Myth Buster: Going Paleo Will Improve My Running Performance
If you haven't heard about the Paleo diet yet, it's a way of eating that takes us back in time 2.5 million years to the Paleolithic era. The diet promotes eating like a caveman and of course it doesn't include crispy potato chips or my beloved dark chocolate, nor any grains, beans, starchy vegetables, or dairy! Going Paleo means consuming only lean meats, fish, eggs, plant-based fats, nuts, seeds, non-starchy vegetables, and fresh fruits.
Every athlete is looking for a way to enhance performance, and we cannot ignore the Paleo trend over recent years, as more and more athletes are boasting of its greatness boosting its popularity.
The Benefits of Grains, Beans & Dairy
Yes, we are unhealthier today with our way of eating than we were 50 years ago, but the health of humanity did not decline 10,000 years ago when humans started eating grains, beans, and dairy. Elimination of these food groups can make it challenging to get enough carbohydrates, calcium, carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, and B-vitamins which not only is necessary for health and longevity, but also proven best for optimal sports performance.
There is little research supporting the claims of the Paleo Diet, however there's a plethora of research on energy needs for athletic performance. It has been well documented that an athlete's preferred source of energy for exercise comes from carbohydrates, which is found in grains, starches, fruit, dairy, and even simple sugars. Athletes need salt and sugar during exercise, especially if you're running long distances.
Get Back to the Basics
I'm not saying you absolutely won't see faster running times and get more lean by eating like a caveman, as most people can benefit from cleaning up their diet. We too often rely on processed grains, added sugar, and high fat meats to sustain us. It's time we get back to the basics and eat whole foods most frequently. You can find a healthy balance with all food groups that will improve performance by eating whole grains, dairy, lean meats, healthy fats, and lots of fruits and vegetables.
I'd love to hear your thoughts, comments and questions! Tweet me @DietDivaTara
Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.