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 qualitiesBut is this tiny seed’s superfood reputation warranted or a merely a myth evolved
from its ancient origins?
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