Due to the wide-range of magical benefits (it's magic right?), the chia seed has made a strong comback in recent years. From weight loss, gastrointestinal health, mental wellness to sustained endurance for athletes. Proven facts on Chia seed have been published and shown on CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, and the Dr. Oz Show, as well as magazines like Trail Runner and Running Times. Chia seeds have even made their way onto the NFL gridiron; Baltimore Ravens’ star linebacker Ray Lewis tosses a handful in his shake every morning. But the superfood really skyrocketed to fame with its starring role in the best-selling book, Born To Run, which describes chia seeds as the indigenous (and seemingly "magic") dietary staple of the Tarahumara Indians, a tribe of super-runners in the savage Copper Canyons of Mexico, who can chalk of hundreds of miles with Scott Jurek speed, virtually no rest, and shoes that would lose a fistfight against a paper plate and some twice-used dental floss.
So what gives chia seeds their super powers? Well, the list is long, and it reads like a who’s who of vital nutrients: Omega-3 essential fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, calcium, iron, potassium, vitamins A, B, E, and D, as well as other key minerals. Even better, all that punch is wrapped up in a small package, making chia one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the market. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds contains 10 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, more calcium than milk, more Omega-3s than salmon, more iron than spinach, and more antioxidants than blueberries.
Yes, I know there’s no such thing as a magic food. But chia seeds do provide an abundance of nutrients to help people lose weight, nutrients that improve endurance, reduce inflammation, and accelerate recovery.
Below is a list of ways chia seeds can enhance your training and improve your overall health.
Provides sustained energy. Chia seeds are extremely absorbent, expanding up to ten times their original size when soaked in water and forming a gel-like substance. Because of this gel-forming action, chia seeds slow the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar, meaning the carbs you eat will be able to fuel your body for longer periods of time. The regulation of carbohydrate release also stabilizes blood sugar levels.
Combats dehydration. Because chia seeds absorb thirty times their weight in water, they help regulate body fluid levels and retain electrolytes, both key in the battle against dehydration. For long workouts in high heat and humidity, chia seeds are a handy way to prolong hydration.
Reduces inflammation and joint pain. Omega-3 essential fatty acids (think fish oil) are a proven anti-inflammatory, and chia seeds are full of them. The essential fatty acids found in chia seeds alleviate skin problems, promote brain health, and have shown to decrease the symptoms of hyperactivity disorder and hypertension.
Promotes weight loss. Because chia seeds are so high in fiber and nutritionally dense, they help you feel fuller faster and longer. The absorbent qualities regulate carbohydrate conversion, preventing blood sugar spikes and providing sustained energy. Recent studies have shown that, in addition reducing body fat, chia seeds also help prevent high cholesterol and high triglycerides.
Accelerates post-run recovery. Amino acids are the “building blocks of protein” while antioxidants are the ultimate defense against free radicals. Chia seeds are full of both. Eat them soon after your workout to jumpstart recovery.
So how do you eat chia seeds? Any way you want to. Chia seeds are ready to eat straight from the bag, unlike flax seeds, which have to be ground up in order to be digestible. Pour a tablespoon or two in your cereal, oatmeal, or smoothie. Sprinkle some over your salad, pasta, cous cous, or rice. Mix them in some cottage cheese or yogurt. The possibilities are endless.
Healthified Chia Chocolate "Pudding"
2tbsp - Chia seeds
1/2c. - unsweetened chocolate almond milk
1tbsp - cocoa powder
1/2tbsp - Erythritol (or equal parts of Swerve, Truvia)
10 drops - Stevia (omit if using Swerve, Truvia)
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. It may take some time for the cocoa to incorporate into mix, so be patient.
Chill at least 2 hours. Add 2-4 more tbsp of chocolate almond milk if leaving in fridge overnight.
1/2c. - Heavy Whipping Cream
1tbsp - pure vanilla
1tbsp - Erythritol (or equal parts of Swerve, Truvia, Just Like Sugar)
3 drops - Stevia (omit if using Swerve, Truvia, Just Like Sugar)
Train Hard = Race Easy, Train Smart = Race Fast