For most people, the standard Paleo prescription (Meat, Veggies, some fruit and some nuts) is the correct one. The beauty of the Paleo diet is that you don’t have to micro-manage everything, from overall calories to macronutrients. If you’re eating the right foods and listening to your body, you’ll be right where you need to be.
However, certain populations have certain needs, and as Nate Miyaki stated in a recent T-Nation article, “You’ll never convince me that a 300-pound, obese, insulin resistant, sedentary office worker who just wants to be able to see his wee-wee again should be eating the same thing as a 185-pound, ripped, insulin sensitive, athletic alpha male trying to reach peak athletic or physical conditioning.” I agree that athletic fit individuals don’t need to be as carb-phobic as insulin resistant overweight dieters. I disagree with Nate where he states that two of the mainstays of his dietary recommendations, rice and white potatoes, are not “paleo.” While these may be Neolithic foods, we are heading towards a new definition of what “Paleo” is. Most forward thinkers in terms of Paleo are moving towards a concept where we are less concerned with recreating an imagined paleolithic diet bite-for-bite and more towards moving towards making educated diet choices based on an what we know from our evolutionary heritage.
In other words, Paleolithic man and/or Hunter Gatherer tribes do not have the instances of the diseases of civilization that we see in modern society. But we need to get into the nuts and bolts of “why” to see what foods we should eat and how much. We know that gluten and various anti-predation elements in grains and legumes are destructive to the human body. We also know that for overweight, insulin resistant individuals, a ketogenic or low carb diet can be very beneficial. Finally, we know that even if one suffers no adverse effects (currently) from gluten or lectin ingestion and he or she is not overweight, there are no nutrients offered by grains and legumes that cannot be provided to a greater degree by varied vegetable sources. Note this study by Dr. Loren Cordain on the nutritional characteristics of a modern diet based on paleolithic food groups.
In terms of performance, and if one is healthy, lean, and athletic, the precision introduction of carbs surrounding the athletic activity is absolutely appropriate. Remaining gluten and lectin free, a few options for starchy vegetables to introduce in the “peri-workout” period include:
- White potatoes
- Sweet Potatoes
- White Rice
- Yucca Root