Chia seeds are growing in popularity, and more and more runners are turning to chia to help with performance and recovery.
What is Chia?
Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico.
The History of Chia
Chia seeds provided vital nourishment and were used in food and medicine in pre-Columbian times. They were a central component of the Aztec warriors’ nutrition plan.
Chia was initially introduced to the market in the form of terracotta “pets” (teddy bears, puppies, kittens, rams, bulls and even trees) that grew when you watered them.
The Benefits of Chia for Runners
Chia seeds have a lot of health benefits. For the purpose of this Running Scientist blog post, let’s focus on the positive impact that chia has on running:
Improves Endurance for Distance Runners
Chia seeds are great for distance runners, especially on days of long runs and long-distance races. Chia seeds provide performance enhancement for endurance running and have fewer calories and sugar than Gatorade.
A study published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that chia works well in training sessions over 90 minutes.
Speeds Up Recovery after Hard Workouts
Chia seeds are shown to relieve joint pain by protecting against inflammation, which is crucial for recovery after hard workouts.
Assists Runners in Achieving and/or Maintaining Low Body Fat Percentages
Specifically, chia seeds are great for a healthy late-night snack (one of my favorites).
– Nutritional boost at the end of the day
– Healthy substitute for unhealthy desserts
– Great source of fiber, which helps with regulation and limits overeating
– Makes you feel full after eating only minimal calories
The New Flax Seed
Chia seeds are richer in omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds. Unlike flax, chia seeds can be stored for long periods without becoming stale. Also, unlike flax seeds, chia does not need to be ground to make nutrients available to the body.
Sorry to disappoint all of you fish eaters; chia seeds may be a more healthful substitute for fish. Chia contains more omega-3 than salmon, and eating chia eliminates our chances of getting mercury from fish. Chia is also great for those who do not eat meat and want something with similar health benefits.
Improves Overall Health
A significant amount of research supports the consumption of chia seeds for improved general health. Plus, overall, excellent health is directly related to performance enhancement. Improve your overall health and better your running performance.
The Running Scientist Way of Eating Chia Seeds
Chia seeds absorb ten times their weight in water. Try soaking chia seeds in water and allowing them to sit. By doing this, chia forms a gel that can be added to almost anything.
Researchers suggest that this reaction also takes place in the stomach. This slows the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar.