The paleo diet is based on the dietary habits of the ancient hunters and gatherers. It’s a way of eating that’s meant to reduce the amount of processed and refined foods that traditionally are part of the typical American diet. Based on whole foods such as unprocessed meats, organic fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, the paleo diet has helped many people improve their health, lose weight, and maximize athletic performance.

In order to maintain consistency in your diet, you should develop pre and post workout meals that are compatible with your paleo diet. You don’t want to undo your good efforts by indulging in snacks that may have a lot of sugar and be highly processed.

Protein is an essential part of both your pre and post workout meals. Beef jerky, trail mix and hardboiled eggs are easily transportable to the gym. For a quick boost of energy, use coconut oil when making your pre-workout meal. For example, you can make trail mix from coconut oil or bring it to room temperature and add to a high protein smoothie. It will help you to stay full and many say that it can aid weight loss.

Opinions vary on what a pre-workout meal should look like. Some people recommend the pre-workout meal consist of carbs, protein, and fat while others think it should consist of just protein and either carbs or fat.

One idea is four ounces of grilled lean meat with some steamed vegetables on the side. Another idea is deli meat such as turkey or roast beef along with some fermented pickles. You might also want to consider a green smoothie.

After a hard workout, you will use up the nutrients stored up in your body as well as the calories you’ve consumed before the workout. Your post workout meal should have both carbs and protein. Ideally you should consume your snack 15 minutes after your workout, and at the very most within 30 minutes to help restore your protein, glycogen and carbohydrate levels.

Another reason you want to eat your post workout meal immediately is because you are more insulin sensitive within the first 15-30 minutes. Avoid fats in your meal, they can slow digestion.

Avoid too much sugar in fruit for your post workout meal, the glucose will go to your liver and not to your muscles where the repair and recovery is most needed. Don’t neglect carbs, they are an important part of recovery. Ideal carbohydrates include sweet potatoes, plantain chips and bananas. Some say that a baked potato is acceptable but as with other food sources, organic is always best.

If you’re eating on the run, protein ideas for easy portability are canned tuna or chicken, beef jerky, hard sausage or pepperoni.