Running 101: Nutrition and Paleo

Disclaimer:  BEFORE STARTING ANY NEW EXERCISE REGIME PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR AND/OR PHYSICIAN. I AM NOT A COACH, TRAINER, PHYSICIAN, DOCTOR, DIETICIAN. I HAVE NO EDUCATIONAL DEGREE IN SPORTS MEDICINE. ALL THESE TIPS AND ADVICE I DISCUSS IN THIS SERIES ARE PURELY BASED ON MY OWN EXPERIENCES AND WHAT HAS WORKED FOR ME. PLEASE DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU.

running 101 nutrition and paleo

Nutrition. Food. Fuel. Whatever you want to call it, the food that you consume is fuel for your body to function at its optimum performance. What you eat can make or break a run. The key to a good run is to find the right foods that works best with (not against) your body. There is not ONE “diet” that works the same for each individual person. Yes, I follow a Paleo “diet” or lifestyle (is more like it). Yes, my “diet” has changed drastically over the course of the last year or so. Yes, I never imagined my “diet” to be like it is today. No, I am not Paleo perfect, in any sense of the word. No, I don’t follow the Paleo lifestyle 100% of the time.

 

Your Personal Paleo Code

If you haven’t picked up Chris Kresser’s Your Personal Paleo Code, than you need to go out right now and buy it! This book will be your best and smartest investment to date. He goes into detail on finding the right foods for you. He even suggests some rice and legumes. Gasp! I know, crazy!

own personal paleo code yes and no list

Protein: 10-20% (50-100g)** (I try to get closer to 20% or a little higher)

Medium/high carb: 25%-35% (125-200)**

Fat: the remaining percentage (range from 45-65%)

*p.304 Your Personal paleo Code by Chris Kresser

**based on my height/weight/activity level: 5’ 5”/145 lbs/workout 5+ days a week each workout exceeding at least 60 minutes

 

What’s your paleo code?

The following is taken from Chris Kresser’s book where he discusses the basic guidelines to reset your “diet” to your very own personal paleo code. He emphasizes the importance of experimenting with different ratios and finding the ones that work best for you.

Running 101: Nutrition and Paleo: Whats your paleo code

*Kresser does not include non starchy vegetables when calculating carb count. (ie-doesn’t include carrots, peppers, green leafy vegetables, etc)

**All these numbers are directly from Chris Kresser’s Your Personal Paleo Code p. 56

 

Next step after resetting your macronutrient ratio is:

Modifying those ratios based on several different factors.

  • Constitution (genetics, physiology, biology)
  • Season
  • Geography/climate
  • Health status (will determine if you need to be on a very low-carb, low-carb, moderate-carb and high-carb diet)
  • Activity Level
  • Goals

**all these factors are directly from Chris Kresser’s Your Personal Paleo Code p. 301-303

 

Carbs are your friends

Paleo is perceived to be a low-carb “diet” which can’t be farther from the truth. What is great about Paleo is that it isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Paleo can be low carb, medium carb or high carbohydrates, depending on your activity level. I am between medium to high carb due to the fact that I workout 6 days a week and 2 of those days I workout 3x a day. I need those carbs to replace the glycogen that was lost.

Another great book to buy is Loren Cordain’s The Paleo Diet for Athletes. I guess you can consider him the Godfather of the Paleo World. Loren talks about how eating starchy vegetables are essential in an athlete’s diet for optimum performance.

Here is an excerpt from his book where he outlines the four reasons the Paleo diet works best for athletic performance, one of those being glycogen stores.

“One of the most important goals of any athletic diet is to maintain high muscle stores of glycogen, a body fuel absolutely essential for high-level performance. Dietary starches and sugars are the body’s number one source for making muscle glycogen. Proteins won’t do it, neither will fat….certain carbohydrates are more effective than others in restoring muscle glycogen, particularly specific types of sugar, such as glucose and net alkaline-producing starches found in bananas, sweet potatoes, and yams.”

The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Loren Cordain (p. 6-7)

 

What are the (Paleo) foods that keep me going?

1. Sweet potatoes (starchy) work great for before and/or after a run

2. Avocados (healthy fats) before a long run (6+ miles)

3. Pistachios (healthy fats) before a run

4. Eggs (protein) easy to prepare and one whole egg has 6g of protein!

Obviously, I don’t always have carbs before a run. There are so many factors in my decision as to what I eat before a run and each run is completely different.

If you are curious how Paleo and my running performance has changed, by the numbers, read this post, here.

End note:

Please remember this post is NOT meant to take the place of a nutritionist, doctor and/or physician. The numbers that I discussed here are ones that work for me and my training. I am not looking to lose weight, but to gain lean muscle. I am following a moderate to high carb “diet” because I live a very active lifestyle and need those extra carbs to fuel my workouts and training runs for my races. I am using the food I eat as FUEL for my body to perform well.

 

What are your go-to carbs/food that fuel your runs?

Have you made a drastic change in your “diet” recently? Have you noticed a difference in your athletic performance?

Running 101 series:

Getting Started

Nutrition and Paleo

Proper Fueling

What I ate before, during and after a 12 mile run

gear (coming soon)

training (coming soon)

exercises/stretches/strength training/cross-training for the runner (coming soon)

Misc.-weight gain during training, etc.  (coming soon)

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15 Responses to Running 101: Nutrition and Paleo

  1. Lindsey, thanks for this great informative post. I am still trying to figure out the right nutrition as I continue to ramp up my running (I’m average 12-14 miles/week right now). I ran into a slump this week where I felt lethargic and tired and I’ve been trying to figure out if it is over-training, under-eating, or (probably) a combination of the both. I’ll go take a look at Chris Kessler’s book!

    • You are welcome ! There is so much more that I wanted to cover but I didn’t want it to be a whole novel. I am doing a separate post on proper fueling that I’m working on now. The slump that you mentioned is exactly how I used to feel on almost every one of my runs prior to Paleo. Once I started increasing my protein and good carb intake I noticed I had more energy and not just in running but in my everyday life. Also check out The Paleo Diet for athletes by Loren Cordain. Even if you aren’t paleo he just gives good advice on proper fueling .

  2. sarahdudek80 says:

    This is very interesting. I am going to have to add this to my reading list!

  3. Annie Brees says:

    It’s interesting to compare my diet (all lifting, no running) to your diet (all running, no lifting- I think right?). Fats are about the same but I get more of my nutrition from protein where as you get yours from carbs…which I suppose all makes sense right considering the activities we enjoy! I do love all of those food sources you listed- sweet potatoes are for sure at the top of my list!

  4. This was great Lindsey! Thanks for shedding some light on Paleo. When I am eating my version of “healthy” I’m actually not too far off of Paleo. Sharing this on my page!

    • Thank you for sharing it! Glad you liked it! I know many people have misconceptions on the Paleo lifestyle and so they never even give it a try! And see when you are eating healthy and didn’t even know how close you were to Paleo! That’s great!

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  6. Meghan says:

    I totally agree, paleo is not one size fits all. It’s a total life style which you customize to your needs and wants. I know that paleo has done wonders for your running and i love that! I do appreciate the paleo thing in that it promotes whole, real foods. without rebekah doing paleo, i never would have realized (maybe i would have, but not as fast as I did) that low fat stuff= filled with chemicals and all kinds of terrible things… so while i’m not paleo, when i eat all whole, fresh foods, i perform so much better! and avocados are absolutely the best thing ever!!

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