Looking to amp up your workout? Training for a marathon? Striving to attain better performance? Eat grains, recommends Sarfaraz Khan, fitness trainer & nutrition specialist. In this three-part series, Sarfaraz discusses why, how, when, and which grains to eat to fuel performance.
Whether you are preparing for the big race, or just getting started on an exercise programme, it is essential to include grains, consciously, mindfully, in your nutritional regime.Yes, there is a lot of bad press about grains out there. They are difficult to digest. They lead to carb overload. They cause inflammation…
But the fact is that the right grains, consumed in the right amount, and at the right time, are one of the most efficient fuel sources for your workout. They provide you a slow-burning, fibre-rich, nutrient-dense stockpile of energy that boosts performance and aids recovery.
Now chances are you already eat grains, a lot of grains. But how do you ensure that they are the right type of grains, the grains you need to fuel performance? Well, here are three key action points you can follow to ensure that you are making the right choice.
Choose whole grains over refined grains.
Whole grains are grains intact with their bran, endosperm, and germ. Refined grains, on the other hand, are grains that have been milled, stripped of both the bran and germ. The milling gives the grains a finer texture and longer shelf life. However, it also removes many nutrients, including fibre.
Your goal, naturally then, should be to include more whole grain foods rather than refined grain products in your diet. Just being a little more conscious can help you get there.
First step, read the labels. For instance, a brown bread isn't necessarily made from whole wheat; the color may have come from added coloring. Look for the word "whole" on the label, and make sure whole grains appear among the first items in the ingredient list.
Then try some simple substitutions:
- Whole grain cereals, such as oatmeal, instead of processed cereals.
- Brown rice instead of white rice
- Whole wheat bread or roti instead of white bread
- Alternatives such as buckwheat, whole wheat flour instead of refined flour
Interpret Pseudo-Grains & Millets as Grains
Be a little liberal with the interpretation of grains. Feel free to include pseudo-grains and millets in your “grain” diet. You will have more variety to choose from.
Pseudo grains, like Amaranth and buckwheat, are foods that resemble grains from the perspective of the person eating them but are not biologically members of the same group. Including them provides you
gluten-free options. Millets are coarse grains and carry huge nutritional advantages.
Grains often get a bad rap for being tough on the digestive system. Go organic. The toxin-free, safe grains, with their all-natural profile, will be easier to assimilate.
- Sarfaraz Khan, Fitness Trainer & Nutrition Specialist.