Recreating “10,000 year old Red Bull” for insane energy

Chia Seed Energy | Redd Bar Superfood Energy Bar

Three or four times a week I drive myself after work to a nearby path that runs around Casco Bay in Portland, ME. I spend the ten minute drive arguing with myself about whether or not I have the energy to run. Like many other reluctant runners, my lazy body needs to be psyched up for even this short, easy and scenic trip.

My success and energy during any run is almost always determined by what I ate between lunch and 5pm, so I started searching for ways to get the best energy in the afternoons.

Born to Run

After reading ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall, I learned ancient runners in Mexico had a brew that could guarantee sustained energy and endurance. Honestly, I was interested in any hack that could help me improve my running and give me the energy to make distance running a more consistent habit.

I was given McDougall’s book by a friend who had started running in Vibram FiveFingers shoes that look completely ridiculous, but he swears by. The book was responsible for launching the popular barefoot and minimalist running trend based on the author’s tales of Mexico’s Tarahumara people.


Ancient Long Distance Runners

The Tarahumara of northern Mexico have a long tradition of covering hundreds of miles on foot over the course of several days in order to communicate, trade and hunt. As McDougall, and other runners started to research what fueled these world-class runners, they realized their typical diet was extremely simple and there was one drink that often fueled them before a long run.

McDougall recounts a story by Carl Lumholtz, a Norwegian explorer, who had traveled to the area where the Tarahumara lived in the 1800s and remembers the first time he tried iskiate, the Tarahumara’s energy brew,:

“I arrived late one afternoon at a cave where a woman was just making this drink,” Lumholtz wrote. “I was very tired and at a loss how to climb the mountain-side to my camp, some 2,000 feet above. But after having satisfied my hunger and thirst with some iskiate,” he went on, “I at once felt new strength, and, to my own astonishment, climbed the great height without much effort. After this I always found iskiate a friend in need, so strengthening and refreshing that I may almost claim it as a discovery.”


Drinking Iskiate FOR ENERGY

The energy brew iskiate (or Chia Fresca) has been dubbed “10,000-year-old Red Bull”. It is a simple drink made with chia seeds and refreshing lemon water and a bit of agave.

I knew about the power of the Chia seed, since it is one of the primary superfood ingredients and sources of protein, and clean energy in all of our Redd bars, but hearing the story of the Tarahumara was just the motivation I needed to kickstart my passion for running.  

I immediately went to our local food co-op to buy a large bag of Chia seed, a bundle of limes and a bottle of local sparkling water. 

Since then, I have been chugging a cup of Chia Fresca before most of my runs along with snacking on a Chocolate Redd bar. I have been amazed at how much energy I have. Perhaps it’s the placebo affect, and more likely it’s the proven effect of eating superfood rich foods instead of a bag of chips or a chocolate chip cookie in the afternoon. {link to recipe -internal link}

Either way I am running more, and running farther. Although, most days I still have to convince myself to get out of the car, now I don’t have an excuse not to start.