The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance Paperback – Oct 13 2005
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About the Author
LOREN CORDAIN, PH.D., a world-renowned scientist and the leading expert on the Paleolithic diet, is a professor in the health and exercise science department at Colorado State University. He is a member of the American Institute of Nutrition and the American Heart Association, among other organizations. His work has been featured on Dateline and the Wall Street Journal. He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.
JOE FRIEL, M.S., is founder and president of Ultrafit Associates, LLC, an association of elite endurance coaches. His books include The Cyclist's Training Bible and The Triathlete's Training Bible. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.
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Top Customer Reviews
I love this book but remember to do you own research (check who funded that research to reassure yourself that it's not biased, ie milk producers telling you dairy products are great for you) before buying into anything.
The Paleo Diet for Athletes works for me, I hope it works for you too.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Since both authors have advanced degrees (Loren Cordain has a PhD in Exercise Physiology and Friel a M.S. in Exercise Science), it is heavy on science. The authors base their claims on numerous sources, and reference these sources throughout.
The basic premise is that the way we currently eat is contrary to how our bodies evolved over the millions of years prior to agriculture. Lean meat, fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables should be our staple, with a small twist. Paleolithic man could never have been a high level endurance athlete, as he just wouldn't have gotten enough carbohydrate to replenish his glycogen stores after a long or very intense workout.
This book, then, makes adjustments to the standard Paleo Diet to include certain types of foods normally not allowed during SPECIFIC periods of the pre and post-exercise window.
Post Script: Though I don't like to comment on others' reviews, I feel I must say that I don't agree with the assertion that the book doesn't place enough emphasis on when to eat the foods you eat. After the intro, the entire first few chapters are exactly that: What types of food to eat, and EXACTLY when to eat them.
Most disappointingly, this book is standard high-carb advice for runners. A majority of its content is indistinguishable from any other guide to endurance nutrition. So, basically, you are advised to eat x grams of low glycemic carbs x hours before a race, and x grams of higher glycemic carbs as you approach race time. In fact, there is little in this book with regard to true paleo diet metabolism or low carb/high fat fueling and how that diet effects running. Perhaps the argument there is that one cannot be an endurance athlete while truly paleo. Touche. But don't write a book called "The Paleo Diet for Athletes."
But here is where my real beef is, and what really made this book a waste of time. Where the authors do seem to describe the Paleo diet, they get it pretty wrong. For instance, they push lean fats (not fatty animal ones) and warn of cholesterol and "bad" saturated fats, while encouraging vegetable oil consumption, issues at the very core of Paleolithic nutrition that have been specifically and comprehensively studied and debated, to the opposite conclusions that these authors come to. In fact, these authors are, by definition, not paleo at all, maybe just picky about which carbs and how many.
At the very least, if these writers had meant to promote neolithic nutrition, and totally diverge from paleo, I really wish they would've explained why.
The book does give lots of details for implementing the Paleo way of eating for intense athletes, so it's a great book if you fit that category.
Regardless of fitness level, there are many tasty sounding Paleo recipes in the book, so it will be a good companion to the original Paleo Diet book even if you're not a high-volume athlete. But for beginners, I would recommend the original Paleo Diet book first, because it is geared more towards general fitness and weight loss.
And one thing that I like about both of Cordain's books is that they have an extensive bibliography of references, so you can be sure his research is backed-up with lots of research.
If Paleo works for you then stick to it. It's certianly popular with the Crossfitters out there and seems to work exceedingly well for many of them. As a longer duration "endurance" athlete I found it did not work for me without modification and so I was really pleased to have access to this book
This book was co-authored by Joe Friel who is an endurance athlete coach and competitor who specializes in the training and nutritional requirements of endurance and ultra-endurance athletes. We are not talking 40 minute Crossfit WODs here, and that's no slight on Crossfitters who are "athletes" of the highest caliber, it's simply to recognize a WOD and an Ironman distance triathlon are two very different things. Freil is talking ultra-endurance events exceeding 3 hours in duration and going upwards of 17-24 hours. Keeping Friels pedigree in mind one has to realize that the Paleo diet was reviewed through that particular lense and the caloric needs of athletes who train and compete in long duration events NOT athletes who compete in short(er) duration bursts of power like your average weight lifter or Crossfitter. This does not exclude other athletes from laying valid claim to the title "athlete"...it merely recognizes the difference in the nutritional and caloric needs between say...an olympic lifter and a ultra-marathon runner. Once cannot do what the other does and vica versa and thus they should not necessarily train and eat like the other does and vica versa.
Like me Friel finds merit in the Paleo approach but experienced diffuculty with the diet relative to long duration endurance events. It's not that the Paleo diet can't provide the carbs you might need going into a 15 hour Ironman event....the problem is that they would come with such a high fiber load that a strict Paleo approach can be untenable for that format.
Personally I applaud both authors for trying to modify the Paleo concept in a way that might work a bit better for some endurance athletes. There's no better proof than personal experience and I know for certain that the total elimination of some high quality but simple carbs resulted in a reduction in performance and increased feelings of poor recovery and fatige after my longer runs and rides. I found I absolutely HAD to include these things as a component of my long distance training efforts and competitions AND as part of my immdediate post workout recovery plan. In between when I'm doing shorter base building or recovery work I'm able to cleave more closely to what many would consider a genuine Paleo diet....but there's no way I'd want to be staring down the barrel of 4-6 hours of hard effort without some high quality endurance fuels in my pocket. FOR ME there are simply just some non-paleo fuels that are an absolute necessity as to go strick paleo would mean loading my gut with a ton of undigestable fiber.....not what you want on a 90 degree day half way into a 100 mile ride.
So kudos to Cordain and Friel for their willingness to "unbox" their thinking and risk angering the purists by considering a modified approach.