First, the basics. Always choose organic whole grains to ensure that your body gets the right type of grains, the type of grains that can provide it a slow-burning, fibre-rich, nutrient-dense stockpile of energy.
Now, the specifics. Which grains can you, should you, eat?
Well, listed below are some of the great tasting grains, pseudo-grains and millets available locally in the NCR. (Pseudo-grains and millets are listed to provide variety and alternatives). Try them. You may well discover new favourites.
Oats are an endurance athlete favourite and for a good reason too. With more than ten grams of protein and nearly that same amount of fiber in a half-cup, oats provide enough energy to power you through a tough workout, enough fiber to keep you full for a while, and enough protein to make sure you have gas left in the tank toward the end of a long run or ride. Oats are a good source of iron too. One serving of oats meets roughly 10 percent of your daily iron needs.
Eating suggestion: Oats are your breakfast staple, but why not do things a little differently. Try them with greens and an egg for a savoury twist, or make overnight ats for a filling on-the-go snack.
Amaranth (Ramdana, Chaulai Dana)
If you aren’t eating this gluten-free superfood yet, please start ASAP. Along with carbohydrates, the pseudo-grain Amaranth delivers high-quality protein too. As a protein source, Amaranth contains all nine essential amino acids. It also provides calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium, all of which aid in recovery.
Eating suggestion: Have it for breakfast as you would a bowl of oatmeal: with fresh fruit, a handful of nuts, and cinnamon.
This pseudo-grain is the perfect recovery food. It is high in an antioxidant called rutin, which helps fight off inflammation produced from training. It also stimulates the production of collagen.
Eating suggestion: Try buckwheat groats instead of the usual morning cereals, or slip some into your favourite soup or chilli recipe instead of pasta or rice.
The millet contains a ton of complex carbs—75 percent of its makeup, in fact. This makes it an excellent source for replacing depleted muscle glycogen post-training. Also, if aiming for longer, more intensive workout, try getting a serving of sorghum in a few hours before the workout. It will keep you energised.
Eating suggestion: Sorghum works wonderfully as the hearty carb in a salad, prepped as a side for dinner, swapped for rice as a risotto base, or popped into kernels as a healthy snack,
Bajra (Pearl Millet)
Proteins, antioxidants, insoluble fibre, complex carbs - pearl millet contains a solid nutritional punch. An excellent long-acting source of energy, it is best consumed 3-4 hours before a workout
Eating suggestion: Try the traditional bajra roti and bajra khichri, or if feeling adventurous use the millet flour in baked goods and breads,
While the ubiquitous roti, tucked in a few hours before a workout, is an excellent way to power workouts, do ensure that your atta is not overly processed. Wheat products that include the bran and germ of the grain score substantially higher in terms of the complex carbohydrates, fibre and manganese they deliver
If you have a strong digestion, you should aim to include brown rice in your diet. Brown rice is rich in carbohydrates, iron, calcium, and fiber. It helps in weight training by helping build bone density.
In case you are looking for a rice variant that is gentler on the stomach try sela rice.
Do note this list of grains is not exhaustive. You may come across other, more interesting, local grains – ragi, nachni … Do experiment with them. Fuel your performance.
- Sarfaraz Khan, Fitness Trainer & Nutrition Specialist.