I've been on a paleolithic diet (as outlined by Dr. Loren Cordain) for three weeks so far. Is it healthy for me to do this at age sixteen? Since I run regularly as part of our school's competitive cross country group, as one of the top three, my coach constantly pesters me to "carbo-load" before races by eating large amounts of sphagetti. Now, wheat is of course off-limits, but I'd like to know if there any validity to the concept of taking in a surfeit of carbohydrates (past my current 100g limit) before bursts of intense activity. Or should I just stick to my primal diet throughout?
Paleohacks should have a big sign at the top that says: PALEO DOES NOT MEAN LOW CARB.
Low carb paleo is often targeted towards people who are overweight and unhealthy. If you are healthy, active, and not trying to lose weight, there is absolutely NO reason to go low carb. Eat any kind of potatoes (peel white potatoes), white rice, root vegetables.
That being said, the idea of carbo loading is misguided unless you are going to run a marathon. You don't want your glycogen stores to be low but they don't need to be completely topped up for normal length bouts of exercise (i.e. a 5k or 10k doesnt require massive carbo loading). That said, though, it probably won't hurt unless it upsets your stomach to eat a lot of carbs in the days leading up to a race.
The paleo diet isn't strictly low carb. There are plenty of competitive endurance athletes who follow a primal diet. Instead of binging on pasta and bread, try starches like sweet potatoes, white rice, etc.
You might also find The Paleo Diet for Athletes helpful.
I'd like to know if there any validity to the concept of taking in a surfeit of carbohydrates (past my current 100g limit) before bursts of intense activity?
Short answer: no.
Carbohydrate loading in the classic sense is rarely practiced anymore because of problems with the depletion phase, and has been largely supplanted by the use of carbohydrate gels/drinks during endurance events (marathons, bike races, etc.). Yet neither is typically of benefit in events lasting under 90mins...
In your case, as a HS x-country runner, most of your training sessions are going to be longer than the 3 mile/5K race distances. Therefore, feel free to play around with the carbohydrate content of your diet until you feel well-fueled during your training, but do not feel the need to add additional carbohydrate as a race approaches.
If your interested in performaning at your best you need more carbs especially on training days. At least 300g is a good start possibly more if your doing very long runs or sprints/heavy lifting.
Yes, I run too and do half-marathons and I might eat a SMALL carb snack night before and a balanced protein-carb mix with regular portion for breakfast. DON't OVERLOAD YOUR SYSTEM I did that once the night before and I had a HORRIBLE run the nex day. Unless you run 20+ miles competetively I wouldn't suggest it.
You can run with very low carb but if you feel better with some car have sweet potato. I have fit teenage sons. I don't control their eating but they tend to eat a lot of fats and protein and less carb and I don't notice a difference in their performance. once of my older children plays a sport of England (where we live) so is pretty fit. Her trainer is very pro protein although my daughter knows I disagree with protein shakes and other fake foods. Eat real protein, real food, not potions and lotions and man made stuff whether someone calls it paleo or "protein".