The Tarahumara is a Mexican tribe of superathletes. Tarahumara literally translates to “those who run fast”. For generations, they have run up to 200 miles in 48 hours to move between Mexican settlements. Their secret? Eat chia. Lots of chia. They rely on a simple chia-infused beverage called ‘Iskaite’ to provide endurance, stamina and hydration for their common ultra-marathons (recipe below).
How does this simple seed give the Tarahumara the sustenance for insane distance running? Let’s take a look a the science behind this little superfood.
Roughly 2 tablespoons of chia contains 4 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of ALA (a plant base form omega-3 fatty acid). It’s also high in antioxidants, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, theanine, selenium, & iron.
Most energy drinks on the market today are full of sugar. Sugar can be great for energy, but your body burns through sugar FAST. It can be great for short, high intensity workouts, but after 60 to 90 minutes your body will have used up the maximum amount of sugar it can store and you’ll be out of fuel.
Chia, meanwhile, contains high levels of an omega-3 fatty acid named ALA. Think of sugar as lighter fluid, and ALA as coal. Your body can use ALA as a slow burning, sustainable form of energy. “Chia” is the ancient mayan word for “strength”, and rightfully so. Energy your body gets from chia can last much longer than today’s well marketed energy drinks.
Because of high fiber levels, chia can even help you to lose weight! Chia seeds absorbs 10-12 times their weight in water, which slows down digestion and makes you feel fuller longer. That can help you automatically consume less calories on a daily basis. Studies have also shown that chia can also help to lower blood pressure and inflammation in type 2 diabetes patients.
For best digestion and assimilation, it’s important to either grind or soak your chia seeds for a minimum of 5 minutes before consuming.
Eat like the Tarahumara! Try this simple ‘Iskaite’ recipe before your next workout:
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