A chia seed based drink inspired by the book Born to Run.



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While I was at the beach a few weeks ago I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.  If you haven’t read it and are at all interested in running or just cool stories, I highly recommend it.

The book tells a bunch of different stories – it follows a hidden Mexican tribe of runners, a few people who run super-marathons (100 miles without stopping), and one crazy dude name Caballo Blanco (white horse) who used to be the latter, but is now closer to the former.

I really related to the author in the book because, like him, I enjoy running but I’m just not great at it.  I usually run 3-5 miles and then just kind of decide that beer is way more fun than running the next 3-5 miles.  The idea of running a marathon, or four in row, is not something I can even picture in my mind.

As you can imagine, if you’re running 60-100 miles at a time, it’s pretty darn important what you fuel your body with.  When the author was hanging with the cool Mexican tribe, Tarahumara, they introduced him to a drink called Iskiate which he claimed gave him an immediate boost of energy.  Like, he drank some and then ran 10-15 miles.  No sweat.

It should go without saying that I had to try this stuff out.



A chia seed based drink inspired by the book Born to Run.
3.77 from 81 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 2 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 4 Servings


  • 4 cups water
  • 2 limes juice only
  • ¼ cup raw chia seeds
  • ¼ cup agave nectar honey, or sugar


  • Mix water, and lime juice in a small pot until steaming, but not boiling.
  • Stir in chia seeds and stir well so they don’t stick together.  Add sweetener and continue to stir.
  • Cook for another minute or two, stirring continuously.
  • Chill completely and drink a cup or two of it a few minutes before doing something active.


Calories: 104kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 2gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.3gTrans Fat: 0.01gSodium: 5mgPotassium: 78mgFiber: 5gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 22IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 111mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Drinks

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The Chia

There are really only 3 ingredients in this drink.  It’s dumb simple to make, but the key ingredient is a good dose of chia seeds.

I think Chris McDougall does a great job of summing up the nutritional power of these little guys:

In terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone. As tiny as those seeds are, they’re superpacked with omega-3S, omega-6S, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants.

And guess what… they don’t taste that bad to boot!

Just three things!

Here’s a close up shot of those little guys.  Unlike flax seeds, your body can digest these whole so there’s no need to grind them up or anything.

chia seeds
Up close.

Making the Drink

While you could make this drink one cup at a time, I decided to make a larger batch of it and then just store it in the fridge.  It’s good for a few days without a problem.

To do this, I added the lime juice and water to a small sauce pan and let it heat up.  Once it was steaming (no need to boil it) add in all the chia seeds.  Stir them up really well.  They might stick together some, but that’s okay.

A quick simmer…

Add the agave nectar and continue to stir it.  If you don’t have agave, you can definitely use honey or sugar.  Agave is the real deal though.

adding agave
Agave or sugar… whatever works.

Just stir this all together really well for a minute or two and then stick it all in the fridge to cool down.

Once the drink is cool, you’ll notice that most of the seeds have settled and all the seeds are partially dissolved.  I don’t know how else to describe it, but as the seeds dissolve, they give the drink a very light slimy texture.  I realize that doesn’t sound appetizing, but it’s not heavy at all.  That said, I’ve never drank anything like it in my life.

Nice and cool.

Once it’s chilled there’s no need to serve it with ice or anything.  You can just drink it straight.  I added some ice to mine though just to keep it really nice and cold.

It’s good to give the drink a stir every once in awhile or all the seeds will settle.  You want those seeds!

Tastier than it looks!

The Results

I did a little unscientific test yesterday to test this drink out.  Normally after I cook at the homeless shelter on a Tuesday, I’m pretty spent the rest of the day.  I usually try to get in a short run or something, but it’s never a fun experience.  I usually just want to go to bed!

Today though, I drank a big glass of Iskiate about 20 minutes before going for a 3 mile jog.  It definitely wasn’t like I turned into Superman or anything, but I did feel a lot better!  Considering I didn’t eat anything all morning before the run, I had a good amount of energy and when I normally hit a wall (mile 2ish), I just breezed right through it!  I definitely felt like I could’ve ran for a few more miles.

Now, of course, this could’ve been 100% psychosomatic.  I could’ve felt better running because I thought I was supposed to be feeling better while running.

But who cares?  Psychosomatic or not, the run went well!  And the drink is actually quite refreshing because of the lime and sugar.

It’s not the most visually appealing drink ever created, but hey, if people run 60 miles and attribute even a fraction of their energy to a simple-to-make drink with three ingredients, you better believe I’m on board with it!

