Benefits of chia seeds for athletes
Nature is a bloody marvellous thing - take the humble little chia seed for example. This small, unremarkable-looking seed is an athletic powerhouse of near superhuman proportions packing multiple nutritional performance benefits into its unassuming grey shell. It’s hard to believe one simple food could do so much which is why we’re breaking down the full benefits of chia seeds for athletes here today.
Chia seeds: pack a punch
It’s become common in sports nutrition for one ingredient to perform one function (eg: whey protein powder = protein, maltodextrin = carbohydrate, etc) but this is stone age thinking. In nature, every food contains a multitude of properties from vitamins and minerals to carbs, fats and proteins.
To decimate the power of any food source and synthetically reduce it to having just one property makes no sense. Particularly for athletes - when you are demanding the most of your body, you have to give it the most in fueling and nutrition, not the least.
With so much awesome power available in nature, at 33Fuel we shun all synthetic junk ingredients and harness nature’s strongest superstar performers directly letting them deliver their performance benefits direct to you with no messing about. Check out the multiple benefits of chia seeds below and you’ll get an idea of what we’re talking about!
Benefits of chia seeds for athletes #1: strong, stable energy
Hell yes baby, these seeds are a mighty energy source which naturally deliver that strong, stable energy base aerobic athletes dream of. The sort of base you can comfortably work off for hours, and all without energy-sapping peaks and troughs.
How do chia seeds do this?
It’s all down to them being a whole food (the seeds must be whole, not ground for this to work properly) which the body naturally takes time to digest. As the tiny seeds are digested, the carbs are released in a steady flow. Bingo, stable energy!
They also have a great fibre content which also assists in this energy stabilisation. Some athletes who are not used to using chia seeds are concerned this fibre content will cause stomach issues, but this isn’t the case with chia because it has been proven over hundreds of years as one of the best and most stable endurance foods on the planet.
- The Tarahumara Indians, the tribe of ultrarunning legends at the heart of Christopher McDougall’s seminal running book ‘Born to Run’ have fueled on chia for their long runs forever
- Four-time Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington recently came second and then first respectively in her first two ultramarathons fueling throughout with our Chia Energy Gels, a unique gel based on whole chia seeds
- UK ultrarunner Damian Hall recently nailed 12th place at the 103-mile Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) with our Chia Energy Gels
- Endurance adventurer Luke Tyburski completed his 12-day, 2,000km solo triathlon from Morocco to Monaco fueling with our Chia Energy Gels throughout too
- Thousands of happy 33Fuel customers have raced, trained and crushed thousands (millions?) of miles worldwide with reviews so awesome its almost embarrassing!
In short, the fibre in chia seeds is not an issue for athletes, it is a massive win. Boom!
Fuel with chia, stay strong right to the end
Benefits of chia seeds #2: hydration help
Add water to chia seeds and they naturally absorb 10-12 times their bodyweight in liquid. When you then digest the seeds, this liquid is naturally released slowly, which helps maintain great hydration naturally.
Benefits of chia seeds #3: they’re the highest plant-based source of good fats
Absolutely packed with Omega 3 fatty acids, chia seeds are the business when it comes to a clean-burning, powerful fat source in your diet.
Why would you want this? Because increasing the good fat content in your diet is one of the biggest ways of improving your body’s ability to fuel from stored fat which is the foundation on which all aerobic performance is based.
If you’re too dependent on carbohydrates for fuel, then in any endurance event you will need a ton of them. This leads to stomach distress, poor performance and longterm health issues as your body rebels against the high doses of fast carbs.
But if you’re well fat adapted, your carb requirements reduce because you’re able to get more of the calories you need during exercise from your own natural fat stores. Even in a super-lean Tour de France cyclist these stores will power you for days!
Chia seeds in your diet and race fueling strategy provide an awesome way to naturally improve your body’s fuel efficiency, fat metabolism and race day performance.
A quick note: much of chia’s good fat goodness however is contained in the shell of the seed, so make sure you use whole chia seeds - not ground - for full fat benefits.
Benefits of chia seeds #4: naturally anti-inflammatory
Thanks to that great good fat content, chia seeds are a powerful natural inflammatory which means they reduce the inflammation brought on throughout your body from hard training and racing.
The result? Faster recovery and strong support for your immune system.
Taken during exercise, they can even help this process begin early, letting you reach the finish line in stronger and more comfortable shape.
Benefits of chia seeds #5: high in antioxidants
Chia seeds are loaded with natural antioxidants, which mop up the free radicals produced in the body by hard exercise. Unchecked, these slow recovery in the short term and have more serious health implications longterm. With their antioxidant content, chia seeds are a great and easy way to clear up these free radicals and further speed up post-race or post-session recovery.
Benefits of chia seeds #6: pure protein power
Chia seeds are a total protein powerhouse, quite literally - they contain 18 of the 22 amino acids, including all nine essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and the essential ones are the ones we cannot naturally produce in our bodies so they have to come from our diet. Chia covers this protein hit perfectly.
Packed with protein, chia seeds' benefits just keep delivering
How to eat chia seeds:
- Sprinkle onto salads and deserts
- Blend into smoothies
- Mix a tablespoon in water with a squeeze of lemon for a refreshing drink
- Use our Chia Energy Gels to harness the power of chia for your workouts and races
- Soak overnight in coconut, soy or almond milk for a delicious chia pudding
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