For those who have read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, you know the Tarahumara runners eat chia seeds (ancient superfood) for fuel and energy on their ultra runs (50 – 100 miles). Chia seeds are high in protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, calcium, iron, manganese and phosphorous. When soaked in water, they form a thick, gel like mass. It is believed when Chia seeds are eaten, the gel-forming reaction occurs in the stomach, forming a barrier between carbohydrates and digestive enzymes, thus slowing the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar. The result is a super slow release of energy. The other result of this gel-forming reaction is the retention of water which means water loss is minimized and electrolyte balance is maintained for longer. The Tarahumara combine chia seeds, water and lemon or lime to form a thick drink they consume before their runs. On half and full-day trail runs, I eat the dry seeds and chase it with water.
I have experimented with chia seeds during my training and I find they are quick and easy to eat before a run. My favorite pre-run snack is to eat 3 or 4 spoons of Chocolate Chia Pudding which combines the benefits of chia with cocoa powder (caffeine), brown sugar (quick energy) and soy milk (calcium). Enjoy!
Chocolate Chia Pudding
- 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 1 cup soy milk (original or chocolate … for a real chocolaty experience)
Mix cocoa powder and brown sugar together until smooth. Stir in chia seeds and soy milk. Let mixture rest and then stir again. Repeat a few times for 20 minutes.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours to overnight.
- If you want some extra caffeine, add 1 tsp. instant coffee powder to the pudding.
- If you want some extra energy, drizzle 2 tsp. honey over pudding.