Paleo Diet for Athletes

Paleo-Diet-for-AthletesPaleo Diet for Athletes: The Ancient Nutritional Formula fo Peak Athletic Performance
by Loren Cordain, PhD, and Joe Friel, MS
Rodale Books, softcover, 288 pages at

Perhaps no other person has done as much research on the Paleo diet than Dr. Loren Cordain, and his first book, The Paleo Diet, is widely acknowledged as an authoritative guide to eating Paleo. We’ve even used the book in promotions in the past, and think it’s just a great read.

In his second book, Paleo Diet for Athletes (revised in 2012), Cordain and co-author Joe Friel explore the Paleo diet as it applies to athletes. The book is a huge resource for anyone pursuing an active, athletic lifestyle and is particularly well suited for endurance athletes.

The book covers topics like pre- and post-workout meals, plus a full and thorough debunking of the myths associated with the “traditional” athletics-inspired diet: grains, starches, and refined sugars.

Paleo Diet for Athletes provides people of all athletic talents and levels with a guidebook for eating the foods that will best prepare them for activity, increase their performance, and aid in their recovery. Cordain and Friel, in simple-to-understand language, inform you just how eating Paleo effects the body.

We’re huge fans of Dr. Cordain here at the Paleo Plan, and his follow-up book is a great read that only solidifies our stance on the Paleo Diet. Definitely check it out.


  1. Jack Prall

    I am a firefighter and an athlete that does intense workouts 3 – 4 times a week and also play basketball 4 – 5 times a week. I am 34 yrs old, 6’1″ 200 lbs. I have never dieted because my whole life I had a hard time putting on weight and keeping it on so, I would usually eat anything in site and to the point of feeling uncomfortable. I stay away from fast food and try to eat generally healthy. However I feel that I could enhance my workouts by sticking to a diet that works for me. I am not interested in losing weight, just fat. Is paleo for me? If so, How?

    • Neely

      Hi Jack,

      I think it could definitely work for you – I don’t know why it wouldn’t be. Give it a shot! Just follow Paleo Plan or follow this resource. You’ll need to add more sweet potatoes, potatoes, and other starchy foods like tapioca flour in order to keep your energy up with all that exercise.

  2. todd

    im working out 5 days a week 3 of those days ar xfit workouts and 2 days weights , and i also compete ski racing , usually i do a carb load before a race but this goes against what ive heard about this diet, can you give me some input please

    • Neely

      Hi Todd,

      I’d say read Nell Stephenson’s blog for more info for athletes. But basically your carb load doesn’t need to be anything more than eating some sweet potatoes or other starchy veggie at most meals a couple days leading up to your race.

  3. emily

    i am a college swimmer and we work out constantly but i cant get rid of this extra weight. ive been told that trying to drop weight in such an intense sport may affect my training and races. will this work for me?

    • Neely

      @Emily – Yes, it definitely can, but you’re going to need to add more carbohydrates probably. Look to starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, fruit, squash, and honey, and add those to a couple meals every day you workout. If you need extra help with this, though, I do private Paleo coaching and can give you more specifics in a couple sessions. Either way, just try the diet out, expect to detox in the beginning (performance may go down for a bit) and know that it will get better and the diet can be catered to your needs.

  4. Alistair

    I am 38 yrs old, 194lbs & do crossfit training 6 days per week. I’ve started trying out a paleo style diet & am feeling flat & a little foggy in the afternoon. Also my strength is decreasing im finding. Would this be due in part to such a drastic drop in carbs & will this continue?
    Would love to lean up more as i train hard & know diet is the only link i may be lacking in, so i hope you can give me some positive info to take away as i’m reading the paleo solution currently & it all makes sense…so far

  5. Whitney Nelson

    I have been a vegetarian for 23 years with no intention to eat meat again. I occasionally eat fish, but it might be once every few weeks, unless it’s smoked salmon, which I might have once a week. I’m trying to follow a pseudo paleo plan but it’s really hard. I haven’t seen anything on this site to indicate you guys might have some advice for a veg-paleo plan, but if you have any advice, it would be greatly appreciated!

  6. Scott Madden

    im a 24 year old. 6’0 ft tall and 235 on weight. i am a mma fighter. im looking to drop to 205. i need to loose weight but still need to keep very tonned. i workout 6 days a week. with my one day off i lift for about 2 hours. my workouts are insanity work outs ( cardio) and right after that i hit the gym and lift. at night i train, wrestling, boxing, kickboxing. would this diet work for me? or what route do you think i could take? ive been doing a calorie diet. around 3-4000 a day. should i stay on this or not. help please

    • Neely

      Hi Scott – First off, I feel like I have to say that you land in the “chronic cardio” category, and it’s possible that all that working out may be causing some inflammation and negative progress. You’d have to make some adjustments to do a Paleo diet, but it could work. Lots of fat, fat, fat. Then lots of carbs and plenty of protein. I say go for it. If you need individualized help, email me at Good luck!

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