Though the basics of effective weight loss plans are about reaching a calorie deficit, it’s not necessarily that simple. What you eat is just as important as how much you eat – and more importantly, eating the right foods will help you to keep your energy levels up and stop you dipping into the snack cupboard. That’s why teff could be the switch-up your diet has been waiting for.
What is teff?
“Teff is a tropical grain and is one of Ethiopia’s staple foods,” explained nutritionist Alice Yeates, who works with London-based brand Tobia Teff.
“It is usually made into flour for cooking and baking; it has grown in popularity in the West because of it being naturally gluten free.”
The grain has been around for years and is the go-to carbohydrate for Ethiopia’s elite runners, including Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Haile Gebrselassie.
But as awareness of the versatile grain grows, it’s being dubbed “the new quinoa” with Hollywood A-listers including Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham said to be fans.
So what makes it so healthy – and superior to other grains?
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The nutty-tasting grain can be cooked a little like quinoa to make a porridge-like dish – though this isn’t the healthiest way to eat it.
“Be aware that when made into porridge or traditional Ethiopian injera, the glycaemic index is higher because the water gelatinises the starch,” warned Alice.
However, teff is often made into a flour to use for baking cakes or bread, which is why it’s become so popular in recent years with the rise in demand for gluten-free flours.
While bread and baking aren’t exactly the mainstays of any weight loss plan, substituting your usual flour for teff – or adding it into your diet in other ways – could help you to snack less as well as give you the nutrition you need to keep your energy levels up.
“Teff is high in fibre which slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream, better than most gluten free flours,” commented Alice, who recommended Tobia Teff Organic Brown Flour.
“It is higher in protein than regular wholegrain flour, containing about double the quantity, which is a good thing as this also slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream, and means that the carbohydrates from teff are absorbed more slowly.”
Keeping your blood sugar on an even keel is essential if you’re watching your weight.
“When we eat sugar the body produces insulin to manage the blood sugar,” Alice explained.
“When there is extra sugar this excess is put down as fat. This means that keeping our insulin production down by balancing the blood sugar helps us to not gain weight.”
What’s more, the high protein content is essential for anyone trying to lose a few pounds, especially on a low calorie diet.
If you’re eating less, when your body burns fat it can also break down the protein in your muscles – which isn’t the outcome you want if you’re trying to get lean.
Therefore eating plenty of protein is a must in order to maintain muscle mass.
Teff’s high fibre is also beneficial for weight loss because it will help you to feel fuller for longer, aid digestion and feed the good bacteria in your gut – all of which will help you to stick to your weight loss plan.
So how should you use it?
“I would use it in baking, either in bread or in cakes,” advised Alice.
“I always suggest to clients that they substitute half the flour content with ground almonds or almond flour to add protein, so a cake made with half teff and half ground almonds is a great option.”