Probably all trail runners would like to discover the “secret food” of the Ethiopian endurance runners that makes them run so strong. Certainly, genetics, training and so on count, but Dr. Felicina Biorci, nutritionist of the TRM Team, in this article reveals something more: the properties of a cereal, the teff.
For the past 50 years, several studies in the field of sports performance have attempted to discover the secret of the success of long-distance Kenyan and Ethiopian runners, in search of the ingredient that could improve athletic performance.
Since Childhood, these athletes perform 5-20km of daily running to move from one place to another. In terms of quantities, their diet is in line with international indications for endurance athletes: carbohydrates between 6 and 10g / kg of body weight and proteins between 1.3 and 2.2 g / kg of weight.
Therefore quantities are very similar to other athletes. So, let’s try to qualitatively analyze what these carbohydrates are made of, to understand if a part of the secret of such success is hidden elsewhere.
Analyzing the composition of the carbohydrates consumed, it emerges that most of it consist of injera, a cereal made from teff flour, an ancient seed that belongs to the family of grasses.
However, the teff is a cereal with very particular characteristics. It has 9 times the quantity of calcium versus normal wheat: 167mg teff versus 19mg wheat (per 100g of food); 8 times the quantity of iron: 5.7mg teff versus 0.7 wheat; 3.8 times the amount of potassium: 477mg teff versus 126mg wheat; 117 times the quantity of vitamin B1: 11.7mg teff versus 0.1 wheat; 17 times the quantity of vitamin B2: 0.5mg teff versus 0.03 wheat.
To all intents and purposes, therefore, the teff is an extremely performing food.
It is also gluten free. To try and then … run!
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Digital Strategic Marketing Director – certified Innovation Manager – in multinational companies, she is still today the only Italian female athlete to have ran 900 km and 55,000m D+ in the mountains in a single stage race (Transpyrenea 2016, 3rd women overall). She counts numerous Podiums and international Victories on races over 100k. She holds a SNaQ CONI certification as a Trail Running Coach, Athletic Trainer and in Nutrition and Sports Supplementation. Since 2014 she is President and sports executive of innovative technology startups and companies, including Trail Running Movement and Digital Sport 360. She trains elite trail running athletes and she teaches in trail running coach certification courses. She is an author of sports articles on training, nutrition and supplementation in trail running and running, both in Italian and in English and Spanish. She manages relationships and collaborations with Federations and Race Organizers.