. They did often walk long distances, and when needed would perform a sprint Therefore, they didn't need the same amount of carbohydrates that a competitive athlete does.

The Paleo Diet is the diet that best fits our genome, because it is based on how we evolved to eat. It recommends macronutrient intake based on ranges estimated for most hunter-gatherer populations still in existence in the 20th century (which is 19 to 35% protein). A high protein, lower carbohydrate diet is very beneficial in terms of promoting optimum health and weight loss, and in preventing Metabolic Syndrome, a big health concern for a large percentage of the population.

The main purpose of The Paleo Diet for Athletes is to adapt The Paleo Diet to the nutritional needs of high-training 21st century endurance athletes. Since athletes need a higher amount of carbohydrates than sedentary people, the Paleo Diet for Athletes reduces protein and fat to accommodate more carbohydrates. However, it still provides higher levels of protein and less carbohydrate than is consumed by the typical athlete.
Are you wondering how to stick to your Paleo Food choices while you're preparing for Ironman, a marathon or another type of fitness endeavor?

After reading The Paleo Diet for Athletes, we see that there is value to utilizing some sports nutritional products that are man-made, yet we can still incorporate real food into our pre, during and post-workout diet.

I've successfully followed a Paleo regime through the last three seasons of training for Ironman Hawaii, so I'm confident that the following recommendations can support even a very rigorous training schedule:

* STARCH UP ON YAMS! Bake them in water, broil them in foil, reheat them in a pan with some olive oil on salt. By far, these are my #1 choice of fuel to stock up both the night before and the morning of a tough workout as well as a race.

* INCLUDE EGG WHITES! So easily digestible, portable and a no-brainer to prepare (hard-boil 'em a dozen at a time); you can't go wrong!

* ADD SOME BANANA! I must say, a banana never tastes as good as it does when you've just completed a long, hard run!

* MAKE YOUR OWN FUEL: While it might not be as 'neat' as unwrapping a store-bought energy bar, I find that bringing a salted yam with some raw almond butter and a sprinkling of salt along on a training ride proves to be most satisfying and a nice break from the sweet, sweet, sweet that you get when ingesting carbohydrate gels.

* LOVE THE HOMEBREW! I've told so many clients about the home made recovery drink found in Paleo for Athletes; not only can you vary the taste by changing the type of fruit, you'll also save a bundle compared to commercial recovery powders.

For all of you athletes out there- don't forget one important thing- SALT! If you've been out there training, you've lost electrolytes through sweat which need to be replaced to help take in, absorb and retain more fluids as per the recommendations in Paleo Diet for Athletes. So go ahead, add a pinch of salt to those yams!


I want to add that Precision Nutrition has some very good Paleo For Athletes friendly recipes. Some of the best post recovery shakes that I have tasted! I'll have to post a few of those recipes here as well.


Irish Blue said...

Hi Julie,
I'm a long time reader, first time poster...and I really love your blog. I read it whenever I need inspiration to get out there and run.

I'm currently training for my first marathon, (Chicago October 12th) and I had just been commenting to a friend this weekend how disappointed I've been that even with all of this training and running (and a 1800-2000 calorie a day diet), I CAN'T LOSE WEIGHT.

So, I have to tell you I'm so excited about your posts on Paleo. It was like a light bulb coming on for me. I'm not planning to change things up within the next few weeks before my race, but my post race goal is to lose 15-20 pounds and I've already ordered the book!!

I've watched your blog pics over the last two years and I can definitely see the changes in your body leanness/fitness. It's such an inspiration to see how far you have come. Gives newbies like me hope!!!

Take care,

Danni said...

I love your blog and read it often. I just want to chime in though and say that I don't think eating lots of processed carbs is part of mainstream nutrition's agenda. Instead, whole grains (think brown rice, wheat berries, good oatmeal etc.) are the better source. The Paleo Diet eliminates ALL grains, whole or not, as well as other random foods like peanut butter, beans and dairy. It works for many people but is still rather fad-ish. I think most people benefit from limiting processed carbs and sugars -- but eating "Paleo" might be an overly restrictive way for most people to do that.

Anyhow, just random thoughts on the Paleo Diet. Each person finds what works for them, and you have done that -- kudos for that. But I would also be a little careful about believing all the claims made by any "diet" -- the anthropological basis for the Paleo Diet is pretty shaky for example. But if it helps people eat better -- good. I guess my point is just that it's totally possible to limit refined carbs without adopting a specific "diet." Which I know you know but I think a lot of people do not understand this.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I too have heard about Paleo diet, it's specially for athletes.

Theo said...

I'm not sure I buy the recommendation to add in engineered carbs for endurance athletes nor do I believe that we have enough evidence to show that early humans did not do the equivalent of ultramarathons. One counterexample from early in the century was a Haravard anthropologist named Stefansson who lived with Inuit people off and on for up to 18 months at a time living on salmon, reindeer meat, and virtually no carbs. he documented these Inuit running 30 miles per day beside their dog sleds over ice, snow, and permafrost wearing their fur clothes.

See this article from the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism:

I believe there must be a way to get optimal nutrition for endurance sports by eating only whole foods and without using grains or processed sugars and things like maltodextrin. I wonder if anyone is aware of ultramarathoners who are doing this.

Another interesting counterpoint is Scott Jurek, an amazing ultramarathoner who wins on a vegan diet (and therefore moderate to high carb). He eats things like olives and humus pitas (mostly fats and complex carbs) while racing.