HOME > Health > Race-Day Nutrition
George Beinhorn Saturday, 14 April 2012 08:15 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Boost Endurance with Chia

The Tarahumara runners of northern Mexico’s Copper Canyon country have long fueled their prodigious runs with a chia-seed based drink called iskiate ...


Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Daniel Schwen

... and purveyors of ancient Ayurvedic medicine tout chia’s endurance and strength-promoting qualities. But is this tiny seed’s superfood reputation warranted or a merely a myth evolved from its ancient origins?

Trail Tested

To test this superfood, a few friends and I guzzled iskiate before runs of up to two-and-a-half hours, and were impressed with the results.

We felt strong running at a high aerobic pace (a tick under 80-percent max heart rate), even in 90-degree heat. After about an hour, I noticed a mental and physical kick. Near the run’s end, when we’d normally be planning our post-run carb binge, we felt we could happily continue.

Professor Wayne Coates of the University of Arizona, co-author of Chia: Rediscovering a Forgotten Crop of the Aztecs and an ultrarunner with several trail 100-milers under his belt, suspects chia’s ability to boost endurance is due partly to it’s inflammation-reducing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants. “It’s similar to taking ibuprofen,” says Coates.

While chia isn’t a replacement for your usual fuels—it contains very little carbohydrate—the seeds are packed with fiber and an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and copper and offer a complete essential amino-acid package, making it an ideal post-workout recovery food.

Get the Chia Charge

Make your own iskiate by mixing 1 level tablespoon of chia seeds in 1 cup of water with a squeeze of lime and 1 tablespoon of organic rice syrup to sweeten. Drink it 60 to 90 minutes before a long run of three hours or more since the seeds take up to four hours to digest.

You can buy chia seeds at health-food stores such as Whole Foods (www.wholefoods.com) or as Chia Goodness, a raw breakfast cereal that combines chia with hemp seeds, buckwheat, sea salt and dried fruit and nuts (www.ruthshempfoods.com).


This article originally appeared in our June 2010 issue.


Add comment

Security code