Whether it’s a personal choice or a medical necessity, ditching processed grains and waving goodbye to gluten can be hard. Besides avoiding processed grains and dairy, the Paleo diet emphasizes fresh fruits and veggies, lots of animal proteins, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils. Finding foods friendly to a Paleo diet isn’t easy, and trying to find gluten-free options out at restaurants can feel like a new obstacle course every time.
But for the millions of people with some level of gluten sensitivity or intolerance, it’s incredibly beneficial. More often than not, the move away from processed foods and hard-to-break-down proteins has all kinds of positive outcomes on your body. And while everyone has different dietary needs based on their individual body, the fact remains that there’s a lot to be said for going grain-free.
Most general Paleo diet food lists will give you the basic Dos-and-Don’ts. But if your day isn’t complete without hitting the gym for a serious sweat session, you might be wondering what you can eat to supply you with the right fuel before and after a workout.
Paleo diets put a lot of weight on lean meats and fresh fish. These protein-rich ingredients are great for gym-goers focusing on building strength and growing muscle. At the same time, you’ll still want to switch up your protein sources so your body doesn’t get loaded down with heavy meats that might make you sluggish at the gym.
But you can still get loads of protein without upping the fats. There’s lots of iron and protein in vegetable sources, especially paired with ingredients like fish, seafood, and eggs — which are also strong sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Leafy greens like kale and spinach are often loaded with iron, which improves oxygen circulation and muscle growth, making them ideal ingredients to eat after exercising.
Carbs — yay or nay?
One of the biggest adjustments you’ll have to make is cutting out your main carb sources. Carbohydrates make up the bulk of your body’s fuel, and we get a lot of our carbs from grains.
But just because those grains are gone, doesn’t mean we have to throw out the carb fest with the breadbasket! Vegetables are also great sources of carbohydrates, vitamins, and nutrients, that can help you store and restore glycogen, and up your endurance for high intensity exercise.
Cassava, taro root, yam, and sweet potato are all rich in manganese and potassium as well as healthy doses of nutritious carbohydrates that can give you the restorative energy your body needs after working up a sweat. They’re best as post-gym foods after heavy duty workouts, like CrossFit, HIIT, or intense cardio.
In contrast, most dried fruits are rich in copper, vitamins, and healthy carbs that will give your body what it needs for a pre-workout carb fix while staying in shape. You can also snack on bananas, apples, pears, and mangos for a rush of energy before hitting the gym.