fbpx ;

Swap the Sports Gel for Chia Power

With the amount of time I spend on my bike and on long runs, I tend to go through a good number of sports gels. And, believe you me, it’s not because I love them so much, but I appreciate nutrition that’s a cinch to carry and easy to ingest.
Now, chia seeds certainly pack a lot of nutrition, and they’re wonderfully versatile — I put them on salads, in smoothies, in sandwiches, you name it — but I never thought about, like, taking a baggie with me on a three-hour bike ride. I mean, that’s weird, right?
Not really, as it turns out. Deborah Orlick Levy, MS, RD and Carrington Farms health and nutrition consultant, reached out with a great idea — use chia gel as a sport gel! The seeds are a super-rich plant source of omega 3s (they have even more than salmon!), and considering what a great source of complete protein they are, it makes sense that chia gel would be a fantastic source of energy for a big workout.
Maybe you’re totally familiar with how to make chia gel (after all, it’s not new to us here at Eats!) thinking, “Sure, that sounds great, but what about flavor?” Those sports gels on the market might not exactly be a delicacy, but they definitely aren’t plain, you know?
No worries! Levy had recommendations for not just how to up the flavor, but also how to pack an extra nutritional punch. Plus, she provided suggestions for how and when to use it.
chia gel recipe

DIY Chia Gel: How to Make It and How to Use It

FBG: How does the nutrition in this homemade gel compare to some of the popular ready-made gels on the market? I always prefer to make my own chia gel than to buy one. Someone would have to read the ingredient list on a store-bought gel whereas a homemade gel is likely just chia seeds, water and other wholesome ingredients you have chosen to put in it. There are no preservatives in a homemade version that goes right into your refrigerator. This “clean chia gel” is packed with all the nutrition benefits you get from chia in a convenient shot..
FBG: Are there any ingredients one might want to consider adding for nutritional purposes? To enhance the nutritional composition of a chia gel, you can substitute plain water with coconut water, which is high in potassium and a good source of B-complex vitamins. Or, if you use almond milk instead of water, you are power packing your chia gel with calcium. Another idea is to add a packet of Emergen-C to the water, along with the seeds. This gives high amounts of vitamin C, along with electrolytes, B vitamins and antioxidants.
FBG: How about ingredients one could add for flavor? If you would like to flavor your chia gel, I would recommend adding a drop of organic coconut nectar (it’s a very pure sweetener and a drop is all you need). You can also add a splash of your favorite juice (such as pomegranate, lemon, lime or cranberry), or stir in a small amount of your favorite all-natural jam.
FBG note: I used a wee bit of tart cherry juice in mine to make it very subtly sweet. It does not taste anything like the usual sports gels I use, but it’s not at all unpleasant — I like that it doesn’t taste so sweet or sugary!

FBG: What are your recommendations for servings and usage? How much should one take before/during/after a workout? I recommend my clients use chia (either seeds or shot) in the morning and/or before a workout. Typically 1 tablespoon would be enough (either in gel or seed form) to sustain an hourlong workout, along with a healthy, balanced meal. If someone is an endurance athlete, they may want to consume two tablespoons of chia a day. This can help sustain them in a marathon or long, bike ride or race. I do always caution clients to work in the increased fiber gradually and that athletes should never try something for the first time on race day. Do what has worked for you on training days.
FBG: How long does this gel last once made? The general rule of thumb is to use within a week once it’s made. I do try to use it within four to five days.
FBG: Is there anything else someone should know about using chia gel for endurance sports? Chia is an athlete’s superfood. It is so good for athletes because it absorbs more than 10 times its weight in water. It will expand to help keep the stomach full for those long workouts. It is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains fiber and antioxidants which athletes need. This combination can help athletes get the stamina and endurance they want.
Would you — or have you — ever used chia gel to fuel a workout? Now I just need a better way to pack it and take it out on the bike with me … —Kristen

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!