I stumbled across a blurb on twitter about the Paleo Diet and how it’s not designed for athletes to be successful. After an uproar of athletes wanting to follow this diet while being successful in their sport, Dr. Loren Cordain, decided to revise the diet. Originally grains were not an element of the Paleo Diet until now. Athletes are under the delusion that they need carbohydrates to be successful. This is a true statement up to a point, because we need a certain level of carbohydrates to maintain the brain’s function. Without the brain we can’t expect our body to follow right?
Most endurance athletes believe in the ritual of “Carb Loading.” Carb Loading is flooding the body with carbohydrates that will fill all the glycogen stores in the muscle, blood and liver. According to Runners World endurance athletes “should consume 8-10grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight.” For an athlete that weighs 80 kg would be 2560-3200 extra calories a day leading up to the competition. Dr. Loren Cordain now has adapted the Paleo Diet to incorporate grains to meet the demands of an endurance competition. My interpretation of the Paleo Diet is about eating what Earth provides and avoid what man makes. Even though grains are produced by the earth most are genetically modified organisms. GMO’s are products that have been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Their DNA could be manipulated to withstand drought or produce more of a crop. Either way man is maneuvering their way into what nature provides, so could this be good for our own body’s cellular life? Or is man (being a product of nature) an evolutionary progress that is suppose to happen? So, if man manipulates nature, does that work in our favor? Maybe, but also the Atomic Bomb is a recurring thought. Man took nature and made a monster that kills. Could GMO’s eventually cause cancers? What about Autism? Autism has increased significantly over the past 10 years. Could this be due to our wonderful crop that are nothing but GMO’s? Possibly, but I believe the culprit there is plastics. Let me get back on track before I go too far off topic that there is no way of getting back.
Are carbohydrates the most efficient thing we can consume to help increase our performance in endurance competitions? It’s a double edged sword. Other than creatine phosphate being our number one go to energy source the next step is glycogen. What about fat? I think people are opening up their minds to the power of fats and the Paleo Diet allows it’s participants to eat meats, nuts and fish all which would contain a certain amount of fat. Why not trying to use fat as the primary energy source? If an endurance athlete is at a constant intensity of 40-70% of max heart rate, the fuel used is fat, so why not ingest more fat?
A cup of pasta is roughly 212 calories, a teaspoon of Cod Liver Oil is roughly 40 calories and calories in butter is 34. So, 5 teaspoons of Cod Liver Oil would be 200 calories. My reason for saying this is because if you were to eat the amount of carbohydrates needed to obtain 3,200 calories you would feel bloated and full. If you could combine carbohydrates and fats then you are providing the body with the fuel sources needed for your competition while still feeling like an athlete. Of course you must have training weeks leading up to the competition where you strictly depend on fat as fuel so that the body can get use to using fat as the primary fuel source. One key note is that you will feel sluggish until the body gets use to the fuel source. Another good additive to your Paleo Diet is coconut oil. You can cook with it or you can just take spoon fulls of it before your workouts, it’s a great natural substitute to all the cooking oils that are being used today. The fat that surrounds the meats you eat, don’t cut it off, eat it! It’s there for a reason so eat it! That’s where the flavor is!
Along with your increased fat consumption, athletes should consume green tea extract or drink freshly brewed green tea (try sun-brewed technique) without any sweetener. Green tea extract has been found to help fat oxidize more productively. So, in simple terms it will be at your disposal as a fuel source that can be utilized efficiently.