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Ch-Ch-Ch Chia

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Ok, @djiceburgs, something worth reading.

In a study titled “Omega 3 Chia Seed Loading as a Means of Carbohydrate Loading” that appeared in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, chia seeds were used in place of an all carb. drink loading strategy to study if it had any positive effect on performance among sub elite runners. Chia seeds are described as, “rich and unprocessed whole food source of Omega 3 fatty acids. They contain all the essential amino acids and are high in antioxidants. They are also rich in fiber and absorb up to 10 times their weight in water allowing the slow absorption of sugar into the body.”

Studies have shown that a carbohydrate loading strategy after a short-term, high intensity workout enables runners to attain more than normal glycogen levels (what we mostly use for energy at the high aerobic level). As a control, participants were instructed to drink Gatorade as a liquid carbohydrate source. Total LIQUID carbohydrate intake for the study was 8g per kg of body weight. So for a 135 lb. person that would be approximately 486 grams of carbs per day consumed in liquid form (runners in the study complained this was too much to drink). Participants were given pre-measured amounts of Gatorade (because previous studies have shown carb drinks are better than water in glycogen storage and performance) equaling 6 grams per kg of their body weight. The rest of the carbs would be consumed through their normal diet. V02 max testing, time trials at a 10k distance, and questionnaires were used to measure results.  A two week “washout” period was used to make sure no effects from the control study was present. The same group was then given a 50/50 mix of chia seeds and Gatorade that would give the same amount of carbs.  per kg. of body weight as the controlled study.

The loading phase was two days before the “race”. Participants were asked to perform a high intensity workout for 60mins. before starting BOTH carbohydrate loading strategies. The “race” consisted of a 60 min run on a treadmill at 65% of that runner’s V02max and a timed 10k run around a track. This was to simulate a >90 min. race duration. The tests resulted in no statistical difference on performance between the chia loading and non chia loading strategies (+/-  3 secs.).

What does this mean? This means that you can have the same results by ingesting less sugary carb drinks by replacing it with chia seed mix. The chia loading strategy is better because it provides antioxidants, essential amino acids, and fiber that regular sports drink don’t. The study concludes, “Omega 3 Chia loading with additional CHO (carbohydrates) appears to be an option for CHO loading for endurance events lasting >90 minutes. This approach would allow athletes to decrease their dietary intake of sugar while increasing their intake of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids.” Remember, our body also burns fats as an energy fuel. In fact, our bodies burn both fat and glycogen as fuel, just at different ratios. A good store of fat and glycogen at all times enable us runners to power through varying degrees of aerobic activities. Long slow run=higher ratio of fat burned. Faster tempo runs=higher ratio of glycogen burned. Long slow runs teaches our bodies to use fat first as an energy source (we have more fat than our muscles can store glycogen) which will get us through the wall and finish strong at the longer races using our glycogen stores. So, chia seeds is a good way of attaining the same benefits of an all sport drink load, while cutting  back on simple sugar and adding to our storage of fat.

There you go, @djiceburgs! Keep drinking that chia drink:-)

Omega 3 Chia Seed Loading as a Means of Carbohydrate Loading


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