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High fat low carb Paleo diets help with exercise and weight loss succes

Go Paleo for power.
Go Paleo for power.
Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images for BET

Do you associate athletic success with carb-loading? The latest studies contradict that assumption, indicating that high fat low carb diets are powerful for athletes as well as dieters, reported the Richmond Register on Saturday.

One study evaluated different percentages of fat in the diet. Low-fat dieters ate 16 percent of their calories in fat grams, while the moderate group consumed 30 percent and the high-fat diet group ate 42 percent.

Athletes who ate more fat experienced no negative affects. Instead, the low-fat group appeared to suffer adverse effects.

Paleo low carb diet guru and athlete Mark Sisson also tested the impact of shifting to a higher fat diet by using his own body to play guinea pig. Mark explained that as a runner, he initially ate a traditional high carb diet. But when his health failed, he discovered he benefited more by going against the grain and following a high fat low carb Primal plan, he told Palm Springs Life in an interview published Friday.

"The Paleo diet seeks to eliminate processed foods — grains, sugar, and oils like corn, soy, and canola — and gets back to real food, including meat, fish, fowl, eggs, seeds, nuts, and some fruits," explained Mark, author of "The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy."

Recalling how he felt before he abandoned his high carb diet, Mark said, "I fell into the paradigm of eating complex carbs for fuel. I got fit, and fast, but my health declined. I was one of the top runners in the country but had many health ailments."

How long does it take to reap the benefits of a Paleo diet, including weight loss and improved sleep? Less than a month, says Mark.

"Over time, you become good at burning off your own body fat for energy rather than depending on carbohydrates throughout the day," he explained. "It takes about 21 days for your body to switch to this mode of fat-burning, and that’s when you’ll really start to see results."

And he's not the only expert to recommend the Paleo way for athletes. By planning your diet as carefully as the Los Angeles Lakers' team line-up, you can score both in terms of weight loss and health, said Director of the Lakers PRO Nutrition Program, Dr. Cate Shanahan, in a podcast with host Ben Greenfield.

Author of "Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food," Dr. Cate emphasizes that cutting carbohydrates is critical to health and weight loss. Rather than stress about counting calories, she puts the emphasis on eating high quality protein (think grass-fed beef) and boosting fats.

But just as not all calories are created equal, Dr. Cate says that not all fats should be consumed. In particular, she recommends avoiding trans fats while enjoying whole dairy such as eggs and butter. In addition, she recommends eating more vegetables than fruits.

When it comes to animal protein, Dr. Cate advises preparing poultry, fish and meat with natural ingredients. For example, use olive oil rather than reduced fat substitutes such as low-cholesterol spreads.

Both Dr. Cate and Mark Sisson emphasize avoiding processed foods. Mark has authored a cookbook illustrating how to use Primal ingredients for all types of low carb diets: "Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals: Delicious, Primal-approved meals you can make in under 30 minutes."

The Lakers team agrees when it comes to the merits of this type of eating. Dr. Cate has educated them on the merits of their new diet, and they carefully "avoid sugar, processed foods and unhealthy oils – vegetable, canola, corn and other chemically engineered cocktails," according to CBS Sports.

"She's not pushing supplements on us," Lakers point guard Steve Nash said. "It's all natural foods. There's nothing processed."