BodyBannerWhile doing research on Chia seeds last year, I came across a study that showed how increasing the daily intake to 8 TBSP for 12 weeks helped people with Type-2 diabetes lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve blood sugar regulation.

I decided to experiment on myself. Would consuming the same amount also have a noticeable effect on a perfectly healthy 29-year-old?

I splurged and bought this massive 10 lb bag of Chia seeds. It was bigger than a baby, and it was awesome.

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It’s a boy! 10 lbs 0 oz.

It took 40 straight days of eating 8 TBSP to kill that bag. Man, that was a lot of seeds.

The Results

In the original University of Toronto study, participants continued to eat their usual unhealthy diet and simply added chia seeds to it. This allowed researchers to better isolate the health effects of the chia seed variable.

I on the other hand, added chia seeds to an already healthy diet and low-stress lifestyle. My results are subjective, but I can say that I did notice a tangible difference in the following areas:

Overall Energy

It’s not surprising that the word “Chia” comes from the Mayan language meaning strength, as Chia seeds have linked to increased stamina and energy levels. From my experience, I also found this to true.

While eating 8 TBSP didn’t give me consistent Energizer Bunny-like endurance, I did notice a significant reduction in the rest needed between activities. For example, it became easier for me to workout immediately after returning home from running errands all day. Once I made the decision to run or work out, my body often felt instantly on board, almost completely drowning out that complaining, lazy voice of resistance in my head.

I’ve found that the best way to maximize energy throughout the day is to eat the majority of the 8 TBSP in the morning with breakfast. Since it takes up to four hours for Chia seeds to digest, consuming it in morning will help strategically release the energy needed to combat that dreaded afternoon food coma.

I began to notice this beneficial change in energy at about the 3 week mark.

I loved my Bag O' Chia just like Kumar and his bag...

I loved my Bag O’ Chia just like Kumar and his bag…

Muscle Mass

At 29, I have better muscle definition than when I was 20. Back then I worked out three times as often, ate an average of 1.5 chicken breasts a day, drank a gallon of milk a week, and had a protein shake after each workout.

Since then I have completely cut out protein powders, milk, and toned down my meat and cheese consumption, while fine-tuning my diet to be vegetable dominant.

I now get my protein from only natural sources (chia seeds, kale, nuts, fish, eggs, tofu, quinoa, beans etc.) and it keeps my muscles firm and lean. I may not as huge as I used to be, but my diet upgrade is clearly responsible for the stronger, leaner, more muscular body that I have now.

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There are 24 grams of protein in 8 TBSP of Chia seeds. That’s the same as eating a chicken breast.

For me, increasing my protein consumption didn’t have a noticeable effect (I wasn’t trying to bulk up), but I’m sure it helped with muscle growth and maintenance.

Why I Think I Have More Muscle Mass at 29.

I have never counted my protein (or calories, or fat) intake because I believe that obsessing about numbers does way more harm than good, but clearly, my change in diet has resulted in a reduction in protein consumption. This begs the question, why am I in better shape now, being a decade older, working out embarrassingly less than I used to, and eating fewer grams of protein?

My theory for this illogical result is that

  1. My vegetable-dominant diet helped trim my body down to a lower body fat percentage, and keep me slim.
  2. Having a leaner body allowed for muscle to be more visible and easier to sculpt (tacking on muscle rather than converting excess fat into muscle).
  3. I’m also convinced there is a huge mental component, aside from stress management, to physical health and aging. I’ll write more about my thoughts on this in a future post.

Running Endurance

Not the only runner fueled by seeds.

Not the only runner fueled by seeds.

Chia seeds are a hot item in the running community because it helps increase endurance levels as well as provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Chia seeds may also help keep the body better hydrated as they are hydrophilic and can absorb up to 12 times its weight in water.

I recently started getting into running, but for the longest time I hated it. Like a lot of people, I had an aversion to running. It was boring and I associated it with punishment, like running suicides for missing basketball practice in high school.

I still had an aversion to running while I was doing my Chia seed experiment, and as a result, I did not run enough to be able to observe consistently higher endurance levels.

However, during the few times that I did run, I surprised myself.

Usually when I run around Lake Merritt in Oakland (3 miles), I get gassed by the first mile. That’s when that negative inner voice kicks in and I contemplate quitting. Before Chia seeds, only a perfectly-timed pump up song or a pair of sexy runners just ahead of me could snap my motivation back online.

But after weeks of having Chia seeds flowing through my veins, I found myself turning on the afterburners, kicking it into high gear, and easily finishing the last 2 miles like this persistent policeman:

 

Chia seeds. Try it out and let me know what it does for you.

Find my original post on Chia Seeds HERE,

and my other post– EAT THIS EVERYDAY: 4 TBSP CHIA SEEDS.

 

Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3

 

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