Remember the old Popeye the Sailor cartoons? After immediately digesting a can of spinach, Popeye would have this superhuman strength, ready to fight crime or anything else that would stand in his way. As a runner, I often look for that super food, so I can transform into a super fast runner who can run for miles and miles without even tiring.
Much to my disappointment, life is not a cartoon, and sadly, there is no easy fix for my running performance, but training hard. While you can’t pop a pill and magically transform, there are Super foods out there that help your workout performance. My latest obsession is Chia seeds.
Thanks to the book “Born to Run,” there is a lot of hype surrounding these little seeds. I can’t help but think of those Chia Pets sold commercially. Who knew that these crazy looking plants could be so jammed packed with all the good things a runner should have. A Chia seed absorbs about 9-10 times its weight in water, almost instantly creating a gel-like consistency on the tongue. Once swallowed, the gel-forming phenomenon takes place in the stomach. The gel then creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down. As a consequence, this process slows the conversion of carbs into sugar. The slowing conversion creates endurance. Prolonging this conversion once again stabilizes metabolic changes and creates a longer duration in the fueling effects of carbohydrates. The seeds are small in size and have a pleasant crunch factor. I like to throw them into pastas, salads, or even soak them in water and add them to my favorite smoothie recipes.
So why Chia seeds?
The seeds contain 20% protein, 34% oil, 25% dietary fiber, and significant levels of antioxidants. They contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, higher than in flax seeds. They can also be stored for months at a time, never going bad.
Chia not only helps to keep me hydrated during those long runs, but I have also found that the seeds can be used as an anti-inflammatory, helping to reduce swelling and the recovery of swollen joints. After using Chia for two weeks every day, I certainly did notice a difference.
How about you? Do you train with Cha, Cha, Cha, Chia?