Chia Seeds: My New Secret Weapon

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Don’t you just love this photo from Self.com?  I mean, doesn’t everyone look this airbrushed and sexy just before they workout?  Stylishly placed sweat band, pouty lips…maybe next time I workout I’ll try this whole seductive running thing and see if it helps me take some seconds off my mile.  Okay enough poking fun…

A few days before my half marathon, my step-mom, Carrie, mentioned to me that I should drink some chia seeds before my race to help with sustained energy.

So I did.

Thirty minutes before the race started I poured some chia seeds into water and drank it down.

Have you ever used chia seeds to help power your workouts?  There’s lots of evidence why chia seeds are a great pre-workout food.  Plus, they are quick and easy to consume.  I know chia seeds are the new superfood fad, but sometimes fads are worth a try if they really work.

Here’s some info about chia seeds:
(source)

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. (Keep in mind that because chia seeds have almost zero carbs, you’ll still need to take energy gels before and during your workouts.)

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. In fact, the Aztecs ate chia seeds to relieve knee pain. In addition to battling aches and joint pain, the essential fatty acids found in chia seeds alleviate skin problems, promote brain health, and have even been show 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.

Many people like to make a chia seed “drink” by soaking 1 or 2 tablespoons in a glass of water or fruit juice for 5-10 minutes. (As a rule, think 1-part chia seeds to 7-parts liquid.) The chia seeds will expand, forming a gelatinous mixture. The seeds have a very mild, slightly nutty taste. (If you drink the mixture in gulps, you wont taste them at all.)

As always, know your body. Don’t try anything new on race day or before key long runs. Remember that chia seeds are high in soluble fiber; that means they are filling and can impact your digestive tract. You may want to try chia seeds in small amounts until you learn how your body responds to the superfood.

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