Training like an athlete can be the best, and the worst, thing to happen to you. On the one hand, it will allow your body to achieve things that you may never have thought possible. You will be able to run faster, jump higher, and build muscle definition. And you will be able to do all of this while you are doing something that you love.
On the other hand, it can be grueling, intense, and just plain hard. You will be pushing your body harder than you ever dreamed possible and there will be times when you feel like you want to break. But if you can endure that, if you can find it in you to keep digging deeper even when you feel like there is nothing left, then it will get easier, and you will reach, maybe even exceed, the athletic goals that you have for yourself.
As an athlete, your diet is going to be your best friend. The way that you fuel your body will help you in every area of your athletic training, both physically and mentally. As you know, paleo foods are perfect for you as an athlete; they provide protein, carbs, and an abundance of healthy nutrients. Paleo foods also reduce inflammation in the body, allowing you to push your muscles even further.
It’s Okay to Go ‘Off Paleo.’
One thing to remember is that it is okay to go ‘off paleo’ right before a big competition. In fact, many professional paleo athletes do this. No, they don’t skip out on paleo so that they can reconnect with pizza and beer, But they will typically start eating grains or white potatoes (a ‘grey’ area for many paleo followers). They do this because they need to fuel their bodies differently right before a big competition.
Let me be clear, these aren’t the athletes who play football after school, these are the athletes who are professional MMA fighters and muscle builders. These are the athletes who train much harder than most people and need their muscles to be much bigger and stronger than most of us.
If you fall into this slim category and are thinking of adding non-paleo foods into your diet just before a big competition, rest assured that you wouldn’t hinder your paleo goals by doing this.
In fact, one thing many paleo athletes like about being paleo is that this is an easy diet to get back into after you have veered off of it.
Water is Key
Another key to the success of any athlete is hydration. It has been said many times in many different ways; hydration is critical. You don’t just need it in your everyday life; you also need it before and after your workouts. But the most valuable time you need to hydrate is during your workout.
This is the time when your body is losing the most moisture through sweat, and you need to replenish that moisture to keep pushing yourself forward. When you are properly hydrated, you will not only feel fuller and lighter, and you will also be able to stretch your muscles further and reduce your risk of muscle cramps.
It’s no secret that we are supposed to drink a lot of water a day. And for an athlete, who trains and competes, they need even more water than most people. This can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. Yes, nothing beats good old water, but you can hydrate in other ways. For example, look for foods that are high in water content.
Things like apples, grapes, and pears can add a lot of extra moisture into your body without the worry of having to increase your water goals.
Recovery Is Key
As tempting as it is to keep training, it is important to take your rest days seriously. If you don’t give your muscles the chance to recover you are increasing your risk of injury and slowing down your body’s ability to build muscle.
On the surface, training hard and pushing yourself every day might seem like a good idea, especially if you are finding yourself getting used to your workouts and getting to a place where you can start enjoying them. But make no mistake, if you don’t let your muscles rest then you will be taking a step back in your athletic journey.
Just like with anything else in life, setting goals is key to becoming the best athlete that you can be. Whether you are a golfer, a football player, or anything in between, goals are necessary for your success.
After you have decided on the type of athlete that you want to be it is time to decide how you are going to get yourself there. Figure out what your workout goals are going to be and then figure out what the best exercises are for you to reach these aims. You will also want to create your workout schedule, including the times you are going to workout and when your rest days will be.
Another important goal is how you are going to fuel your body. What paleo foods are going to help you the most to reach your goals? What foods should you be avoiding? And what are you going to be eating pre and post workout? Planning your food goals now will make your transition into a paleo journey, or even a transition deeper into your current paleo journey, much easier.
Deciding to be an athlete is an amazing thing. It means that you are taking your health to a level that most of us will never experience. But it is also something that is going to take work. When you trust your body to the paleo lifestyle, you will reduce inflammation, gain energy, build muscle, increase endurance, and find mental focus. And that my friend will make all of that ‘work’ much easier.