Tapioca: The particularly nutrient-rich & highly dosable energy source
General information about tapioca (starch)
Tapioca or tapioca starch is obtained from the roots of the so-called cassava plant, which is found in equatorial regions (Africa, Asia, South America).
The roots of the plant, which belongs to the spurge family, are poisonous in their raw state. Therefore, they must be well processed. The product that results from this process is called tapioca starch. Cassava is the common name for the roots of the plant.
Tapioca comes in the form of flour, semolina, flakes and pearls. While the pearls are popular for bubble tea, tapioca as a starch is often used as a thickener and binder in desserts or soups.
Especially in Brazil, tapioca is part of the daily cuisine and is used in many dishes.
Tapioca: effect and nutritional values
Values per 100 g
Essential amino acids
Supports fiber intake
Most athletes have trouble meeting the recommended daily intake of about 30 grams of fiber. Tapioca, at about 1.8 g, does not have an enormously high fiber content.
Incorporating tapioca into your diet, however, can still help increase your fiber intake and promote gut health.
This is because dietary fiber supports intestinal activity and prevents constipation. They can bind harmful metabolic products in the intestine and help your body to break down and ward off toxic substances.
Other benefits of adequate fiber intake include lowering cholesterol levels and maintaining blood sugar levels.
A good source of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese
Together with vitamin D, calcium is one of the most important nutrients for healthy bones, hair and teeth. In addition to building and maintaining bones, calcium supports the interaction between muscles and nerves, promotes blood clotting and the defense against inflammation or allergies, and protects you from muscle cramps.
Calcium is especially important for endurance athletes. Because it supports you in recovering quickly from athletic stress. Tapioca also contains 20 mg of potassium / 100 g tapioca. High amounts of potassium are lost through sweat during sports.
However, too much potassium loss should be avoided at all costs, because potassium plays an important role in heart and muscle function and in nerve conduction.
Iron deficiency is a very common problem among athletes. This is especially true for female athletes involved in endurance sports. Iron deficiency significantly affects the performance and quality of life of those affected. Any additional source therefore offers an advantage.
Among other things, iron plays an extremely important role in the adequate supply of oxygen to the cells. Because only with the help of iron can the blood bind oxygen and transport it further to the working muscles. Therefore, an adequate supply of iron is of utmost importance, especially for endurance athletes.
The trace element manganese has the beneficial property of protecting mitochondria (the power plants of cells) and red blood cells (oxygen transport) from harmful oxidation by free radicals.
Through manganese it is also possible that the carbohydrate breakdown is implemented more efficiently and regeneration of the bones are supported.
Important essential amino acids
Essential amino acids are vital amino acids and must be supplied to the organism from external sources, e.g. through food.
One of the most important functions of amino acids is their property as a basic building block for proteins, i.e. protein. They are the precursor for protein synthesis in the body and are used to build body protein. Among other things, this is crucial for building, maintaining and repairing new muscle mass.
In addition, essential amino acids are the starting products of a wide variety of compounds that perform important metabolic functions in the body.
Amino acids found in greater amounts in tapioca include glutamic acid (90 -149 mg), arginine (60 – 99 mg), and aspartic acid (35 – 58 mg), as well as lysine (20 – 34 mg) and leucine (17 – 29 mg).
Easy to digest and allergy friendly
Tapioca starch has a very low allergy potential and is extremely easy to digest.
In addition, tapioca starch is not only vegan and gluten-free, but also nut- and grain-free. This is beneficial for athletes with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or nut allergy.
But even without these allergies, a gluten-free and vegan diet plays an important role for many athletes. Therefore, tapioca starch in flour form can be a good alternative to conventional flours.
Many carbohydrates – and tasteless at the same time
Carbohydrates play an elementary role in the provision of energy during athletic exertion.
Especially during intense training sessions or competitions, the supply of quickly available carbohydrates is crucial so that the power does not run out. This also avoids that your body has to resort to energy from proteins. That would be exceedingly harmful.
Every athlete knows that it can be difficult to supply the body with enough carbohydrates to avoid a (too high) energy deficit, especially during very high loads. Tapioca contains almost 85 g of carbohydrates per 100 g, making it a very good, high-dose energy source!
Another advantage is that tapioca is completely tasteless. This allows a relatively large amount to be added without a product tasting unpleasantly sweet.
Especially during long-lasting stress, too much sweetness can become unpleasant for athletes.
Tapioca in sports nutrition
Due to the described benefits, we use tapioca as an elementary ingredient in our RACE CARB X. The carbohydrate concentrate was created together with world-class triathlete Laura Philipp specifically for long-term endurance competitions.
The special mixture of different carbohydrate sources (besides tapioca starch, also rice syrup and fructose,) makes it possible to absorb up to 120 g of carbohydrates per hour – when taking 150 ml of the concentrate.
Important: We recommend to test such high dosages in advance of a competition (“train the well”), so that the tolerance is given in any case!