Many athletes are turning away from the traditional thinking of carb loading and embracing the paleo diet with great improvements in performance and endurance.
You’ll want to focus on low glycemic (foods that won’t spike your blood sugar) such as cantelope, grapefruit, apples, oranges, berries, sweet potatoes, nuts, salad greens and most veggies. Starchy carbohydrates are best saved for after your workout.
If you need to add some weight, add bulk to your smoothies such as steel cut oatmeal, chia seeds, flax seeds, and/or protein powder. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent low glycemic carbohydrate source for athletes and will help keep your blood sugar stable. Think beyond Thanksgiving. You can cube them and create a breakfast hash or use them as an easy side dish that will complement almost any meal.
Salmon is a health powerhouse. You’ll want to make it a staple of your diet and consume it at least a couple of times a week. Make sure you buy wild caught, and not farmed. If cost is a factor, you can find canned wild caught salmon at very reasonable prices in any supermarket. Add it to salads or make salmon patties. You can also find frozen salmon in the warehouse clubs (but check the ingredients.)
Always have some snacks ready. If you’re on the go, travel with some paleo beef jerky and trail mix in your bag. If you’re at home, have some snacks prepared such as grain free cookies made from almond or coconut flour, hard boiled eggs, and chicken or fish salad.
A big part of going the distance on a paleo diet is preparation. Always plan ahead. Keep some emergency meals on hand, a protein plus two veggie sides. Hamburgers and frozen fish are easy to freeze in single portions and you can take them out at the last minute.
Don’t get stuck in the rut of thinking that certain foods can only be eaten at certain times of the day. On a paleo diet, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat pork chops for breakfast if you’re getting sick of eggs.
Health experts recommend grass fed meat as optimal but if cost is a concern, just buy the leanest cuts of meat that are available to you. Big box stores are beginning to offer grass fed ground beef at reasonable prices. Keep these on hand to make burgers or meatballs. You can get a hot, paleo friendly meal on your plate in minutes.
Remember to consider your unique nutritional needs. There is no set way to do paleo. Some follow a more primal diet and add some dairy. Still others eat rice on occasion. Consider how your body is responding and how you feel. There is no “Paleo Police People” that are going to arrive at your door to tell you that you’re doing it wrong.