Using Chia for Endurance

The ancient tribes of South America used chia as one of their staple crops. Chia originated in Mexico and Guatemala, where it grew well. The Aztecs and Mayan cultures farmed the crops because of the many benefits to their health, but one of the main reasons they used chia was for its ability to help with endurance. One tablespoon of chia seeds was known to sustain a warrior in battle for a full day! Even today, the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico's Copper Canyon use chia seeds to fuel themselves on their epic runs. The Tarahumara are known for their long-distance running ability, and chia plays a vital role in providing the fuel they need for such endurance feats.

Chia is fast becoming a favorite of endurance athletes everywhere for a number of reasons:

  • The seeds retain water, so athletes can stay hydrated for longer when they eat chia. Keeping hydrated is one the main concerns of endurance athletes.

  • Chia has a slow carbohydrate-to-sugar conversion rate, so it releases its energy slowly. This favors endurance athletes because they get a steady stream of energy, which helps prolong performance.

  • Chia helps with muscle recovery. By taking chia before exercise, the muscle pain afterward is reduced.

Dr. Wayne Coates, who rediscovered chia seeds, is a long-distance runner — he regularly runs up to 100 miles at a time. To keep himself going, he brings whole chia seeds in an old film canister so that he can refuel with chia whenever he needs to. By simply swallowing a mouthful of chia and then drinking some water, he can keep his body hydrated and fueled to keep going long distances.

Chia is appearing on more running websites and magazine as more ultra runners (people who run 100 miles or more at a time) discover the power of chia. They're using a mix of chia and water to replace the synthetic gels that are often used during such endurance exercises. Chia is the all-natural way to refuel!

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