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insects for athletes – a nutrition overview
March 14, 2018
Insects and nutrition
The idea of insects as a source of nutrition is not a new idea. They’ve been eaten around the world as staple parts of the diet for hundreds, if not thousands of years… just not in the modern western world. Why that is has many reasons, for instance shows like “I’m a Celeb” with their Bush Tucker Trials, or whichever Alien movie chooses to depict their beast by using the image of an insect, or even the idea that people only do it because they absolutely have to (which really isn’t true, they’re a delicacy in many places).
So if these are the reasons for disgust, then what is the reason to embrace insect protein?
We’re going to have a look at a use case for insects for athletes and see just how it slots in to their world. For that we’re going to focus on our Cricket Protein Powder as the main ingredient, which is also known as Cricket Flour by many.
what is cricket powder?
Cricket powder is exactly what it says on the tin; 100% cricket with no added junk or nasties. It tastes mild and nutty so suitable for both sweet and savoury foods or supplements. It’s processed in such a way to make an extremely fine powder that’s suitable for adding to thick smoothies, baking protein enriched brownies, or making protein and energy bars with. It’s limit is only what you make of it. You’ll see no whole insect… so think of how cumin powder or coco powder looks… that’s it, nothing to see here.
Cricket Powder Nutrition
Cricket powder is very high in protein; crickets can actually can be up to 70% protein in the packet which is hugely exciting. The benefit of having cricket protein is that is has all the same qualities as premium whey protein in terms of nutrition, containing all 9 essential amino acids. It also uses far less of the worlds resources to produce that protein. You can read our other blog piece – Why Eat Insects – to find out just how sustainable they are.
People talk about amino acids all the time, but how many people really know what this means and how this might be of benefit to active people? To explain simply, the 9 essential amino acids are ones that your body does not produce itself, so you have to get it from the food you eat. This is where animal proteins come in to their own, including of course insect protein. Now obviously as part of a balanced healthy diet you should get what you need on a day to day basis from a variety of fruit, veg and meat, but for sports people there are some key amino acids that help you along and following exercise you might want to be able to take on board all at once in a simple way.
Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are present in cricket protein powder in abundance. There are 3 of these BCAAs, all of them part of the 9 essentials, and they are called Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.
These 3 BCAAs reduce muscle fatigue, speed recovery, aid the absorption of protein, and finally decrease the loss of other amino acids. Essentially, they help athletes’ bodies to run more efficiently. The chart above shows that they are abundant in cricket powder.
Glycine is also present in spades (although not an essential AA), and it’s key to the transportation of nutrients around the body.
What other nutrients are in cricket powder?
There’s long been suggestion that high fibre diets lower your risk of heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.
Much of the fibre in cricket powder comes from chitin (much like shellfish contain). This is because of cricket’s genetic closeness to shellfish (see, nothing to fear here really is there). The chitin is not absorbed by the human body and is thought to absorb fat as it passes through the bowels. Studies are ongoing as to how much effect this has to see if it is a viable for weight loss.
Your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones, and your heart, muscles and nerves also need calcium to function properly.
Iron is a mineral that is found in a range of foods including beef, spinach, and crickets. It helps to transport oxygen around the body so you do actually need it to survive. Iron deficiencies can lead to tiredness as a result. It is also important for producing energy, and optimal immune function.
It’s a vitamin that helps to keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy, whilst also helps to make DNA. B12 is mostly known for it’s energy releasing properties, and actually helps to prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic enemia that makes people weak and tried.
Omega 3 & 6 Oils
Omega3 fatty acids are known for preventing and managing heart disease, whilst Omega6 plays a crucial role in brain function which can help stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism, and maintain the reproductive system.
If all that nutritional goodness didn’t inspire you enough, check our Martin Heald, our incredible ambassador who happens to be a Team GB Paralympic climber. He’s powering himself on long climbs using crickets. What a legend!
If you want to try out some sustainable cricket powder based products for yourself you can grab our Insect Sports Pack as seen below.