Nowadays, people are shifting more and more toward healthy lifestyle choices. Some are content with giving up their vices, while others want to go all out with modern diets and workout routines. And in that mix, one of the trendiest meal plans of the last decades surely has to be the Paleo diet.
Short for Paleolithic, eating the Paleo way basically involves stacking up only on foods that cavemen used to eat. Not only does this mean that nothing processed is allowed, but it also entails eating only foods that man ate prior to the Neolithic Revolution. These usually include fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts and roots, forbid oils, sugar, salt, legumes, coffee, and even dairy products. However, there is a lot of wiggle room here. While this particular approach might sound highly restrictive at first, you can actually put together a lot of diverse meals from the ingredients accepted by it.
But does the Paleo diet help with weight loss like you’d commonly be led to believe? Well, there is no simple answer to that. Our weight is indirectly controlled by a hormone called leptin, which lets your brain know that the body is hungry. When something goes wrong in this network, overeating occurs. Obesity is the number one outcome of leptin resistance. Studies show that this condition develops due to high levels of sugar ingestion, which means that the Paleo diet is actually a solution for it. Another meal plan that can help is called the “leptin diet,” developed by Byron J. Richards, and it is becoming increasingly popular among people wishing to reach their body mass goals due to its restrictive nature.
But what you should know about the leptin diet is that, while it has a lot in common with Paleo, their endgame is completely different. This is why the former is more suited for weight loss, while the latter claims to cater perfectly towards athletes. But is that really true? So does the Paleo way of life improve upon workout performance, or does it impact it?
Effects on Workout Performance
Depending on which type of sport you practice, the way you eat will differ. For example, surfers tend to have different regimens than swimmers, and swimmers’ meals differ from those of marathon runners, and so on. So, who can benefit from the Paleo diet, realistically speaking?
Ironman triathlon runner Nell Stephenson discovered the benefits of the Paleo diet on her career way back in 2004. In her specific training, she discovered that she not only felt better physically, but she was also able to train with a higher stress load. There was a catch, though. Quickly processed carbs such as sports drinks are still necessary before long races. Besides that exception, the Paleo diet is perfectly able to sustain the caloric and proteinic needs of an athlete well into rounds of supplementary exercise. This happens due to a greater micronutrient content than that found in other types of meal plans.
A common misconception about eating like cavemen and performing in sports is that this type of food doesn’t give you enough carbs. As you very well know by now, athletes require a lot more of those to recover. But there are amazing sources of carbs to be found within the dedicated list of acceptable foods, and they include vegetables, sweet potatoes, plantains, yams, onions, and cassava, among others. Furthermore, a supplement here and there is also allowed when the need for it arises. As previously mentioned, this lifestyle isn’t as strict as others, so you can find a solution anytime.
Although many were led to believe otherwise, the Paleo diet provides athletes with a perfectly sustainable lifestyle that has the potential to improve their performance. Depending on one’s body type and the type of activity they undertake, eating like people used to many, many years ago can be a huge leap forward. However, athletes need to be aware of their carb intake.