In The Paleo Diet for Athletes, we lay out a comprehensive dietary strategy for performance athletes based on the principles of the Paleo Diet, but with minor adjustments.1 Athletes push themselves to physiological extremes rarely experienced by our distant ancestors. Accordingly, they have slightly different nutritional needs compared to non-athletes.
Meals consumed before training should be higher in carbohydrates, lower in fiber, and should be very hydrating.2 Additionally, these meals should include some source of protein. Our Carrot Coconut Lemongrass Soup alongside a serving of wild Alaskan salmon is a complete, excellent pre-workout meal.
Carrots are starchy, relatively high-carb vegetables containing significant amounts of water; when broken down through digestion, they are very hydrating. Consuming adequate liquids prevents protein breakdown during training, thereby enhancing performance and recovery.3
Besides creating lavish textures, we’re blending the soup, which disrupts the fiber content of the carrots. A study of the plasma-glucose effects of three forms of apples—whole, juiced, and blended—concluded, “The removal of fibre from food, and also its physical disruption, can result in faster and easier ingestion, decreased satiety, and disturbed glucose homoeostasis which is probably due to inappropriate insulin release.”4 For an athlete’s pre-workout meal, soups have their advantages.
Whole vegetables are generally better than fiber-disrupted purées, but occasionally it’s great to enjoy the textures afforded by modern technology. I would recommend this soup for your next dinner party, especially when hosting guests who are unfamiliar with the Paleo lifestyle. This soup is a definite crowd pleaser, no matter which section of the crowd one might be sitting.
- 3 large or 6 small carrots (about ¾ pound), roughly chopped
- 1 large zucchini, roughly chopped
- 3 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- ½ inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1½ cups coconut milk
- 3 Kaffir lime leaves or juice of ½ lime
- Fresh cilantro, for garnish
Christopher James Clark, B.B.A. is an award-winning author, writer, consultant, and chef with specialized knowledge in nutritional science and healing cuisine. He has a Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan and formerly worked as a revenue management analyst for a Fortune 100 company. For the past decade-plus, he has been designing menus, recipes, and food concepts for restaurants and spas, coaching private clients, teaching cooking workshops worldwide, and managing the kitchen for a renowned Greek yoga resort. Clark is the author of the critically acclaimed, award-winning book, Nutritional Grail.
1. Cordain, L. & Friel, J. (2012). The Paleo Diet for Athletes: The Ancient Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance. Rodale Books; revised edition.
4. Haber, G.B., Heaton, K.W., Murphy. D., & Burroughs L.F. (1977). Depletion and disruption of dietary fibre. Effects on satiety, plasma-glucose, and serum-insulin. The Lancet, 2(8040), 679-82.