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Tarahumara Diet for Beginners
Daily Dietary Intake, Benefits & More

Rafid Nassir
Published by Rafid Nassir
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: February 11, 2021

Ever since Christopher McDougall published his book Born to Run based on his experience with the Tarahumara people, the diet information and barefoot running became a new trend in the US. If you’re interested in barefoot and minimalist running, keep reading because I’ll share the Tarahumara diet information.

“You don't stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.”

 

Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

The Tarahumara Tribe

The Tarahumara Tribe Background

To understand the diet better, you need to know about its creators. The diet comes from the Tarahumara tribe that lives in the Sierra Madre Mountains’ high terrains in Northern Mexico.

The tribe is incredibly famous for having an athletic physique and being endurance runners.

The Tarahumara people consider themselves to be running people with exceptional endurance. Long-distance running is a part of their everyday life. They run up to 500 miles a week.

Now that’s taking ultramarathon running to a whole new level!

What keeps them athletic is the Tarahumara diet. It’s mainly plant-based, only occasionally supplemented with meat. Still, I bet this will give you some ideas on how you can adjust it to your vegan lifestyle. But the best diet that keeps you fit & healthy is the vegan weight loss diet by far.

Dietary Guidelines for Runners

This diet mainly includes vegetables and plants that are high in carbohydrates. No matter how great of a runner you are, you need lots of carbs to keep your energy levels high. The Tarahumara runners also don’t rely much on meat and dairy, unlike the western culture.

Moreover, they also consume processed foods in low quantities. Nonetheless, they’re known for their locally produced beer, known as Corn Beer. The beer has high carbohydrate and low alcohol content. Very often, the tribe drinks Corn Beer during races and other sporting events.

You’ll agree this is a very unique diet. But no matter how strange it may seem, the diet is low in cholesterol [1]. The Tarahumara Indians are also very energetic because their menu includes low sugar content.

Just take a look at their daily dietary intake:

  • Protein intake — 87 grams per day;
  • Fat — includes 12% of calories, 2% of saturated fats;
  • Cholesterol — below 100mg per day;
  • Fiber — 18–20 grams per day;
  • Carbohydrates — 75–80% of calories;
  • Salt — 5–8 grams per day;
  • Vitamins A, B, and C — high intake, along with calcium and iron.

The Tarahumara runners mostly eat beans, maize, squash, and other greens. They also eat freshwater fish and chicken, although this makes up for less than 5% of their diet. The diet brings many health benefits. Members of the tribe have a low number of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer cases.

Pinole Drink and Its Benefits

a pinole drink in a jar

Besides the Corn Beer, there’s also the Pinole. This is a staple in the diet of the Tarahumara runners. It’s one of the primary sources of healthy nutrients that increases their energy, endurance and enhances recovery.

Apart from being rich in Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and C, Pinole is also packed with antioxidants, has moderate protein levels, and low fat content.

If you want to make the drink yourself, first, you’ll need to dry out corn kernels in a freezer. You’ll then want to put the grain in the oven at a low temperature until they’re dehydrated.

Next, spread the kernels in a non-stick pan and roast them until they get brown and expand. Lastly, add them to a grinder or a food processor and grind until you get a fine texture.

If you want more flavor, you can add:

  • Chia seeds
  • Half teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • One tablespoon of brown sugar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon of pink salt.

Finally, add a tablespoon of Pinole to three cups of water, and it’ll be ready to go. It definitely differs from other chia recipes. The chia seeds may make the texture gooey, but they’ll provide you with energy and maybe a bit of a placebo effect.

The Tarahumara Running Technique

What’s most interesting is the tribe’s running technique. They don’t wear running shoes; they run barefoot. They prove that a runner needs nothing more than their own feet to train. Tribe members are known for running even on uneven terrain.

Their technique is focused on the arms, shoulders, and hands of the runner. What’s more, they experience very few injuries.

Would You Try Tarahumara Diet?

It’s a fact that this is a very interesting and challenging lifestyle to maintain. But would you make the shift and switch to this style to become a better athlete? Changes are scary, but what do you think of this one?

References:

  1. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejm199112123252405#:~:text=The%20Tarahumara%20habitually%20consume%20a,total%20and%20LDL%20cholesterol%20concentrations.

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