Loving the BITE: Chia For a Long Lasting Energy Source
And, while it may be small, it works wonders to soak in fluids, gel up, and provide long-lasting energy and volume for foods. Many athletes use it because they’ve heard the stories of amazing athletes using it throughout history. Others, like me, are now just joining in. This week, we’ll use the humble chia seed to make “Overnight Oatmeal” (it provides a wonderful thickness to this simple breakfast) and discuss some Cycling Nutrition Chia options.
Recipe of the Week: Overnight Chia Oats
- 1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/3 cup milk (any kind)
- 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- 2 teaspoons real maple syrup or organic honey
- ½ cup fresh berries or other chopped fruit
Place all ingredients in bowl or mason jar. Stir or shake (if in covered mason jar) well. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight. Serve cold or heat up on stove-top or microwave in the morning. Easier, faster, and WAY more healthy (were talking 10+ grams of fiber and 12+ grams of protein) than the ol’ packet of sugar oats.
Whether or not you’re a runner (good cycling cross-training, right?), you may have heard of the book Born to Run. Personally, I love this book. It’s a wonderfully entertaining, well-written story of incredible endurance athletes, great racing, and the love of sport. If you’ve read it, or heard about it, you may also be interested in the fuel used by these incredible endurance athletes.
According to the book, the Tarahumara People used pinole (ground corn) and chia seeds as their primary fuel. In the ever-increasing sports nutrition market, this revelation sparked a whole new interest in the ancient seed, and a whole new niche for Chia seed sports foods. While I don’t think Chia seeds are a one-stop miracle food that will solve all your problems and single-handedly get you to the top of the podium, they are a valuable nutrient-packed, high-antioxidant, long-lasting-energy seed . And surprisingly, many athletes tolerate the high fiber content well and don’t report digestional issues like you’d expect from a high fiber food. In my opinion, they make for a perfect complement to quicker energy foods/drinks on the bike.
As a long-lasting energy source, Chia seeds and Chia-based products are most appropriate for consumption 1-2 hours before a ride or during a ride that lasts longer than 2 hours. A few commercial sports nutrition options that use Chia seeds include:
- Coconutz Fuel – My full Coconutz Fuel review can be found here
- Vitalyte Chia Surge Gels
- Health Warrior Chia Bar
In addition to long-lasting, slow-and-steady-digesting carbs and fiber, Chia seeds are wonderfully versatile and have a lot to offer nutritionally. They are absolutely a great choice for everyday nutrition, anytime. In fact, they provide:
Minerals – Chia seeds are an excellent source of phosphorous, manganese and calcium. They also contain trace amounts of sodium and potassium.
Healthy fats: Chia seeds contain a high amount of plant based omega-3s. And, while these cannot replace the omega-3s from fish and seafood, they still promote reduced inflammation and overall health.
Fiber: Chia seeds are a great source of fiber at six grams per one tablespoon! Soluble fiber promotes digestive health, steady energy and blood sugars, reduced cholesterol, improved immunity, and overall wellness.
Antioxidants: Great for the athlete, Chia seeds provide healthful antioxidants that combat oxidative stress. Specific antioxidants include caffeic and chlorogenic acids, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol. These nutrients have also been correlated with reduced risk of cancer.
Protein: Chia seeds, like quinoa seeds, contain complete proteins with all essential amino acids. Every tablespoon of chia provides 2 grams of protein.
Bonus Recipe: Muscle Sparing Protein Shake
As posted last month, our muscle sparing protein shake utilizes Chia and Protein to provide a nutrient dense, nourishing shake that can reduce overnight muscle wasting in athletes.
Chia isn’t just for your Chia Pet. It’s a great option for a filling breakfast, cycling nutrition, and protein shakes. Take it from the Tarahumara, it’s good fuel.