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Endurance runners using chia seeds

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T r a i l r u n n e r m a g . c o m June 2010

Boost Endurance with Chia

The Tarahumara runners of northern Mexico’s Copper Canyon country have long

fuelled their prodigious runs with a chia-seed based drink called iskiate and purveyors

of ancient Ayurvedic medicine tout chia’s endurance and strength-promoting qualities.

But is this tiny seed’s superfood reputation warranted or a merely a myth evolved

from its ancient origins?

Trail Tested

To test this superfood, a few friends and I guzzled iskiate before runs of up to two and-

a-half hours, and were impressed with the results.

We felt strong running at a high aerobic pace (a tick under 80-percent max heart

rate), even in 90-degree heat. After about an hour, I noticed a mental and physical

kick. Near the run’s end, when we’d normally be planning our post-run carb binge,

we felt we could happily continue.

Professor Wayne Coates of the University of Arizona, co-author of Chia: Rediscovering

a Forgotten Crop of the Aztecs and an ultrarunner with several trail 100-milers

under his belt, suspects chia’s ability to boost endurance is due partly to it’s inflammation-

reducing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants. “It’s similar to

taking ibuprofen,” says Coates.

While chia isn’t a replacement for your usual fuels—it contains very little carbohydrate—

the seeds are packed with fiber and an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus,

magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and copper and offer a complete essential

amino-acid package, making it an ideal post-workout recovery food.

Get the Chia Charge

Make your own iskiate by mixing 1 level tablespoon of chia seeds in 1 cup of water

with a squeeze of lime and 1 tablespoon of organic rice syrup to sweeten. Drink it

60 to 90 minutes before a long run of three hours or more since the seeds take up

to four hours to digest.

You can buy chia seeds at health-food stores such as Whole Foods (www.wholefoods.

com) or as Chia Goodness, a raw breakfast cereal that combines chia with hemp seeds,

buckwheat, sea salt and dried fruit and nuts (

—George Beinhorn   T r a i l r u n n e r m a g . c o m June 2010 18

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