The Paleo Athlete is here!
I was going to call this post “Jacked and Nerdy” but, you know, that would make it a bit harder for search engines to find. If I had to describe this book in one sentence it would be:
“A practical account of how to eat, perform and dominate whilst putting the most nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods in your mouth as you can.”
Or “Eat. Perform. Dominate.”
If you’d have told me that in 2013, I’d write a book I’d have laughed you out of your chair. But when I sit and think about it, there’s just no other way it was supposed to happen. It’s like my worlds, the things I’m most experienced in and passionate about—nutrition, athletics and performance—smashed into one project.
It didn’t start off this way—as writing projects have a tendency to do. All I wanted to do was to write a little ebook about how to eat Paleo if you’re an athlete. Sounds simple. Riiiiiiight. The more I wrote, the more I thought about all the things I wish I’d known when I first started Paleo back in the olden days. (That’s 2010.) Competing—whether it was youth soccer or high school track, racing my mountain bike for the first time, running a marathon, dabbling in tris or doing CrossFit and weightlifting—has been a huge part of my life since I was a kid. There’s something about sport that’s exhilarating and challenging and wonderful—even when it’s all going wrong and you’re drooling on yourself.
My introduction to Paleo was The Paleo Diet for Athletes, and though the foundation was laid back then, as I continued competing and eating this way, I started to feel like there was something I could offer the community: my personal experiences in the trenches of competition, combined with the science to understand the rationale behind Paleo and a focus on practical application. You see, I don’t think everyone wants the dogmatic, super-detailed, scientific stuff. It’s very possible you want to know what to do, when to do it and how. Bing bang boom.
One thing that motivated me was the number of times I’ve heard, “You can’t be Paleo and be an athlete.” I’ve seen this quote from the 2013 CrossFit Games about 20 times in various articles and it frankly boils my blood because the legitimacy of this nutrition approach died a little that day. If the athletes were asked, “Who focuses their nutrition around plenty of protein, enough carbs to keep fueled and fat to stay satiated with little to no processed food,” I’m willing to bet nearly every hand would have gone up. This is why labels—though a necessary evil—can really suck. Sitting out there behind computer screens are athletes who’ve completely dismissed Paleo because of that quote.
In a way, I don’t blame them. Paleo’s become a word that’s confusing because its meaning isn’t standard across the board. Most folks I know aren’t strict to the degree originally fleshed out by Cordain, and rightly so. While this template works for some, it’s frankly too restrictive for others. Need to fix your broken metabolism or heal your leaking gut? Your Paleo should look different from an athlete in training. At some point, folks got their wires crossed, thinking that Paleo athletes should ALL be low carb—because some people out there in the world can do low carb Paleo long-term and not pop. And they worked out hard and got really lean and jacked. And then they started getting chubbier. And slower. And weaker. And they hated training. So they thought, “Paleo’s whack, man!” (Said in my best voice El Duderino voice.)
But I’m here to tell you that doesn’t have to be the case. You can eat whole, nutrient-dense foods and perform like a badass without popping pills and mixing powders or eating like a rabbit.
Real food is powerful, nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory. Don’t believe me? I put 15 kilograms on my back squat while taking no whey protein or creatine or boost juice or whatever people call their secret sauce these days. Just whole sources of protein, carbs and healthy fats. I’ve done long training days and races on the bike with clean fuel, too. It can be done. I’m also not blind to the fact that because of the superhuman demands you may put on yourself with training, you may decide that things like whey protein powder or waxy maize starch or white rice work for you. If those are the concessions you make, then so be it but it’s time to be honest about the fact that these aren’t better than real food…they’re just more convenient.
If you’re looking for a balanced approach to fueling, you’re curious about how to apply Paleo to your sport, or you’re a Paleo athlete already but you’re wondering how to tweak your nutrition for better performance (while not sacrificing your health), The Paleo Athlete is for you.