What Are The Pros And Cons Of A Paleo Diet For Athletes?

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Dr. Eric Bakker here. Thanks for coming back. Let’s talk about the paleo diet a little bit today. What are the pros and cons of paleo diet for athletes? A good paleo book to read is Paleolithic Prescription, also Native Nutrition. This is a pretty cool book, but this one is amazing. So the paleo diet really came about by a guy called Dr. Cordain in the 19, I think late sixties or the early 1970s, from I think it was a Colorado university who studied different ancestral ways of eating and thought, well this is the way in how we should be eating today because it makes sense. But I’m not a huge fan of sort of paleo kind of diets because we’re not really cave people today. We don’t live in caves anymore. We’re not really hunting and gathering stuff anymore. We got shops now we can actually go to, so we don’t have to hunt down people for food anymore.

We’ve got electricity today. We’ve got a lot of things today that we never had back then. Not only that, we’ve got access to foods that hunter gatherers never even dreamed of having access to because we’ve got air travel now and we’ve got people shipping food all around the world. So we’ve got nuts and seeds, for example, that hunter gatherers wouldn’t even have heard of. So to push people into a diet pathway like that, how people ate many thousands of years ago, just doesn’t make sense to me. To me, it’s like saying, “let’s wear the clothes people wore back then,” or, “let’s grow our beards” or, “let’s live like that,” or whatever you want. Whatever tickles your fancy. But to me it’s not a good fit for the 21st century. But anyway, the pros on it, there’s definitely pros to paleo ways of eating, but there’s also cons, and particularly for people who are athletes. The carbohydrate debate is the big one because athletes need a lot of carbs for energy.

Now, some people are going to shoot me down and say you can get all your energy from fats and proteins, but carbs give you, or give athletes, an energy that they hard pressed getting from a diet, this devoid of these kinds of things. So you take all the starchy vegetables out with the paleo diet. You’re looking at non-starchy, leafy greens, you’re looking at eggs, meat, fish, chicken, nuts and seeds, stuff like that. So for vegetarians, almost impossible to follow a paleo diet because all of the beans really are taken out, aren’t they? So you can make a semi kind of paleo diet if you’re an athlete. But the benefits are there, there’s no doubt about it. For weight control, appetite control for certain types of sports, I think paleo may lend itself more than other types of sports.

For example, the weightlifting side may be better for paleo than track and field. For example, if you’re running a lot. So you need to talk to a dietician about that more in depth to see what your calorie requirements are for the particular sport that you’re doing. But there certainly are some pros and cons of this diet. Expense is and other one. So people who follow the paleo find it very expensive to maintain long term. Whereas if you start adding more of the non-starchies in there and dairy products and things that are taboo on the paleo, I think it’ll make it more cost effective. So, but to take all dairy out, all starchy vegetables out, all forms of sugaring, including honey, things like that. It makes it quite tough for a person, particularly the initial several weeks or months of this diet.

I’m not a fan of paleo way of eating because I find it, particularly red meat is not really a great food to eat constantly. Enough research now has been conducted in showing that the Bacteroidetes bacteria in the gut, the particular types of Bacteroidetes are responsible for bowel cancer, colon cancer. They’ve discovered this in New Zealand last year. And of course red meat is one of the key foods that pushes that part of the microbiome up. So I always tell people don’t eat a lot of red meat. Back off the red meat, you’re better off eating free range eggs and chicken and fresh caught fish, which is now I believe less than 8% of the fish sold today is actually a fresh caught.

Yeah, so the benefits are there, in terms of blood sugar control, for people with diabetes, people with hypertension, you will get some benefits there with paleo. But you’re walking a fine line there, if you’re an athlete, particularly a high functioning athlete, you’ll need to very carefully get your carbo protein and fat ratios carefully sorted out with a specialist, particularly as I say if you’re competing. But apart from that, there are benefits, but my recommendation is not to follow a paleo diet blindingly, but to add some of your additions in there that you find perfectly acceptable that are non-paleo. So that’s my take on it [inaudible] Click on the link below if you want my free 70 page candy to shopping report. Thanks for watching the video.

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