CrossFit and Paleo

CrossFit | The Paleo Diet

Dr. Cordain,

My name is Carl. I’m an assistant gymnastics coach just down the street at the University of Denver. For personal health reasons, I tried a grain, sugar and dairy free diet a few years ago and was stunned by the results. Since that time I’ve waffled a bit but (mostly 85:15), for the most part, gone Paleo.

Recently, I’ve read Taubes, Sisson and your book, The Paleo Diet for Athletes. I’m preparing to mount an offensive against the conventional wisdom and challenge what we currently tell our athletes in an effort to bring them more towards the Paleo side. I feel a low GI diet will enhance performance and help our athletes keep their body comps to a healthy minimum, something of great importance in a sport which uses such high intensity, ballistic movements and demands aesthetic appeal.

With your books emphasis on endurance sports, I’m wondering about the applicability to a sport like gymnastics. I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts and, perhaps, a list of resources of relevant research. I just recently came across an article about ketogenic diet and performance in Italian gymnasts which demonstrated no detriment to performance in the short term.

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Highest regards,


Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Hi Carl,

Joe Friel and I considered doing a chapter on Paleo for strength athletes, but didn’t do so because the dietary principles were virtually identical to those we suggest for endurance athletes.  To date, I am unaware of any scientific or clinical trials of contemporary Paleo Diets involving any type of athletes that have been published in the scientific literature.

Many of the activities and exercises done in CrossFit gyms all over the U.S. and the world tend to be strength oriented.  Further, many  elite CrossFit athletes who compete yearly  at the national CrossFit games (sponsored by Reebok) are avid Paleo Dieters and attribute part of their successful performance to their diet.  I welcome input from CrossFit athletes to comment on their experience.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Professor

About Loren Cordain, PhD, Professor Emeritus

Loren Cordain, PhD, Professor EmeritusDr. Loren Cordain is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. His research emphasis over the past 20 years has focused upon the evolutionary and anthropological basis for diet, health and well being in modern humans. Dr. Cordain’s scientific publications have examined the nutritional characteristics of worldwide hunter-gatherer diets as well as the nutrient composition of wild plant and animal foods consumed by foraging humans. He is the world’s leading expert on Paleolithic diets and has lectured extensively on the Paleolithic nutrition worldwide. Dr. Cordain is the author of six popular bestselling books including The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook, The Paleo Diet, The Paleo Answer, and The Paleo Diet Cookbook, summarizing his research findings.

*You can unsubscribe at anytime

Comments to this website are moderated by our editorial board. For approval, comments need to be relevant to the article and free of profanities and personal attacks. We encourage cordial debates for the betterment of understanding and discovery. Comments that advertise or promote a business will also not be approved, however, links to relevant blog posts that follow the aforementioned criteria will be allowed. Thank you.

Affiliates and Credentials