If you’re a Paleo athlete, you need to replace carbs post-workout for good performance in the long run. And no, I’m not talking about a tray of coconut honey-caramel chocolate-drizzled Paleo pizookies after each workout.
If you’re already well-versed in carbology (I made that word up), feel free to skip down to the lip-smacking recipes below. If not, keep reading for a short primer on carbs.
[*Note, folks who are interested in fat loss or are more sedentary likely don't need as many carbs those who are physically active people or athletes. However, you may need to play around with your carb intake to dial it in for your activity level.]
Athletes doing endurance-based or glycogen-depleting high-intensity workouts (like CrossFit, kettlebells, HIIT, etc), are prone to going too low carb because they forget to refuel with carbs post-workout (or they think Paleo is supposed to be no / low carb for everyone). If you’re a power athlete, you may want to play around with carb-cycling as another means of getting your glycogen refuel.
But how many carbs do I need? This will vary depending on many factors, so the best answer is to experiment. A very broad guideline for athletes is 50-100g in the post-workout window (ideally as soon as possible after the workout’s over).
The best source of carbs? Starchy veggies like sweet potato / yams, winter squash like butternut, root veggies like parsnips, etc are good options. This chart from Balanced Bites shows the carbohydrate content of several vegetables per 1 cup. The top 3 carb bang for the buck? Cassava (raw), plantain and sweet potato.
What about white potatoes? They tend to be vilified in Paleo, but when peeled (to avoid lectins and glycoalkaloids), they’re a great form of starch. If you have good body composition and are insulin-sensitive, you may want to try rotating them into your PWO refeed.
What about fruit? Starchy veggies contain, well, starch (chains of glucose) compared to fruit (the basic sugar of which is fructose). Glucose is more efficient at replacing the glycogen you’ve used up from your muscles during exercise. Fructose is preferentially broken used by the liver, not the muscles. Is this to say you can never, ever eat fruit? No, but it may be best to eat it post-workout, and it’s better to reach for a starchy veggie if you can.
What about safe starches like rice or tapioca? Rice is technically a grain (and therefore not “Paleo”) and while not perfect, for some folks is a decent alternative to rotate into their post-workout nutrition strategy. Tapioca is essentially starch (not a grain) so it would be Paleo and therefore acceptable. What’s not good about safe starches? They are pretty nutrient poor compared to equal volumes of their starchy veggie counterparts.
Notable comparisons (per 100 grams):
55 mg Sodium
337 mg Potassium
20 g Total Carbs
283% of daily value Vitamin A
4% of daily value Vitamin C
1 mg Sodium
35 mg Potassium
28 g Total Carbs
0% daily value Vitamin A
0% of daily value Vitamin C
I’ve collected 30 scrumptious recipes containing starchy veggie goodness into one place for you to browse and grouped them by the main veggie component.
Sweet Potato / Yams
5 Autumn Veggies (and Ways to Eat Them) from Jules Fuel
BBQ Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes from Primally Inspired
Apple Cranberry Sweet Potato Bake from Stupid Easy Paleo
Slow Cooker Chorizo Mashed Yams from Rubies and Radishes
Sweet Potato Apple Pancetta Hash from Gutsy By Nature
Sweet Potato Brussels Sprout Hash from Nicky in the Raw
Sweet Potato Chips from Hollywood Homestead
Sweet Potato Disks from Yuppie Farm Girl
Sweet Potato Fries from Hollywood Homestead
The Easiest Way to Make Sweet Potato Hash Browns from Real Food RN
Turkey Sweet Potato Pie from Beauty and the Foodie
Yam, Celery Root & Bacon Hash from Rubies and Radishes
Butternut Squash Shephard’s Pie from Primally Inspired
Delicata Squash Soup from A Girl Worth Saving
Fall Harvest Chicken Soup from Primally Inspired
Rosemary Balsamic Butternut Squash from Stupid Easy Paleo
Homemade Jamaican Banana Chips from Nourishing Time
Mashed Green Bananas from Nourishing Time
Plantain Fries from Hollywood Homestead
Puerto Rican Style Plantains (aka Monfongo) from Beauty and the Foodie
Sweet Plantain Buns from Stupid Easy Paleo
White Potatoes, Yuca, Beets, Tapioca
Oven Roasted Yuca Fries from Real Food
KosherEasy Skillet Potatoes from Real Food Outlaws
Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, Kale and Lemon from Gutsy by Nature
Rosemary Garlic Roasted Potatoes from Stupid Easy Paleo
Simple, Candied Beet Chips from Jules Fuel
Slow Cooker Baked Potato Bar from Health Home Happy
Tapioca Flour Paleo Bread from Strands of My Life
Plantain Skillet Brownies from So Let’s Hang Out
Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon and Coconut Sugar from Real Food Outlaws