The Paleo diet is all about going back to our roots when humans were hunter-gatherers. The idea is to eat like early man did, which endowed them with great energy to explore parts unknown.
Similar to the Hadza diet, the Paleo diet will require you to include lots of organic, grass-fed meat; berries; roots; eggs and fish. Dairy and refined carbs, along with all kinds of legumes and grains are a strict no-no. But if you are a runner, then you may need to modify your Paleo diet in order to make it enhance your performance and endurance.
Running On A Paleo Diet
Firstly, you will need to divide your nutrition plan into stages. You can abide by the Paleo diet for most of the meals but you will need to make necessary adjustments, especially before and after your runs. Aim to increase your intake of carbs around hard training sessions and races, after which you can go back to full Paleo for the rest of the time.
However, if you are serious about going full Paleo, then there is no harm in being Paleo 80 to 90 percent of the time. This way you will be able to load up on the carbs and have enough energy to run longer. On days you are not training or are recovering from a marathon, then make sure to predominantly eat Paleo.
If you are running for longer distances then the “stay away from processed foods” doesn’t apply to you. Aim to increase your carb intake by consuming foods that are glucose-rich, such as sports drinks, gels, bagels, bread, pasta and rice. But be mindful of consuming these foods on other days. However, if being 100 percent Paleo works for you, then you can stay dedicated to it.
You can also up your carb intake by sticking to paleo foods by eating plenty of sweet potatoes, yams, squash, and bananas. You can make space for more carbs when your running by cutting back on protein and fat like meat, eggs, and fish.
Benefits For Runners
A Paleo Diet ensures that you have the necessary (if not more) vitamins and antioxidants to boost a strong immune system. It also increases fat oxidation, which is key for endurance running, and a faster muscle recovery rate. It also has a high micronutrient content and branched-chain amino acids, which are vital for muscle repair.
If you are a runner and looking at losing weight, the Paleo diet helps by increasing your glycemic index function for better fat metabolism in working muscles. Being on a strict Paleo diet also increases insulin sensitivity, which is great news for diabetics. Further, it also helps in reducing inflammation to reduce the incidence of allergies, cold and flu.
A Paleo diet – as opposed to a high starch and sugar diet, usually followed by athletes- is more healthy anyway. Due to the high vitamin and antioxidant content (and we are not emphasizing this), improves immunity; increases fat oxidation, which helps in long-distance endurance; balances pH levels; and helps in muscle repair and recovery.All of which will eventually make you a faster and stronger runner.
To get you started with an easy Paleo addition, we have the go-to snack recipe for many Paleo athletes- Guacamole! Guac is great to keep you fuelled providing you with short bursts of energy. Pair it with raw green veggies for a perfect dip.
Here’s what you need to make it:
- 1 large tomato
- 3 avocados, ripe but not bruised
- juice of 1 large lime
- A handful of coriander two-ways – stalk and leaves chopped fine, and just leaves chopped, to serve
- 1 small red onion – finely chopped
- 1 chilli – red or green – deseeded according to taste, finely chopped
- Sticks of cucumber, celery or carrot.
How to make it:
Use a large knife to finely chop the tomato (think salsa consistency) to a pulp on a board, then tip into a bowl. Halve and stone the avocados (saving one stone) and scoop out the flesh with a spoon into the same bowl as the tomato.
Tip all the other ingredients into the bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Use a whisk to roughly mash everything together. If not serving straight away, keep the stone in the guacamole (this helps to stop it going brown), cover with cling film and keep it chilled until needed. Scatter the coriander on top and then serve with veggie sticks.
Delicious and healthy. One can never go wrong with guac! Bon appètit!