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Paleo Diet for CrossFit

author image Clay McNight
Clay McNight is currently a nutrition writer with Demand Media Studios.
Paleo Diet for CrossFit
Men doing crossfit Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

CrossFit is a total fitness program founded by Greg Glassman that involves a combination of different workouts. These workouts include functional strength training, cardiovascular exercises and explosive athletic movements. The Paleo diet is a set of dietary guidelines that is based upon the Paleolithic period in history. In this diet, refined carbohydrates, dairy, legumes and processed foods are not allowed. Using CrossFit and the Paleo diet together is common and is a highly recommended practice. Still, there are some minor modifications to the Paleo diet that may be beneficial to CrossFit athletes.

CrossFit Nutrition

CrossFit, along with being an exercise program, has its own dietary guidelines. According to the official CrossFit website, calories should be broken up among macronutrients as follows: protein 30 percent, carbohydrates 40 percent and Fat 30 percent. The basis of the CrossFit diet is vegetables, lean meats, nuts and seeds. According to the CrossFit website, diets high in carbohydrates raise insulin levels, which promote obesity and chronic disease. The CrossFit organization also advocates a reduced calorie diet because calorie restriction promotes longevity and decreases risks for heart disease and cancer.

Paleo Nutrition

Before modern agriculture existed, grains such as wheat were not part of the human diet. Man was a hunter-gatherer who ate wild animals, nuts, seeds and berries. According to the Paleo diet, this way of eating can lower your risk for disease, promote weight loss and optimize your health. By following the Paleo plan, your diet will be high in protein, fiber, healthy fats, potassium, vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients and antioxidants. The principles and guidelines of both the Paleo diet and the CrossFit diet are the same.

Almost a Perfect Match

The recommended CrossFit diet closely resembles the Paleo diet. The CrossFit website even states that “The Caveman (or paleolithic) model is perfectly consistent with the CrossFit prescription.” There are, however, minor modifications that may benefit CrossFit athletes, as well as other athletes. The book, “The Paleo Diet For Athletes,” states that while it is possible for athletes to recover from vigorous workouts on the strict Paleo diet, it can be more difficult to recover quickly. For this reason, before during and after training, in particular, modifications can be made.

The Modifications

At least two hours before prolonged exercise “The Paleo Diet For Athletes” recommends consuming moderate glycemic index carbohydrates to help fuel your workout. High glycemic index carbohydrates such as sports drinks are recommended during workouts that last more than one hour. Immediately after workouts a drink containing both carbohydrates and protein, in a ratio of 4-5:1, is recommended. An example of this would be fruit juice mixed with protein powder. For extended recovery, during the few hours following your workout -- foods that are normally not allowed such as breads, pasta, and rice -- can aid recovery. The best of these carbohydrate-rich foods, according to “The Paleo Diet For Athletes,” include potatoes, sweet potatoes, raisins and yams.

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