32 Responses to “Iskiate” Leave a comment

  1. This is awesome: I am a little more than halfway through this book and honestly hate every time I have to put it down. I'm so surprised at how much I'm enjoying it — and how curious I was when I read about Iskiate!

    I might have to pick up some chia seeds today, since I'm running my first half marathon this weekend… yikes.
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  2. I just started eating Chia seeds but I have to agree- they don't taste bad at all and I like the crunch they add to oatmeal, salads, smoothies, etc. Plus for all the benefit they provide, they're fairly inexpensive!

  3. Iskiate looks a lot like Thai basil seed drink. If I ever come across chia seeds (aside from the ones left over from my Chia pet) I'll have to give this on a try.

  4. Are chia seeds similar to something called Salba? I recently heard that Salba has similar properties, but can also be ground up and substituted for some of the flour in recipes.

  5. I've been experimenting with chia seeds for about a year now. I add them to pre-run drinks and post run smoothies or pancakes, and have even tried to make a homemade energy gel. I think they are great!

    I ordered mine online. For pretty cheap I got 5 pounds, which I still have plenty of.
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  6. Was it all gel-like? I eat a lot of chia. In fact I was eating them in scrambled eggs as I read this but the consistency of this drink scares me. Like unset jell-o?

  7. We drink "agua fresca" all the time – lemonade with chia. My son LOVES it. It doesn't really feel so slimy when you drink it but the seeds left over are slimy when you spoon them up! I love the thickening power of the chia in a smoothie too!!

  8. It’s not your imagination. I started tossing a tablespoon of chia seeds in 1/4 cup of cranberry juice for the fiber boost. I soak them overnight and add more juice in the morning to get it to the consistency of tapioca which I eat like a little pudding cup. The seeds absorb the liquid and actually concentrates the flavor of cranberry so each seed contains a burst of flavor. It’s such a treat. I hope to expand to other flavors. The thing is, I can’t have the snack late in the day — the energy boost the seeds provide actually keeps me up at night. I’ve tested this out at least three times and it always ends up the same way–too much energy late into the night. So, no chia seeds for me after 5pm or I’ll have a problem getting to sleep. It’s a great superfood.

  9. This is awesome! My husband who NEVER reads recipes sent this to me…I think as a hint that he wants to try it! He's a huge Born to Run fan and we even met Caballo Blanco.

  10. Thanks so much for the recipe. Both my sisters run and they started making this recipe. They say it works!

  11. Very cool! I’ve been sucking down lemon and lime enhanced water nonstop lately. I’m so glad I have a bigger reason to do it. Thank goodness for Born to Run!… What made you want to heat the mixture? Do you think maybe alternate between raw and heated to gain the most bioavailability of nutrients? Let me know! Have a happy, healthy day! :)

    1. Hey Marshall, to be honest, I’m not really sure there’s a benefit or disadvantage to heating it. I just thought it helped break down the chia a bit. I’m not really sure about the nutritional benefits of doing so though!

  12. Hey Nick, I found your recipe after coming across the drink in Born to Run this weekend. I have used chia seeds in yogurt, and was thrilled to find out I could use them to make a tasty drink, since I’m really not a big yogurt eater. I also like my water warm and lemony, so this recipe was perfect for my taste buds! I hope the chia seeds give me the boost I need these days – I’m sooo sllleeeppyyy lately. Thanks for posting!

  13. Hi Nick,
    Is your recipe the way the Tarahumara people make this drink? Because I thought it was very interesting that this recipe called for simmer warm water to steep the chia seeds in, as opposed to just soaking it in room temperature water. I want to see if there’s some tribal wisdom here that I can take from this way of preparing chia seeds.

    1. Hey Jennifer, I’m not 100% sure honestly. The version I used was from the book Born to Run which I think was at least inspired by their version….

  14. I have to agree it is a fabulous book to read, the type of book you cannot put down.
    I have never been a great runner myself, I mostly enjoyed short sprints rather than endurance runs.
    I will get some chia seeds today though, and looking forward to trying the drink.
    I will go for the cold water first though.
    Thanks for the article.

  15. I love chia seed. Put then in all my morning fruit smothies. I also put then in my oatmeal and even baked them is brownies. I will definitely try this too.

  16. I just came across this article. It all sounds very interesting and worth a try.
    I may have missed it, but,
    What are the nutritional values of this drink ?
    What carbohydrate and electrolyte, and mineral numbers ?

  17. I want to try it since I feel no energy to initiate even walking. I am a diabetic and what I can take instead of agave or sugar or honey. I am having a small doubt whether this 1/4 cup simple sugar is giving energy or chia seeds. Please clarify.

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