The Ethiopian ancient superfood fuelling runners
Looking for something to help you go that extra mile? Look no further than your plate.
It’s no surprise that a healthy diet is the foundation to athletic performance. Whether you are a weekend warrior or professional athlete, what you put on your plate is just as important (if not more!) than your training schedule.
Our hero grain, Teff, may be the secret ingredient to boosting your performance – but how can one tiny grain make such a massive impact? We believe that it is the secret ingredient to beating your personal best. In-fact, Ethiopian Long-Distance Runners have credited their success to the grain!
There are 3 main reasons for why YOU should include Teff on your plate – it’s source of slow releasing energy, iron and protein.
Teff is a source of complex carbohydrates – meaning that its starches are slowly broken down in the digestive tract, providing slow-releasing energy, perfect for your long-distance and endurance activities. Unlike simple carbohydrates (like refined grains, white bread and pasta), Teff has staying power to fuel your workout from the first step until the last. Looking for an easy pasta swap for your next pre-race meal? Try our Teff Fusilli made with 100% Teff flour.
Feeling tired and unable to get through your endurance sessions? You may want to look to your iron intake and absorption – especially if you are vegetarian.
Why is it important?
Iron is an important mineral because of its role in oxygen transport, DNA synthesis, and energy production – the very energy you need to hit the pavement! It’s not uncommon for athletes to be iron-deficient, as it is difficult for our body to absorb iron from foods. Studies have shown that consuming a high-iron diet can help boost the aerobic capacity of endurance athletes – count us in!
Female athletes (especially runners) and vegetarian athletes are at risk of low-iron levels. While you can find many supplements on the market, iron supplements can often irritate your digestive system. Look to your kitchen (and Teff!) instead of the drugstore to increase your iron intake. Looking for an easy iron-rich pre-race breakfast? Try a bowl Brown Teff porridge!
For athletes, protein is a key part of a healthy diet for maintenance, repair and growth of lean muscle mass. Proteins are made up of building blocks called “amino acids”. There are 9 amino acids that we rely on our diet for– but grains are known to be unbalanced in their amino-acid make-up. Teff on the other hand, has a well-balanced amino acid profile (with a high concentration of lysine, which many grains lack), making Teff a great choice for runners looking for plant-based proteins to build and repair their hard-working muscles. Did you know… Ivory Teff has a slightly higher protein content compared to Brown.
While we can’t promise that adding Teff to your diet will turn you into an ultramarathon runner, we believe that BIG things come in small packages – and Teff is no exception, packing in complex carbohydrates, iron and plant-protein making it the perfect pre (or post!) race meal to fuel your next adventure.
This article is not intended to replace medical or nutrition advice from your medical doctor or dietitian. Please discuss changes in your diet with a registered professional.
Baye, Kaleab. (2014). Teff: Nutrient Composition and Health Benefits.
Alaunyte, Ieva et al. “Iron and the female athlete: a review of dietary treatment methods for improving iron status and exercise performance” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 12 38. 6 Oct. 2015, doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0099-2
Br J Sports Med. 2015 Nov;49(21):1389-97. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-093624. Epub 2014 Oct 31.
Alaunyte, Ieva et al. “Dietary iron intervention using a staple food product for improvement of iron status in female runners” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 11,1 50. 18 Oct. 2014, doi:10.1186/s12970-014-0050-y