Feb 042012


Here are all of the postings from the last week. If you follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or FitnessElectronicsBlog.com, the question of the week has been,

“Do you do Chia? If not, would you be willing to try?”

Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think.

Be sure to also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and Google+. I’ve also included a few fun and interesting sites, blogs or articles that I’ve found during the week.

Friday – SRAM 2012 and a General Training Update

Thursday – Vo2 Max: Working Out With Heart

Wednesday – Part 2: How Do You Chia?

Tuesday – Chia Seeds and Triathletes – A Match Made in Heaven?

Monday – Ault Park Run


Articles, blogs, pics, videos, and just plain old stuff of interest that we found this week

  1. Was endurance exercise really this embarrassing in the eighties? Check this out!
  2. Cause for concern for Contador? Check this out!
  3. Surface transportation bill
  4. San Francisco Airport Unveils Yoga Room for Travelers

That’s it. Hope you had a great week.

Feb 012012

One benefit of chia is that it is relatively tasteless. That appeals to me because from experience, I know there is a point in a long run or ride where nothing sounds good, and some things even make you feel nauseous. Further, a tasteless seed with so many nutritional benefits is a “versatile” addition to your cupboard. Below are some ways I have enjoyed its use.

I have been “tinkering” with how best to use chia for about 2-months now. For general use, it actually works well on salads or in yogurt. “Dry” chia is good. There is a subtle nutty flavor, and not much beyond that. Be warned though that if you eat chia without soaking it first, you may be picking it out of your teeth for awhile. I have also read that some people use it on fish before grilling – I haven’t tried that yet, but I will.

For training purposes I like the following options:

  •  Training day smoothie:

    Whatever kind of smoothie you like, add a half-cup of Chia seeds to it.

    Just recently I made a smoothie with (all approximates) 10 ounces water, 2 bananas, 1/4 cup of chia, a small scoop of honey, a scoop of peanut butter, just under one cup plain Greek yogurt, a half cup of steel cut oats, a very small scoop of coconut oil, and a cup of ice.

    The smoothie above was a big one, so adjust according to your appetite. But I have to say it was delicious, filling, packed with “super foods,” and fueled a strong workout. The smoothie was great for a training day, but I also had one yesterday morning and it kept me full and satisfied during a very busy work/school morning. You can ask my wife, but I am just about permanently-hungry, so staying full until early afternoon is saying something.

    Again though, adding chia to any smoothie will work well and will not change the taste in a noticeable way.

  •   A simple breakfast (for training days, race days, and otherwise):

    Mix a tablespoon of chia seeds with your favorite all-natural jam or jelly. Spread it on a couple pieces of wheat toast or an English muffin and enjoy. Easy.

  • Attempts at a “chia gel”:

    In Born to Run the Tarahumara drink their chia in a mixture of water and sweet lime juice. Some have called this “chia fresco,” in Born to Run, McDougall referred to it as a “home brewed red bull.”

    My variation of this drink contains: 1/4 cup of chia, the juice of one grapefruit, about 12 ounces water, and a little agave nectar.

    I mix it a rigorous stir to avoid clumping and put it in the fridge overnight.

    The next morning, I take it out, give it another good stir and enjoy. The longest I have stored this mixture is about 2 days, but I see online that people have successfully stored it in their fridge for around 5-days.

    When training picks up I will likely quadruple the proportions and keep a large carafe in the fridge – simply pouring my daily “chia fresca” each morning, as opposed to making it the night before.

    The benefit of soaking the chia is at least two-fold: First, chia seeds become almost gelatinous when soaked in water. Consistency wise, they remind me a bit of really small boba-tea balls. Soaking the chia seed keeps it from getting stuck in your teeth and in my opinion, makes them easier to ingest. Second, chia seeds can absorb 12x their weight in water which, I imagine, will help prevent dehydration over longer periods of exertion.

    I am sure that orange juice would also work well, and if the Tarahumara do it, I am sure you could use sweet line juice.

Ideally, I would like to create a gel that I can use on my training and race days. If I had to guess, though, I think I will most likely start to mix the chia with water and add it to my Gatorade. This will water-down the Gatorade (which I need to do anyway), and also provide me with the nutritional benefits of the chia.

Again, I need more time to figure out how well chia will work as I train and whether it will in fact become a “match made in race day heaven.”

As race season gets started this spring, be sure to check back for some updates on my use of chia, and as always, I love your insight so please let me know if you’ve tried it, raced with it, recipes you like, etc.

A triathlon coach was quoted as saying: “I do believe that as triathletes, Chia seeds have a place in our diet as a super food that is a great source of healthy fats, low glycemic, zero sugar carbohydrates and tons of anti-oxidants that can increase health, improve performance and enhance recovery.“

I’ll be a guinea pig and let you know if I think the benefits of the seed translate to improved health, strength & performance in life generally and in triathlon specifically.

Happy training, thanks for reading!


BTW, you can follow us at @FitnessElectron on Twitter!

Jan 312012

Note: Today’s blog looks at the nutritional benefits of chia. Tomorrow’s blog will provide some recipes, so be sure to check back then.

As a law-school student in my last semester I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I have read only one non-legal casebook book in the last two years. That book was the amazing & educational Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall.

McDougall writes this book perfectly – merging a non-fiction story, scientific data, and educational insights seamlessly. The book is a page-turner.

Born to Run is, in many ways, centered on the minimalist running movement. The foundation for the book is the Tarahumara Tribe of Mexico’s brutal Copper Canyon. This tribe is regarded by many to be some the greatest ultra-runners in the world. The Tarahumara run hundreds of miles & run for days at a time. They run for sport, for camaraderie, and for survival. These runs are fueled, in large part, by the chia seed. Born to Run tells many tales of how the chia seed fuelled epic runs.

“If you had to pick just one desert island food, you couldn’t do much better than chia,” McDougall writes. “At least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease; after a few months on the chia diet, you could probably swim home.”

As a decent “age-grouper,” the search for gear, fuel, and a training regimen that works best for my body & my schedule is never-ending. So of course, when I read Born to Run I started to wonder if the chia seed could supplant my goos, gels, and bloks?

Why Chia?

Chia is regarded as a “super food.” I couldn’t find one standard definition of a “super food,” but I think an adequate definition would be a food that provides health benefits beyond simple nutrition. Further, a “super food” seems to provide numerous nutritional & health benefits that you would otherwise have to ingest multiple types of food for. For example, salmon can be considered a super food because it contains large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and is low in saturated fat and calories.

Here is why Chia is a super food:

The approximate nutritional values in 1-Cup of chia seeds:

  •  Omega 3’s equal to that found in 5 pounds of salmon
  • Magnesium equal to that found in over 7 pounds of broccoli
  • Protein equal to that found in 1.5 pounds of tofu
  • Fiber equal to that found in 2 pounds of oatmeal
  • The antioxidants found in 1-pound of blueberries
  •  The Calcium found in 2 pounds of 1% milk

The more I read Born to Run, and the more I researched chia and its benefits, the more excited I got to try it. As you can see, the nutritional values of the seed are off the charts. Clearly, there could be some benefit to incorporating it into my diet – the question is how.

 See Part 2 of this blog tomorrow for some ways I have enjoyed Chia.


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