What Is The Paleo Diet And Is It Suitable For Female Runners?
Have you heard of the Paleo diet? What is this way of eating, and is it suitable for women runners? We find out.
What do you typically eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Cereal, toast and fruit juice for breakfast (or that runner’s favourite: porridge)? A sandwich for lunch? And pasta or rice with a home-cooked meal for dinner?
Latest thinking in the field of nutrition suggests that the foods we’ve traditionally made staple parts of our daily diets in the past few hundred years may not be doing us many favours. The Paleo diet (also sometimes known as Primal eating) has emerged as a better alternative. But is it really best for busy female runners who need to run, recover and perform well?
What Is The Paleo Diet?
Put simply, the Paleo way of eating suggests we eat like our caveman ancestors. So out go anything processed and manmade, and also anything which is the product of the industrialisation of food: dairy, grains and so on. It’s low sugar and low starch, but not necessarily low-carb (this is where many people misinterpret it).
What Can You Eat On A Paleo Diet?
Eggs, meat, fish, vegetables (including potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes and starchy root vegetables), fruits, berries, herbs, spices.
And What Can’t You Eat On A Paleo Diet? Rice (although some Paleo eaters do eat rice), bread, cous cous, biscuits and crackers, pasta, grains (including oats), dairy products, things with added sugar, processed and packaged foods.
Why Might A Paleo Diet Be Good For Female Runners?
Eating a very natural diet full of real, one-ingredient foods which haven’t been tampered with by manufacturing processes means your body will get more of the micronutrients it needs. More vitamins, more anti oxidants and more fibre. And there is some evidence to suggest that eating this Paleo way will slowly teach your body to use more stored fat for fuel, leading to a leaner body and better blood-sugar management.
And Why Might It Not Suit You?
It’s hard to argue with a nutrition approach which is high in fresh, seasonal, “real” foods. But the Paleo diet might not suit you if you struggle to prepare and cook meals and snacks due to time constraints, or if the new approach to eating means you’re just not getting enough calories and carbohydrates. Another consideration is the high-fibre aspect of this very natural way of eating. Your post-training and post-race meals and snacks might need to veer away from true Paleo to help your body digest and absorb what it needs quickly. The important thing to remember is that it’s not a low-carb or low-calorie diet. You are just swapping out foods for better choices, but can keep your carbohydrate, fat, protein and calorie levels the same.
But if you fancy giving it a go, to see if it could calm digestive issues, help you recover better, and give your body a boost of real-food nutrients, there are plenty of resources out there to help you make a gradual change. We can blog about this topic again if you’re interested – just let us know.