Fueling Workouts on Paleo

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 18, 2012 at 6:03 AM

For someone who keeps their carbohydrate low at all times other then before a workout, is there a substantial difference between fueling with fruit and it's fructose, or sweet potato and its starchy glucose?

For example; 5 x 1km intervals, might throw down 3 apples (-75g ish) vs 400g sweet potato (-80g).

I realise fructose has been dogmatised somewhat but I have been experimenting lately and have been finding not alot of difference between fruit or starchy carbs. I also understand that glucose is preferential post workout to target the muscles over the liver, but I'm looking for the carbs for fuel and not really recovery.

Would be interested in hearing people's opinions and any science behind which is better.

UPDATE (For Context) I am an athlete who trains hard twice a day. I have also visibly leaned out since reintroducing carbs after coming off a period of vlc trying to fuel training with coconut cream.



on April 18, 2012
at 09:52 PM

I'm also starting to lean out after a while of VLC while using coconut oil for fuel... sweet potatos are fantastic fuel sources IMO. And I think the leaning out has something to do with cortisol issues from not getting enough carbs? Anyway, interesting question.

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5 Answers



on April 18, 2012
at 11:30 AM

I find that for ME fruit such as bananas work a lot better in terms of energy after a hard workout for me than starchy carbs such as yams with sweet potato being an exception to that rule.

But I agree with Primal Danny that you have to try and see what works better for you as we are so so different as I am learning on this very site after trying so many different things. For example I only discovered very recently that yams make me tired and that I function so much better in that middle ground between empty stomach and real hunger.


on April 18, 2012
at 11:02 AM

To be honest the majority of my fuel over that kind of distance is coming from the fat I've handily stored. If looking to eat prior to working out though I'd go more towards what I could digest most comfortably. There's plenty of science to look at where the carbs are more likely to go in each case, and how fast, and how that will affect a hundred other things but it is at best unclear and more often contradictory. You can find support and an explanation for any approach you choose.

So go with what works best for you. I generally eat more fruit than starch, and if I were ever trying to ram in carbs right before heading out I'd go for sugars. But I really don't structure my food enough to say. Why not alternate and enjoy two nice foods?



on April 27, 2012
at 01:44 PM

I'm considering iskiate (chia fresca)

it works for ultra-distance runners so i figure it should do the trick. pre-paleo i just downed "goo" packs



on April 18, 2012
at 11:11 PM

Starch (glucose) is more readily converted to glycogen, if memory serves.


on April 18, 2012
at 09:41 PM

Sweet potatoes for me, but I am fruit intolerant anyway. I think the starch would be better than the burst of sugar.

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