Paleo Diet, Modified for
Endurance Athletes from Rich Straus -
I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Loren
Cordain present his Paleo Diet at my Ultrafit training weekend. As some
of you may know, his theories have been getting a lot attention among endurance
athletes, largely due to Gordos active
participation in the discussion. The following is my long over-due
nutrition advice to you, based on personal experience, discussions with Ellen
and the UF coaches, and Dr Cordains
presentation. I will break this down to the most essential elements, then
we can discuss the particulars.
achieving your optimal body composition (% fat to % muscle), not a goal
weight. Optimal body composition yields a healthy balance between
performance and recovery: too much fat or muscle mass decreases performance, as
you must lug it around the course. Too lean decreases your recovery, as
your body suffers from an extremely low % body fat.
Rather than avoid foods, make good food choices
Your key to achieving optimal body composition is focusing on making
good food choices, rather than avoiding foods. Focus on what to eat
vs what NOT to eat. This is a subtle but
Apply the Geekometer to your diet: How geeked-out to do you need (or want) to be?
Form a realistic plan based on what you know about your ability to
follow through with a nutritional plan. Set realistic expectations for
yourself. Remember that an 80% plan executed with conviction and
consistency is better than a 100% plan poorly executed. Dont beat
yourself up if you slip from time to time. Do the best you can.
I condense the
Paleo Diet to these ideas:
As homo sapiens,
we are genetically adapted to a hunter gatherer diet. The introduction of
domesticated animals, agriculture, and processed foods are very recent
developments in the scope of evolutionary history. As such, our bodies
are not adapted to a diet derived from these technological development.
A proper homo
sapien diet replicates the diet of our
To follow this diet,
- Eat plenty of
lean meats (fish, poultry, lean beef, wild game)
- Eat plenty of
fruits and vegetables
- Avoid dairy
- Avoid starches
and sugars (breads, grains, etc)
- Avoid processed
Paleo Diet, Endurance Athlete Modified
Condain says that we are genetically suited for
this diet. However, our ancient ancestors seldom did 2 hour runs and 6
hour bikes. Certainly, they had periods of intense activity, but these
where relatively brief and spaced apart. This diet is not well-suited to the
needs of endurance athletes: to fuel optimum performance and recovery, so the
activity can be repeated after a relatively short time, again and again.
Cordain recognized this in his presentation. In fact, he and Joe
are working on a book that will adapt the ideas of the Paleo Diet to the needs of endurance athletes. This
is where Gordos ideas are particularly
valuable. He has begun to apply the Paleo
Diet and has modified it to serve the unique requirements of endurance
Gordo distills these ideas
to what he calls the Key Three:
- Majority of
nutrition from whole fruits, lean protein and fresh veggies.
- Starch and sugar
only during and after training.
- Eliminate as
much processed food as possible.
#2 is the break from the
strict Paleo Diet, in order to satisfy the need to
quickly replace glycogen stores after exercise. This ensures the athlete
is ready to repeat the activity within a relatively short time.
In summary, Ill
present the Team Crucible Six:
- Focus on
achieving an optimal body composition that is a good balance between
performance and recovery.
- Make good food
choices rather than avoid foods.
- Make a plan, and
measure it with the Geekometer. Do the best
you can to follow your plan, not beating yourself if you stumble from time to
- Get the majority
of your nutrition from whole fruits, lean protein and fresh veggies.
- Limit starch and
sugar to during and after training.
- Eliminate as much
processed food as possible.