Thursday, October 6, 2011


Over the weekend, I started reading about Chia Seeds. They were popularized by the book, "Born to Run" which is, unfortunately, not about Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band but rather about the Tarahumara - a Native American tribe of people that live in the remote Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. They are noted for their ability to run 50 - 100 miles every day and (this is important) they enjoy it.


I haven't read the book so I have no idea why they'd all be a bunch of Dean Karnazes except perhaps there's really nothing else to do where they live. I went online to the Massachusetts public library website to place a hold on the next available copy.

At the moment, I'm more interested in homemade energy gels and bars so my attention was drawn to what the Tarahumara (they refer to themselves as the Raramuri) eat and drink. According to all of the superior and unbiased reporting on the internet (oh, I slipped into sarcasm there,) this is supposedly one of the key components of running without a sports store nearby to sell you packets of GU. One food/fuel source is Pinole which is a type of corn meal that is dry roasted. The modern version is mixed with honey and cinnamon and then either ate or drank, depending on your needs. Tesguino or "corn beer" is a high carbohydrate beer that is very low in alcohol content It's a big part of their culture during harvest season and also featured during Easter week. Another fuel mentioned is Iskiate which is a drink made with chia seeds.

These seeds, like everything else that every fad-diet promoter wants us to believe - are "THE" answer to all of our problems. They supposedly:
  • Are High in Fiber
  • Promote Hydration
  • Ounce for ounce, have more iron than spinach
  • Are SUPER high in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
  • Slow the absorption of carbs in the body, thereby extending our energy stores, enabling us to run/walk/cycle/swim/feel full longer.

Most websites that talk about Iskiate say something like this:

"Iskiate, or chia fresca, consists of chia seeds dissolved in water and seasoned with lime and a dash of sugar."

I found the seeds in the organic section of my local grocery store. Following the suggested recipe, I put a tablespoon of chia seeds into cold water, added some agave nectar, about two teaspoons of lime juice and, feeling daring, threw in a slice of candied ginger. I put the glass into the fridge to let the seeds dissolve while my husband and I discussed whether or not these seeds were the same ones they were selling at pets As Seen On TV (they are).

The seeds don't dissolve. They definitely germinated and that process formed a gel around the seeds, but there are still seeds... LOTS of seeds.

Okay, what did I miss?
"Chia seeds form a gel with water thus suspending the particles and making it a little less awkward to drink."

Okay, so they're not going to dissolve. That made me feel better but I still felt "awkward" about drinking it.

I also read that this recipe is a great energy drink in the morning. Ummm, sure it is. After all, it has sugar in it. Just about the time I decided that I can drink this concoction in the morning before I go to work, I read the following...

"Chia seeds contain hydrophilic colloid that helps for better digestion and the nutrients from the seeds are metabolized efficiently and quickly to the blood stream, resulting to immediate nourishment of the body...."

WARNING: Nearing Google Overload. Nearing Google Overload.

Is it just me, or did I just read, "better digestion..metabolized efficiently"? To me, with 1-ounce of chia containing 11 grams of dietary fiber,those types of phrases mean I should probably wait until I get home to drink this where I have access to a private bathroom and more toilet paper -just in case.

When I got home from work about 10:30 AM, I took the drink out of the fridge, stirred up the seeds, and downed it. The only flavors I tasted were the lime, ginger and the sweeteners. Even though the seeds are supposed to have a nutty flavor (yeah, imagine that,) there wasn't enough taste to the seeds for me to form an opinion but I'll admit that they did slide down rather efficiently. Then I sat on the couch, waiting to see if I had any adverse reactions to this super-bad ancient energy-boosting beverage, and while I was waiting, I fell asleep. So much for endurance testing.

Observation number one - There is no substitute for sleep.

My research continues.
Next Gen Endurance Athlete

1 comment:

  1. I think I will let you throughly test this out before I join you.

    If it works only for running, I will stick to my pink lemonade. : )