Paleo eating as an endurance/ironman athlete!
I began following the Paleo eating plan five years ago after discovering I had a latent allergy to gluten. Out the door went nearly EVERYTHING that I’d included in my training regime: pasta, bagels, many of the nutrition bars. While I felt much better after cutting gluten, and subsequently omitting all of the non-foods in order to be strictly paleo, which include ALL grains, legumes and dairy, I felt a little challenged about what on earth I’d eat to live, let alone to support my ironman and ultra running training. At that point, I’d only read The Paleo Diet. I picked up a copy of The Paleo Diet for Athletes and everything became quite clear.
It described how Joe Friel tried, albeit skeptically, to follow this diet and found to his surprise that not only did it sustain his training, but he was able to conduct more intense sessions and recovery more quickly and properly.
I gave it a try myself and after a few false starts, it was smooth sailing and there’s NO going back. I can’t remember the last time I had any stomach issues in training or in a race. I never bonk. My times have improved tremendously (my first IM, back in the pre- Paleo in 2001, was over 15:00. Now I’m heading to my 4th Kona and planning to break my PR with a 10:30.) My recovery is phenomenal. My sleep is fantastic. I’m rarely sick or injured. I could go on and on.
“So, what do you eat, then?” is a question I’m quite commonly asked. Lots of clients, friends, family and readers of my blog have the misconception that a) it’s a really extreme way of eating and b) they can grasp that a sedentary person might be able to get away with it, but cannot fathom that it could support endurance training due to its low (or ‘zero’(?)) carb intake, the latter of which is obviously not true, as I’m eating lots of carbs via veggies and fruit, and with yam, my starch of choice, when prepping for a longer session or race.
Here’s the answer: “I eat FOOD. REAL food. WHOLE food. Nothing from a mix or preserved with any number of chemicals.” Aside from my pre & post training meals, all dining is a balance of healthy complex carbs (via fruit & veggies), lean proteins and healthy fats. Closer to the time of a workout, the shift is toward a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate: protein, such as a fresh banana with some hard-boiled egg whites, for example. But don’t take my word for all of this, here is a typical client testimonial.
“Now I’m training for IM Cozumel 2010, IM China 2011, wired to win a slot for IM Hawaii 2011. Paleo is part of my life. My weight is 72 kg - 9% fat, stable, feeling great (never hungry) and without injuries. My performance & daily level of energy are the synergy of Paleo & smart training."
Check out my previous article introducing the Paleo diet - http://fitnessinventor.com/articles/560
And feel free to join my group and ask me any further questions on fitnessinventor.com.
Paleo Nutritional & Fitness Counselor
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