The Paleo diet is a popular healthy diet – but is it right for Endurance Athletes like long-distance runners, swimmers, and triathletes? Super athletes have different caloric needs than regular people and other athletes. Without meeting these special dietary needs they won’t be able to compete on the highest levels.
Many athletes looking to take their abilities to the next level look off the field at their diet. A well-balanced diet can help achieve success on the field goals, prevent injuries, and decrease recovery time. In this guide we will review the benefits and downsides to following the Paleolithic diet while training for endurance sports.
Pros of Paleo for Endurance Athletes
Paleo – like many diets – has many benefits for athletes competing in endurance sports. By eating a healthy diet that avoids sugar, corn syrup, and other empty calories and focusing your meals to include meats, vegetables, and other all-natural foods you can give your body the fuel it needs to compete on the field – then recover after the big race.
For Long Distance and Marathon Runners
The most common endurance sport in the US is long-distance running. The Paleo diet is good for runners of all distance – both weekend 5k runners to runners looking to compete in local marathons.
The Paleo diet may not allow carbs so pre-race meals like Spaghetti are not allowed but nuts and trail mix are good choices that are allowed on Paleo.
Cons of Paleo for Endurance Athletes
It is important to note that the Paleo diet does have some downsides. While carbs might not be ideal for the average person Endurance athletes have different dietary needs that need to accounted for. Since long distance athletes need energy over long periods of time – and are sure to burn off the extra calories – they need to find replacement food options.
Missing a pre race or workout meal can mean a disaster mid way through the event on a low carb diet.
What About Carbs?
One of the most common complaints about the Paleo diet from athletes is the lack of carbohydrates. Since grains are not allowed on Paleo it might seem tough to find replacement calories for these missing complex carbs.
It might seem like a big adjustment at first but over time your body will learn to use the calories provided by Paleo – rather than calories from bread, cereal, and noodles. We recommend eating foods like potatoes, carrots or almonds as a replacement.
Craving bread or noodles like Fettuccine Alfredo before the race? Quinoa and Cauliflower Rice are good replacements that offer similar taste and texture – plus they are super healthy!
Paleo Meal Plan for Endurance Athletes
Looking for a pre-made Paleo meal plan for the next week? Check out these Paleo meals for long-distance athletes – we recommend making a batch of the trail mix to snack on before, during, and after your workout!
- Almonds for a snack on the go
- Trail mix for extra energy while working out
- Baked Chicken for dinner and protein to recover
- Fruits and vegetables as a side for breakfast, lunch or dinner
- Grapefruit for breakfast
- Garbanzo beans as a side
- Beef jerky for a healthy dessert
Hi there! My name is Estelle and I am a Paleo Lover! I like helping other people learn about the health benefits of the paleo diet.