FOR MANY PEOPLE, PALEODIET AND SPORT ARE NOT COMPATIBLE. BUT PHYSICAL ACTIVITY EATING LIKE OUR CAVE GREAT-GREAT-GRANDPARENTS CAN BE HEALTHY AND REWARDING IF WE MAKE A SMALL EXCEPTION TO THE RULE. HERE’S HOW.
The paleodiet or paleolithic diet is based on the idea that our organism is genetically adapted to the type of food that our ancestors took from the paleolithic era. And that, therefore, we can improve our health if we replicate the way they eat.
What was the Stone Age menu like? Before the birth of agriculture that came with the Neolithic, human beings were hunter-gatherers. This means that he was basically fed on fats and proteins of animal origin and on fibres. And that it hardly consumed carbohydrates.
That is why the palodiet is composed mainly of meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and roots. And it avoids grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugars and processed oils.
But what about carbohydrates?
That is the question that is asked before the palodieta those who habitually practice some sport or spend hours in the gymnasium. It is not in vain that we have always been told that carbohydrates are vital for tackling serious sports training with sufficient energy.
That’s why at first glance the paleolithic diet seems unreliable if you want to get a good performance. And that paleodiet and sport, in the eyes of many, seem incompatible practices.
However, there are also those who insist that the Palaeolithic diet offers benefits for athletes. Even for the elite. What would those benefits be?
Paleo diet and sport: the keys
Branched Amino Acids
When practicing the paleodiet, higher amounts of lean proteins are consumed and, as a consequence, more BCAAs or branched-chain amino acids (valine, leucine and isoleucine). These are essential for protein synthesis and stimulate the formation and repair of muscle tissue. In fact, today they are very fashionable as a supplement for muscle recovery.
According to advocates of combining paleodiet and sport, eating more lean meats with BCAAs can recover the muscle before and train with greater intensity in the next session. And make the supply of carbohydrates is not so necessary.
What are the best sources of BCAAs?
- As we have said, lean meats or meats with high protein content and very little fat. These include turkey, chicken, rabbit, and some parts of pork or beef. A serving of 1,000 calories of lean beef provides 33.7 grams of BCAAs.
- Also fish. A portion of 1,000 calories gives you 28.3 g of BCAAs.
- Egg white is the food with the highest BCAA content (4,343 mg per 100 calories). But watch out: it should not be abused because it contains avidin, an anti-vitamin that can cause a deficiency of Biotin.
If you want to maintain muscle mass and not have osteoporosis problems is important to avoid the acidity of the blood.
The palaeolithic diet may seem acidifying as it contains many foods of animal origin. But, according to its defenders, if we consume quality meats with branched amino acids in combination with abundant fruit and vegetables and avoid salt, sugars and processed cereals we can achieve a good acid-base balance.
This would boost both our immune system and the formation of strong muscles and bones.
Vitamins, minerals and trace nutrients
When you follow the paleodieta you eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are one of the best sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidant phyto-chemicals. All of them, in combination with zinc, iron and vitamin B12 from meats and omega-3 from fish would form a very complete diet, which would help the functioning of our immune system.
Replenish glycogen right after training
The secret so that people who want to combine paleodieta and sport can do it successfully and feeling full of energy is in not being completely strict with the subject of carbohydrates.
To avoid fatigue, overtraining syndrome and lowering of defenses it is advisable to eat carbohydrates within 45 minutes after training. This is because the synthesis that replenishes muscle glycogen is produced above all just after exercise.
The best sources of hydrates typical of the palodiet would be dried fruits such as raisins, apricots and plums (which have an alkaline effect) and starches from bananas, potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams.
But there are also some authors who defend the idea of introducing “non-paleolithic” foods in those moments of sports practice. There we would find sugars such as glucose or maltodextrins, gels, energy drinks and bars, and so on.
…The solution for the paleo-sportsman may simply be to accept that this style of feeding is sometimes not enough to meet your needs, and that you need to adjust it a little. Palette and sport can go hand in hand, but only if we are a little flexible with what we eat.
With this article we do not intend to defend the paleodiet. Our aim is just to point out some of the virtues that, according to some of his followers, can offer for athletes.
And, as we always say, don’t hesitate to consult a nutrition specialist about any substantial change you want to make to your diet. Your body will thank you.
Setting aside exercise and physical activity in daily life and maintaining mainly sedentary lifestyle habits is error number 1. You can lose weight or maintain weight only through diet, but the process will be slower, more difficult to maintain in the long term and also less beneficial to overall health, as you will also lose muscle mass in addition to body fat.
Physical activity and nutrition go hand in hand when it comes to establishing an adequate weight and a good state of health, and the most normal thing is not to separate the two disciplines unless there are physical complications or diseases that prevent or hinder physical exercise. You can consult our training at home section to get an idea of how easy it is to practice exercise without leaving your home with the plans proposed by our personal trainers.
To fall into the false belief that whole foods, light or without added sugars, because they are “healthy” food, can be eaten without restrictions or that simply by eating them, the effect of magically losing weight is produced, is another very common error. And there is nothing further from the truth.