Is A Paleo Diet Realistic For Intense Exercisers?

Paleo and Exercise

For intense exercisers, a paleo approach may not provide the fuel your body needs

If you’re currently thinking of adopting the paleo diet plan, it’s important that you take some time to think about how this new eating style is going to impact your exercise performance.

The paleo diet approach is one that focuses on foods in their most natural state, primarily having you eat fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat sources, along with healthy oils.

Dairy products, grains, and legumes are all not permitted on this diet plan. So as you can see, it is relatively low carb diet.

Since exercise relies primarily on carbohydrates for fuel, you are going to notice some changes taking place in your workouts. Here’s what to know.

Step Back From Intense Exercise Overload

Perhaps the most important issue to address when moving to a paleo approach is how you will get the fuel to complete intense exercise.

If you are the type to be doing 3-4 intense weight lifting workouts per week along with two to three interval cardio sessions per week, something will have to give.

If you are following a traditional paleo approach, you just won’t have the fuel sources available to do this activity.

While you can certainly use fat as a fuel source during exercise (which the paleo plan is rich in), fat can only be relied on for a certain amount of energy output.

If you were doing numerous moderate intensity cardio workouts, you could transition easily to the paleo plan without giving it another thought.

For those who want to do more, carbs need to enter the picture.

So right away, start focusing on adding more fruit (especially bananas) right before and after your workout sessions.

Likewise, you may also consider bringing sweet potatoes or yams into the mix and eating those at this time as well.

Your Total Calorie Intake

In addition to carbs, you also need to look at your total calorie intake.

Intense Exercise

Daily intense exercise requires plenty of fuel. Does your body have enough?

Since exercise requires a fuel source, you’ll need to be replacing what you’re expelling through exercise in order to continue on.

Some people end up taking their calorie intake too low as they move to the paleo approach only to find their entire workout plan goes down the drain.

Start tracking your calorie intake and ensure you’re taking in anywhere from 6 calories per kilo of bodyweight (if weight loss is the goal) up to 9 calories per kilo (if you are looking to build muscle).

Ideally these calories will come from a balanced mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and dietary fats.

Consider A Paleo-Friendly Protein Powder

Finally, the last thing to think about is using a paleo friendly protein powder.

While they are harder to find, there are a few products on the market that are safe for those using paleo to consume and will provide that faster acting source of amino acids for immediately after your workout session.

This is important as your body is hungry for nutrients immediately following exercise and the faster you can provide them, the faster your recovery will take place.

The faster you recover, the faster you’ll see results. Mix this protein with a faster acting carbohydrate such as bananas or grapes to provide the perfect post-workout meal.

So keep these dietary factors in mind if you are considering the paleo approach.

This diet plan is used by many people with great success and can really go a long way towards improving your health.

This said, for someone who is very active, a few modifications do need to be made so that they can maintain the energy needed to continue with their exercise regime.