Okay, so She-Ra says, “honor” and He-Man says, “power.” I surely wouldn’t turn into a bulky, tanned-up, sword-wielding hero in speedos… ya follow me?
I may not have She-Ra’s beautiful golden tresses, a rad pegasus-unicorn, or an awesomely-80’s theme song. But man, I feel like I have her super-strength—or more endurance for that matter—when I take a tablespoon of chia seeds in the morning.
There’s been a lot of buzz about chia seeds lately, it was mostly popularized by the book, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall which documents the lives of the Tarahumara Indians who run hundreds of miles in the brutal Copper Canyons of Mexico. During these runs, they would only eat chia seeds for nourishment. I personally haven’t read the book, but heard about the wonders of chia through my brother-in-law who has read it. Somehow my mom found out about chia, perhaps through my brother-in-law as well.
My mom is a funny lady…when she finds the latest health fad she thinks it’s the answer to everything. “Oh you’re tired? Here, eat these chia seeds.” “These chia seeds will make you lose weight.” (Mom, I’m not overweight. No, I don’t want to eat chia.) For a year, she’s been trying to offer me chia seeds—sneaking it into shakes or any drink she gives me. I’m always reluctant with what my mom offers me so I’ve resisted the chia “fad.”
I don’t know exactly what caused me to have a change of heart. For sure it has to do with running. Perhaps I was just feeling unsatisfied with my morning pre-run regimen of a Clif bar and green tea. I just didn’t have enough fuel towards the end of my runs and I was tired of caffeinating to get my energy up post-run. Since I have a few more weeks before the half marathon, I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to see if I can add chia to my “running diet.” If it doesn’t work, I can always remove it.
Last week, I had a tablespoon of chia seeds soaked in water before my morning runs along with my regular Clif bar and green tea. I didn’t notice much of a difference with my weekday runs, except for my 8×400 speedwork (for non-runners, it’s 8 alternating sets of 400 meters of running fast and 400 meters of running slow). I didn’t tire as quickly—but at the time, I attributed my energy to the change of scenery since I did it on a length of sidewalk instead of a track.
Enter the 9-mile long run…
Sunday morning, things were not normal. I usually run on a Saturday but I had to do it Sunday since my husband was committed to a Saturday morning mountain hike with friends (I had to be with the kids). I had a time limit on Sunday since my kids had to be at a morning class. I was also out of Gatorade and made my own “electrolyte drink” out of orange juice, honey, water and salt (weird, but it tasted good). Taking all these into consideration, I was in an awkward state. The run started off slow, but it always does on the dreaded, “Holy Toledo” hill which always lives up to its name (which I named). Once I hit 4 miles, things turned around and my pace increased. It must have been the “power of chia” absorbing in my system or the fact that I did a bit of downhill running which gave me more confidence. The real test was the uphill run on the way home. I kept pace and made it home feeling like I had 3-4 miles to spare.
Yeah, I think the chia seeds worked.
So what’s the deal with chia seeds (aside from growing “fur” on a terra cotta pet)?
- It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as a list of vitamins and nutrients.
- It has 100% more potassium than a banana (read: fights the cramping)
- It’s hydrophilic — It can hold 12x their weight in water, which helps keep you hydrated during your run when taken with liquids.
- When you soak the chia seeds, it forms a gel-like substance around the seeds. This gel helps with endurance by slowing down the conversion of carbs into sugar. No sugar-crash here!
It sounds like a runner’s perfect food!
So far, I’m pretty impressed with the results. I usually don’t buy into the latest trends with health food. It seems like once people say that something’s good for you, there’s some study/news/etc. that states that it’s bad for you. I couldn’t find negative studies for chia seeds on the internet (because, you know, if it’s on the internet, it’s true…). So I’m hoping that all of this “perfect for the runner” food holds true.
For now, I’ll to go into my double-digit runs taking my chia seeds in the morning. Then I’ll head out and sing my theme song… “Lis-sa! Lis-sa! (da da dada da-rut-da da).”
Have you added chia to your diet? How do you use it? Comment below!
Disclosure: I was not compensated by She-Ra or Spectrum Essentials for this post. All opinions are my own.