Athletes race for gluten-free low carb Paleo diet: Wins for health and weight loss

Unless you've been hiding in a cave, you've probably heard of the Paleo diet.  Many dieters are using it for weight loss, saying that it's gluten-free, dairy-free guidelines and emphasis on unprocessed foods help them to lose weight. Now an increasing number of athletes are using it to help them beat the competition, according to Competitor magazine.

Nell Stephenson developed a gluten intolerance and suffered from stomach pain after she contracted a parasite during an Ironman race and took medication. Her solution: Paleo dieting.

“I felt better in three days,” says Nell,  a trainer and nutritional coach who authored "Paleoista: Gain Energy, Get Lean, and Feel Fabulous with the Diet You Were Born to Eat" (click for details).

But many athletes are hesitant because they've been told to carbo-load. Instead, Paleo dieters eat lean protein, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits. Off the menu: Dairy, grains, legumes and processed foods, including those popular nutrition bars.

However, Joel Friel, a U.S. Olympic triathlon coach, says it's not only doable but beneficial.

“[Paleo offers] better long-term recovery, due to greater micronutrient content [than a standard high-starch and sugar diet], allowing the athlete to train with a greater stress load,” he says. Together with Loren Cordain, PhD, he authored the guide to customizing the Paleo plan for athletes: "The Paleo Diet for Athletes: The Ancient Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance" (click for more information).

Recommended reading: "Paleo Diet for Athletes Guide: Paleo Meal Plans for Endurance Athletes, Strength Training, and Fitness" and "Paleo Fitness: A Primal Training and Nutrition Program to Get Lean, Strong and Healthy."

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