Paleo Diet for Athletes

The diet's philosophy is very simple:

'Consume the types of foods that the human body evolved to consume.'

In the words of the diet's founder:

'The optimal diet for the athlete is the same one that we as Homo sapiens have thrived on for nearly all of our existence on this planet - a Paleo diet, albeit on slightly modified to meet the unique demands of athletes.'

The Paleo Diet:

The Paleo diet follows a low carbohydrate, high protein plan and also takes into account the need for glycogen restoration after exercise.

This diet is very different from the traditional high carbohydrate diets that was espoused by a lot of trainers. The diet is founded on the consumption of healthful fruits, veggies, nuts, lean meats and seafood.

Dietary strategies are intended to increase performance and overall health and not an immediate weight-loss diet though followers do lose fat and gain muscle quickly.

In order to perform a high impact workout you must have heaps of energy to expend and the Paleo diet provides just this.

The Paleo diet is founded on absolute wholefoods and can provide a competitive edge when it comes to working out as it allows for greater muscle build up with decreased recovery times and thus increased performance. Scientific studies continue to demonstrate its safety and efficiency.

The Paleo diet doesn't follow the rules put in place by modern diets like calorie counting and portion controlling. Protein is the key ingredient in the diet and should be consumed in generous proportions to ensure maximum muscle growth. 

Vegetables are vital in all diets and is no different in the Paleo diets, either fresh or frozen. They should be eaten with every meal. Fruits and nuts contain vital fats and vitamins and should be consumed in amounts that you, as an athlete see fit to eat.

Benefits of the Paleo Diet

  1. Eating more wholefoods is great for the body.
  2. Cutting back on processed foods is very important.
  3. Limiting alcohol and sugar is a healthy way of living. 

The Paleo diet ultimately encourages focusing on foods that nourish and fuel your body and eating this way realigns ourselves with the evolutionary processes that shaped our bodies.

  • Modern studies of people following a Paleo lifestyle have suggested the following:
  • Reduced body fat
  • Reduced LDL cholesterol (bad) and increased HDL cholesterol (good)
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved markers of Type 2 diabetes.

Paleo's Competitive Edge

The Paleo diet for Athletes offers a competitive edge for followers. The diet maximizes athletic performance as Researchers found this way of eating to be 'ergogenic'. This term is used by exercise physiologists to describe nutritional supplements that can enhance athletic performance. The diet is high in animal protein, which is the richest source of the branched-chain amino acids:

  • Valine
  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine

These are potent natural stimulants for building and repairing muscle and provide the building blocks for muscle growth and repair, essential to all serious athletes.

The diet also offers other benefits:

  • It prevents muscle protein breakdown because it produces a net metabolic alkalosis. Most foods eaten nowadays are acidic based. To neutralize an acidic diet, the  body breaks down muscle tissue which isn't good for athletes wanting to build up muscle stores. Since the Paleo diet is net-alkaline, the body has no need to break down muscle tissue.
  • It protects health. All the fruits and vegetables provide a rich array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals which promote the healthy function of the immune system. Researchers have found that the frequency and duration of colds, flu and upper respiratory illnesses are reduced when a Paleo diet is adopted.

Diet Regimen

Foods barred from the Paleo diet include:

  • Grains
  • Dairy products
  • Legumes
  • Alcohol
  • Soy
  • Refined sugars and basically all processed foods
  • Fatty meats


Remember that the Paleo diet encourages eating a lot of vegetables which are a source of carbohydrates but not as high as other sources.

There is not a big difference between eating for health and eating for athletic performance. The Paleo diet and lifestyle works because it encourages us to focus on eating natural, unprocessed ingredients - things our bodies can process really easily and won’t bloat or drain us.