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Last Updated on September 22, 2020
If you are keeping fit and healthy by doing lots of exercise, it is essential that you get the nutrients and vitamins you need to maximize the effects of your workouts and replace what is lost through sweat and exertion.
There are endless ways to do this, but if you are sticking to a particular diet plan or lifestyle, your options obviously become slightly more limited. That does not mean, however, that they become inferior. When living by the paleo diet, you can still easily take in everything you need before, during, and after an intense workout.
Nutrition essential to exercise
The ways in which nutrition and exercise go hand in hand are many and are varied. From providing you with the initial energy boost to start well in a race to raise your protein intake in order to build muscle following a workout, one without the other is only doing half a job.
All of the foods that you may consider eating to supplement a workout will have recommended allowances or targets depending on the purpose of your exercise and diet, whether this is losing weight, building muscle, increasing stamina, or gaining weight, for example.
Arguably the most important of these are known as macronutrients – namely fats, carbohydrates, and proteins – as they are what you consume the largest amounts of. Consuming these in the right amounts, while sticking to your paleo diet, is vital for effective exercise and maintaining your chosen lifestyle.
Fat is essential to our energy levels, providing around 70% of the body’s fuel for its functions at resting and low-intensity physical activity levels. Consuming high levels of fat is, of course, unhealthy, but taking in the right amounts of good fat is essential to functioning properly. Fats are also responsible for the structural solidity of cell membranes, protecting organs, and transporting vitamins around the body.
To get your fix of healthy fats on the paleo diet, you should turn to olive oil, avocados, and chia seeds. Coconut oil is also paleo-friendly and consists of about 92% saturated fat, with just under half of its fatty acid content coming from lauric acid, believed to be one of the easiest fatty acids to digest.
The three different types of carbohydrates found in food are sugar, starch, and fiber. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose before being absorbed into your blood, which is used for energy, making this particular macronutrient essential for good physical performance.
If you are calorie counting, perhaps to attempt to lose weight, high-fiber, starchy carbohydrates are an excellent way of reducing your calorie intake as they contain fewer calories per gram than fat.
Although bread should be avoided when on the paleo diet – it is refined, processed, and sugary – there are a number of other, healthier ways of taking in a sufficient amount of carbohydrates. Potatoes, parsnips, and yams are all popular with those following the paleo lifestyle, while cassava root is delicious when cut into fries.
In order to get the proteins needed to build muscle, most meats are high in the nutrient and are acceptable on the paleo diet. If, however, you are following the paleo diet while also being vegan, using Myvegan protein bars, peanut butter, or protein blends will help you increase your intake accordingly. These are delicious alternatives to meat or dairy products that will enhance the efficiency of your workout just how you desire.
Proteins are used by the body to repair and grow the muscle that is broken during a workout or even during regular exercise. The consumption of protein also stimulates muscle protein synthesis, meaning you will see the results you want from working out more quickly if you increase your protein levels appropriately.
Through the method of calorie surplus or deficit, calorie counting in tandem with exercise is argued by many to be incredibly useful for trying to lose or gain weight. Those who are extremely conscious of their intake might even count up their macronutrients and stick to regimented allowances in order to build muscle or shed a few pounds.
With the paleo diet, however, calorie counting is not usually involved in the process. The principles of the paleo diet are that simply by sticking to whole foods and cutting out dairy products, processed foods, legumes, and grains, you will lose weight better and be healthier than by totting up your intake meticulously.
Whichever method you are opting for, knowing where your nutrients are coming from, why they are important, and how you are pairing them with your exercise regime is critical for understanding your body and its changes.
Working out ways to stay paleo when supermarket labels are so unhelpful, and dining in restaurants can sometimes be unaccommodating to different diets can be difficult at the best of times, never mind when attempting to consume the right foods for your exercise.
The best way to ensure you can maintain your paleo diet while reaching an exercise goal is to plan in advance. Meal plan sufficiently so that you can purchase your food ahead of time, knowing what types of macronutrients will be necessary to supplement your upcoming workouts.
Joining a paleo community online or in your local neighborhood is also a wise move, as this will open you up to a host of tips and tricks from others who are on the same journey as yourself.
Finally, throughout all of your exercising, meal planning, and nutrient checking, keep an eye out for quality paleo superfoods to complement your diet. Eggs, cherries, dark chocolate, blueberries, and salmon are all recognized as both paleo-friendly and remarkably good for your health.
If you are getting the cravings for bread, try making muffins with coconut and almond flour, rendered truly delicious by the addition of pumpkin. Smoothies are also permitted in the paleo diet and, if you include the right ingredients such as kale or spinach, are a superb protein boost for after a heavy workout.
Whether you are a strict paleo, partially paleo, or even vegan paleo, there are a number of ways in which you can get the nutrients you need to supplement and complement your exercise regime. Planning is key, as is creativity and determination.