MANHATTAN, Kan. — Wheat foods are a topic that has come under intense scrutiny in the last few years, but the Wheat Foods Council (WFC) continues to arm the industry, and consumers, with science-backed nutrition facts. The WFC met in mid-January to review its new strategic plan and to give an update on the state of wheat consumption. Cindy Falk, Marsha Boswell and Jordan Hildebrand represented Kansas farmers and their need to combat anti-wheat messages.
The WFC is aiming to reach consumers through influencers, mainly dietitians and personal trainers. Dietitians have been a group that WFC has been building a well-established relationship with for years, but their sights are now set on personal trainers.
While some may be initially hesitant to ask for dietary advice from trainers, men and women in the profession report fielding more nutrition related questions than ever before. This is an opportunity for the wheat industry to reach out to trainers and share the merits that wheat can have in an active lifestyle, and so far trainers seem to be receptive.
“Paleo and low carb eating have become trendy with endurance athletes (runners, triathletes, cyclists, etc.),” said Wheat Foods Council President Tim O’Connor. “We hope to turn around personal trainers who are promoting those diets and educate the athletes to know the value of wheat foods in their diets.”
WFC has created a small advisory board with three exercise experts: Nancy Clark is an internationally-recognized registered dietitian who specializes in nutrition for exercise, Dr. Glenn Gaesser is a professor of exercise and wellness at Arizona State University and Dr. Travis Thomas is an associate professor of clinical and sports nutrition at the University of Kentucky. These three renowned experts are speaking on behalf of wheat at two major personal trainer conferences and online at the newly created Center for Nutrition and Athletics. The www.centerfornutritionandathletics.org website is a space for personal trainers to learn where nutrition and athletics meet, and where wheat foods fit into that puzzle. The industry has been widely receptive of wheat’s message thus far.
A new event for WFC is an “Enrich Your Life” 5k and spaghetti dinner in conjunction with the National Festival of Breads, which is held in Manhattan, Kansas, in June. This event aims to promote the nutritional benefits of enriched wheat foods to participants while showing how wheat can be a healthy addition to an active diet. Runners will have the option to dine on spaghetti with all the fixin’s the night before the race, in order to fuel up on energy enhancing foods.
Many runners know that they are supposed to load up on carbs before the big race, but most don’t know why. These carbs are stored as glycogen, your body’s most easily accessible form of energy, in your muscles and liver. If you run out of glycogen during a race you’ll hit the “runner’s wall,” as your body works harder to turn fat into energy.
The WFC is aiming to build a bridge between wheat farmers and athletes, both serious and casual, through their outreach with personal trainers, registered dietitian show to and their new race event. Kansas wheat producers have had an active role in the Wheat Food Council since its formation in 1972. The council is an industry-wide partnership dedicated to increasing wheat and other grain foods consumption through nutrition information, education, research and promotional programs. The council is supported voluntarily by wheat producers, millers, and related industries.
— Jordan Hildebrand, Kansas Wheat
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