Paleo for Athletes

Answered on May 15, 2014
Created May 15, 2014 at 8:24 AM

Hey everyone. I recently bought a book on Paleo for Athletes but when you read it, it's not what you thought. It states high carb for race days including things that I'd never have in my house let alone my body, gels and sports drinks etc. I'm confused because I have been going over my old school books and it states that fat is also used for energy and has double the amount than carbohydrates. If we store carbohydrates as glycogen for energy then what do we do with fat for energy? Surely there must be a way to tap into this better energy source? For me 'tapping' paleo diet for anything is NOT paleo at all.

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2 Answers



on May 15, 2014
at 12:52 PM

Fat is the body's preferred fuel for storing because of it's energy density. But Carbohydrates are the body's preferred fuel for burning. We can generate more energy, more quickly converting carbs than we can by converting fat. This is why the brain and muscles run on glucose. Yes, the body can adapt to using ketones, and yes the brain can adapt to using ketones. But no one is as efficent.

So for serious athletes, you need to carb-up. You can play around with timing. When I coached distance runners, I would have them carb-up with glucose dominate carbohydrates an hour before and right after a workout, then again 2 hours before dinner. Then 2 hours and 1 hour before a race.

The pre-workout carb-up is for energy. The post-workout carb-up is for recovery and glycogen replenishment. The night-time is to ensure the glycogen stores are full.

When I say carb-up, I am talking 30-50g, not 200g. So my athletes would tend to consume between 90-200g of carbs per day. In my opinion, and based on my experience, you cannot execute glycogen depleating exercises at peak efficency at less than 90g per day, and 150g is the sweet spot for most people.

If you are a weekend-warrior type and don't care if your performance is not 100% (for example, you are happy to finish a 5k not looking to set major PR), you can go as low as 50-75g per day. But lower than that and you will start to wear down.



on May 15, 2014
at 11:58 AM

I havent read the book yet, but let me just comment on the high-carb race day:

The reason is "train low, race high". This means when training you train on a depleted state, you will train a little slower, but you will have more benefits than training with high glycogen stores. On race day you will need everything that you have, hence you will fill the glycogen stores and race like crazy.

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