Runners follow a wide variety of diets: gluten free, vegan/vegetarian, Paleo, high carb, high fat, plant based, dairy free, or just your normal healthy balanced diet. Whether you abstain from meat or grains, one of the few foods found in all of these diets are seeds, particularly chia seeds.
Chia seeds first rose to popularity with the best-selling book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and The Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. Christopher McDougall recounts how the Tarahumara Indians fuel their ultra-distance running with this ancient Mayan seed. Since then, runners, athletes, and healthy eaters have stockpiled their pantries with this tiny little black seeds, adding it to their smoothies, morning bowls of oatmeal, and salads.
What is so beneficial about chia seeds that they have received the honorific of “superfood?”
- Chia seeds are the richest plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of ALA. Omega-3s reduce inflammation, help manage a healthy body composition and weight, improve the appearance of your hair and skin, and boost your cognitive function. (Read some of the research on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids here and here.)
- One tablespoon of chia seeds offers 25% of your daily magnesium needs. Magnesium activates certain enzymes that are vital to energy production, which means that chia seeds will energize you throughout the day and prevent fatigue. Magnesium can also improve oxygen delivery, which can provide endurance athletes with a boost in athletic performance.
- Chia seeds abound in fiber. Chia seeds contain 5 grams of fiber per tablespoon – that’s as much fiber as in two cups of broccoli or one large apple! Fiber aids in proper digestive function, lowers your cholesterol levels, regulates your blood sugar levels, and helps you feel satiated (source).
- Chia seeds are a plant-based source of calcium. Up to 65% of adults struggle to properly digest lactose, which means plant-based sources of calcium are desirable for most people’s diets. A 1-tablespoon serving of chia seeds provides you with 9% of your daily calcium needs. Consuming enough calcium can help runners prevent stress fractures and female athlete triad.
That’s enough nutrition talk! Let’s get to the best part—eating! Chia seeds are incredibly versatile, as this round-up of recipes demonstrates. Since chia seeds expand when they encounter liquid, they make creamy oats, thick puddings, delicious drinks, and even work as egg replacers!
Chia Seed Recipe Round Up
Maple Cinnamon Chia Overnight Oats from Chicago Jogger
Beet and Bean Burgers (Vegan and Gluten Free) from This Runner’s Recipes
Matcha Chia Pudding with Sweet Dukkah from Chelsea’s Healthy Kitchen
Chia Seed Pudding (Dairy Free) from Tasting Page
Creamy Chocolate Cherry Chia Pudding from Wholly Healthy
Protein Packed Energy Bites from Tasting Page
Blueberry Vanilla Chia Pudding from Fit Foodie Mama
Strawberry Chocolate Chip Chia Parfait from A Fit Philosophy
Chocolate Banana Coconut Chia Pudding from Clean Eating Veggie Girl
Raw Raspberry Fig Chia Jam from Strength and Sunshine
Green Goodness Chia Oats from This Runner’s Recipes
Orange Chocolate Chia Buckwheat Cereal from Strength and Sunshine
Chia Seed Pudding from Lean, Clean, and Brie
Overnight Maple Raspberry Chia Pudding from RunWiki
Blueberry Beet Chia Smoothie from This Runner’s Recipes
Grapefruit Chia Fizz from RunWiki
Pumpkin Quinoa Chia Pudding from Sprint 2 The Table
Blackberry Almond Chia Pudding from Food, Pleasure, and Healthy
Coconut Chai Overnight Oats (Vegan, Gluten Free) from Fitfluential
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Quaker Bars – Recipe Makeover from The Happy Health Freak
Gluten Free Chia Seed Pudding from Fit and Awesome
5 Ingredient Vegan Chocolate Banana Overnight Oats from Uproot from Oregon
Red Velvet Chia Cheesecake from Sprint 2 the Table
Blueberry Chia Jam from Uproot from Oregon
Apple Cinnamon Chia Seed Oatmeal from This Runner’s Recipes
Questions of the Day:
What’s your favorite way to eat chia seeds? —> In my morning bowl of oatmeal!