The paleo diet is modeled after what hunter-gatherers would have eaten thousands of years ago. While this varies from region to region, aiming to eat whole foods while maintaining a physically active lifestyle are the biggest goals of the paleo diet.
Foods to Eat on the Paleo Diet:
- Meats, including fish
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Herbs and spices
- Healthy fats and oils
- Tea and coffee
Foods to Avoid on the Paleo Diet:
- Processed foods
- Sugars and artificial sweeteners
- Soft drinks
- Grains, which includes bread and pastas
- Most dairy products
- Vegetable oils
- Any trans fats
Related: Best Superfoods For Runners
When was the Paleo Diet Invented?
Gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin floated the idea of a paleolithic diet in the 1970s with the idea that if cavemen didn’t eat it, we shouldn’t eat it either. It gained popularity in the early 2000s, with the publication of the book The Paleo Diet, which highlighted all the health benefits of the diet.
Is the Paleo Diet good for Runners?
Given that carbs tend to be a staple for runners, the paleo diet can be a hard switch. However, the increase of fruits and vegetables can help keep swelling down, and eating more meat provides more amino acids that speed up recovery after long or fast runs.
But most experts agree that the lack of carbs is the biggest drawback for runners. Some even say to cheat during runs and immediately after, by consuming sports drinks, rice, potatoes, pasta, or a bagel. However, when not running, to still avoid these foods.
Benefits of the Paleo Diet
By cutting out sugars and other processed foods, you can lower your blood pressure, regulate your blood sugar, and lose weight. Many doctors and nutritionists believe that the paleo diet can reduce ailments such as Crohn’s, diabetes, indigestion, and obesity.
Drawbacks of the Paleo Diet
If you don’t take advantage of all of the allowed foods on the paleo diet, you can end up with an unbalanced diet. The human body needs lots of different types of foods to be healthy.
Additionally, eating too much meat just because it is allowed on the modern paleo diet, can be detrimental because modern meat tends to be higher in saturated fat than it would have been thousands of years ago.
Another thing to be watchful of is that by cutting out grains and most dairy, you might be missing out on necessary fiber and vitamins that you would otherwise get from those foods.
Will the Paleo Diet Help me Lose Weight?
The combination of eating whole foods and being active can lead to weight loss, even without calorie counting. The increased amount of protein can increase metabolism and reduce appetite, both of which are linked to weight loss.
Additionally, because the paleo diet is low in carbs, the reduced carb intake can help with weight loss. Note that some fruits and vegetables will still have carbs, but cutting out all carbs isn’t the goal, just the processed ones.
Eliminating processed foods and added sugars are a big help in cutting back on obesity.
Is the Paleo Diet Hard to Adhere to Long-Term?
For people with a supremely active lifestyle, such as runners or construction workers, paleo can be incredibly difficult to keep up with because the lack of carbs can make them sick over a long period of time.
What is the Biggest Macronutrient I Have to Minimize While on the Paleo Diet?
The biggest thing you’ll need to cut back on with the Paleo diet is carbs. Pasta, bagels, and cereal are some of the biggest no-nos on the paleo diet. You can still achieve carbs through fruits and vegetables, but getting them from grains and sugars is not a part of the paleo diet.
Are There any Side Effects to the Paleo Diet?
The biggest side effects to the paleo diet are the low-carb flu (which typically will go away within the first month), low blood sugar, sugar cravings, and changes in bowel movements. If you already have issues with blood sugar and are taking any medications, you will want to speak with your doctor about how to mitigate them.
What Other Diets are Popular for Runners Besides the Paleo Diet?
Some runners find that the paleo diet really does not work for them and they look to other diets to keep themselves healthy and to keep the weight off. Other diets to consider are the vegetarian diet, the keto diet, and the Mediterranean diet.
The key staple of the vegetarian diet is to not eat meat. Some vegetarians go so far as to not eat any animal byproducts whatsoever, but for the most part, it is just to avoid meat.
By eating a plant-based diet, you can mitigate a lot of health issues caused by eating too much meat. But the vegetarian diet isn’t necessary 100% healthy because it allows for junk foods.
Runners on the vegetarian diet will still need to make smart food choices within the vegetarian diet to stay healthy.
The keto diet is based on achieving a very specific set of macronutrients. The goal is to keep protein intake around 15%, healthy fat around 80%, and then carbs at less than 5%. Some people add more vegetables and change the macros to increase protein up to 30% and carbs up to 15%, so long as they stay under 75 grams in total.
Runners using a keto diet will have to do a lot of prep work to stay on the keto diet and not get sick from any sort of deficiencies.
Related: Is the Keto Diet Good for runners?
The Mediterranean diet is rich in grains and legumes, both of which are huge sources of carbs, which runners use to refuel. It is perhaps the easiest one for runners to keep up with on that fact alone. This diet focuses a lot on eating meals with a variety of nutrients as well as staying mentally healthy with a good relationship to food.
What are the Key Differences Between the Vegetarian, Keto, Paleo, and Mediterranean Diets?
In short, vegetarian, paleo, and Mediterranean diets encourage lots of fruits and vegetables. Keto can include more vegetables with modification. Keto, paleo, and Mediterranean diets allow for meat in some form. Vegetarian and Mediterranean diets have no restrictions on carbs.
In conclusion, all of these diets have their benefits, but a lot depends on the individual.
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