The benefits of the Paleo Diet for exercise

Whether you want to push your body and reach new levels of performance, lose weight or build up more muscle mass while gaining definition, diet is beneficial for success.

The Paleo diet basics are quite simple, eat clean and eat while. It is essentially a high protein diet which means that you’ll be able to build lean, useful muscles that will aid in your physical performance. The basic outcome of Dr Loren Cordain’s research on Paleo nutrition is that certain foods are optimal for humans while others are not. The optimal foods are those that we have been eating for most of our time as a race and the non-optimal foods are those that have only been around for a short time.

The diet recommends eating food that is based on the Paleolithic Age, i.e. food that was hunted, gathered and foraged by our ancestors. Basically, they did not forage for pastries, donuts or potato chips, but instead their diet consisted of non-processed, dye-free, hormone-free and nutrient rich foods. Their food sources were free-range, vitamin rich and life giving. – D. Levi Harrison, MD – Orthopaedic Surgeon and Fitness expert.

The Paleo food groups consist of the following:

  • Lean meats
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Healthy Fats

And substantially reduces the intake of:

  • Processed foods
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Refined foods
  • Saturated/Trans fats
  • White flour


It has been shown that the Paleo diet can significantly improve the health of athletes over a long term. It:

  • Counteracts immunosuppression which can be common in endurance athletes by providing a lot of vitamins, antioxidants and energy to keep the immune system strong.
  • Increases the intake of branched chain amino acids (BCAA) and benefits muscle development and anabolic function.
  • Reduces tissue inflammation, while promoting healing.
  • Restores natural gastric flora and improves digestion.
  • Balances PH levels by lowering the effect of acidosis on bone and muscle while stimulating muscle protein synthesis.
  • Increases fat oxidation which helps in endurance events.
  • Helps retain and recover muscles better 
  • Improved LDL/HDL triglyceride profiles

With reference to the list above, it’s easy to see why the Paleo diet is a great choice for Athletes and in particular increasing their performance. If you decide to follow the diet, remember to include complex carbohydrates from Paleo-approved sources such as fruits and vegetables.

Calorie-dense foods like nuts, avocados, coconuts and oily fish help to replenish any calories lost if your choice of sport sustains an high energy output.

Try Paleo for three weeks and you may be amazed at the difference in how you feel and the way you’re able to compete on and off the field.