No positive influence of ingesting chia seed oil on human running performance

Nutrients. 2015 May 15;7(5):3666-76. doi: 10.3390/nu7053666.


Runners (n = 24) reported to the laboratory in an overnight fasted state at 8:00 am on two occasions separated by at least two weeks. After providing a blood sample at 8:00 am, subjects ingested 0.5 liters flavored water alone or 0.5 liters water with 7 kcal kg-1 chia seed oil (random order), provided another blood sample at 8:30 am, and then started running to exhaustion (~70% VO2max). Additional blood samples were collected immediately post- and 1-h post-exercise. Despite elevations in plasma alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) during the chia seed oil (337%) versus water trial (35%) (70.8 ± 8.6, 20.3 ± 1.8 μg mL(-1), respectively, p < 0.001), run time to exhaustion did not differ between trials (1.86 ± 0.10, 1.91 ± 0.13 h, p = 0.577, respectively). No trial differences were found for respiratory exchange ratio (RER) (0.92 ± 0.01), oxygen consumption, ventilation, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), and plasma glucose and blood lactate. Significant post-run increases were measured for total leukocyte counts, plasma cortisol, and plasma cytokines (Interleukin-6 (IL-6), Interleukin-8 (IL-8), Interleukin-10 (IL-10), and Tumor necrosis factors-α (TNF-α)), with no trial differences. Chia seed oil supplementation compared to water alone in overnight fasted runners before and during prolonged, intensive running caused an elevation in plasma ALA, but did not enhance run time to exhaustion, alter RER, or counter elevations in cortisol and inflammatory outcome measures.

Keywords: alpha-linolenic fatty acid; cytokines; exercise; inflammation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Eating
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Endurance / drug effects*
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Running / physiology*
  • Salvia / chemistry*
  • Seeds / chemistry*
  • Young Adult
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / blood
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / pharmacology*


  • Cytokines
  • Plant Oils
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Hydrocortisone