Unless you’ve been living in a cave these last few years, you must have heard of the Paleo diet. It’s been one of the most popular diets in the last few years, and has sparked much debate across the nutrition industry, with passionate proponents for and against the diet.
There is a positive correlation between people on the Paleo diet and those practicing CrossFit, showing that the diet and the sport work well together for most people. Here’s a look into what the Paleo diet is, how you can start following it, and how it could positively influence your CrossFit performance.
What is The Paleo Diet?
Also known as the “Caveman Diet”, Paleo principles dictate that you eat foods similar to what our Paleolithic ancestors might have had on hand. The premise behind this “lifestyle” is that our genetics have not evolved fast enough to keep up with the changes in our food supply, and opting for grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, fruits, vegetables, fungi, roots, nuts and fats is the only way to keep our bodies healthy. It excludes grains, dairy products, legumes, potatoes, refined sugars, refined salt and processed oils from the allowed food list.
Here’s How To Get Started.
Jumping into a Paleo lifestyle head-first isn’t for everyone. The most recommended way is to ease yourself into the lifestyle.
- Start by cutting out processed foods from your diet over a few weeks. While there are many definitions of what “processed food” includes, start with products that have ingredients you cannot pronounce.
- Start with one “Paleo” meal a day.
- Go online and find recipes for Paleo meals and desserts
- Stop buying non-Paleo food items once they run out in your pantry
- Plan your meals ahead of time. One common habit in the Paleo community is to cook meals, or components of meals, ahead of time and store them in the freezer. You’ll be less tempted to order in if you already have a cooked meal in the freezer.
Be Ready For An Adjustment Period
Most of the Paleo community tries to abide by an 80/20 rule during transition. This means you eat strict Paleo at least 80% of the time after the first few months. Most people stop eating processed meals once they have made the switch to Paleo as there is a significant change in energy levels, general well-being, and even weight loss (if you’re trying to lose weight) once you change your diet.
You will also note changes in your digestive system, mostly for the better. Once dairy and grains are cut out of the diet, problems like IBS that plague athletes disappear over time.
Most CrossFit athletes find that when eating Paleo, a 40 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent protein, 30 percent fat ratio works best for them. Adjusting your carbohydrate intake over time will help you discover the best levels to maintain for consistent performance during CrossFit workouts, but proper pre and post-workout meals will considerably help improve performance.
Rules To Live By
Paleo is a simple diet to follow, and easy to plan meals around. Keep these few rules in mind when you’re planning your meals for the week.
- Focus on eating high amounts of animal protein,
- Eat good carbohydrates, in moderate amounts,
- Get a lot of fiber from non-starchy vegetables and fruits,
- Eat some fat, focusing on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats,
- Eat foods low in sodium and high in potassium,
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Watch the video below for ideas on how to plan your Paleo meals for the week.
How A CrossFit Paleo Diet Improves Performance
Different athletes have different energy requirements during their workouts. However, they all need to optimize performance during the workout, and recovery after the workout. The Paleo diet is perfect for CrossFit enthusiasts because the lean protein sources you will consume are extremely important for rapid recovery after a hard training session. Since the Paleo diet focuses heavily on protein sources, and most of your meals will include that, this works well into you pre-workout nutrition.
Post workout nutrition should include sources of carbohydrates to build up the muscle glycogen stores used up during the workout. On a Paleo diet these would include starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, yams, or fruit.
Power athletes, specifically, will benefit from a higher intake of Paleo friendly carbohydrates once or twice a week. This helps keep body fat levels low, while providing the energy needed to get through tough workouts.
The Paleo lifestyle can significantly improve your health, and many CrossFit athletes opt for the simple, minimalist diet for an improved athletic performance. While it can seem overwhelming to start with, the Paleo diet is actually a no-frills diet that is simple and easy to follow for anyone looking to cut processed foods out of their life and become more in tune with their body’s nutritional requirements.
To get started learning on how to create Paleo meals, check out Paleo In A Kitchen, The Ultimate Caveman Cooking Masterclass. And if you’re already an athlete, and you want to take your game to the next level, check out Paleo In A Box – Performance Nutrition System For Athletes.