Paleo For Athletes The Paleo Diet For Athletes

Has anyone ever told you you’re acting like a caveman? Well, if they’re referring to your eating habits, you may be on the right track. In fact, eating like our ancestors did 2.5 million years ago may be the key to preventing many modern-day diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Athletes, too, may benefit from “the Paleo diet,” which emphasizes fruits, vegetables and lean meats.

What is the Paleo Diet?

Loren Cordain, PhD, author of “The Paleo Diet,” suggests that the human dietary system and our auxiliary methods of processing nutrients and disposing of toxins have not changed in any material way in the last 2.5 million years. By comparison, our eating habits have changed considerably, especially during the last 200 years. New foods have become available to us and have worked their way into a central position on our tables, largely because of their convenience, low cost and availability, not because of their nutritional value.

During the Stone Age, or Paleolithic era, humans were continuing to evolve in ways that kept their digestive systems compatible with the plant and animal foods most readily available to them. These included mostly unprocessed fruits, vegetables and lean meats.

Paleo foods did not include grain-based substances made from wheat, corn or rice. These grains and the foods derived from them, like bread and noodles, did not show up in our diets until about 10,000 years ago, which has not yet provided us with enough evolutionary time to allow our physiologies to catch up.

Dairy products and fatty meats are also excluded from the Paleo foods list. Instead, fatty acid-rich fish and lean meats, like chicken, are emphasized.

Paleo for Athletes

In 2005, Cordain and Joe Friel, MS, published a book entitled “The Paleo Diet for Athletes,” written as a sports-specific examination of the same basic nutritional principles outlined in the original book.

Because serious athletes are placing more demands on their bodies than our Stone Age ancestors did, Cordain and Friel acknowledge that some changes need to be made to the Paleo diet to adapt it to athletes. The authors break their recommendations up into five stages: