Achiva “Chia Chai Energy Drink Mix” (Review)

Last week, I wrote up a review for the Achiva “Energy Chews,” a product I liked quite a bit.  Before I headed on for my 12 mile run today, I decided to try the other product that Achiva had sent me, a “Chia Chai Coconut Water Energy Drink Mix.”

I’d been sent two sample pouches (each of which is actually half a serving) with directions to mix the contents of both into 16 ounces of water and drink before exercise.  Like the energy drops, the ingredient list was short, simple, and easy to pronounce: chia seeds, demerara sugar, cocount water powder, chia tea blend, sea salt.

My first thought on pouring the powder into water was that it certainly lacked a visual appeal.  The resulting concoction looked liked I’d dumped a mixture of finely ground pepper and whole-wheat flour into a glass of water.  Then again, being all-natural usually means not being as beautiful as your mass-produced, highly-refined and processed counterpart: home-made bread lacks the uniformity of pre-sliced grocery-store loaves; brilliantly colored citrus fruits usually mean dyes and paraffin.  The stuff wasn’t pretty, so what?

There was also some oddly textured clumping that refused to mix in no matter how much I stirred with my spoon, but anyone who has made a drink using chia seeds knows that “oddly textured” and “chia drink” are pretty synonymous.  With the Achiva drink, it was just a little at the top, with most of the mix blending in quite nicely.  Again, I didn’t see this as a draw back, because it is an all natural product.  You want something that dissolves perfectly in water with no clumping?  That’s what Gatorade and bizarre anti-caking agents are for (their label says as much). The label also tells you to wait 15-20 minutes to let the chia seeds do their gelling thing, but I needed to get out the door with Nat, so I drank it shortly after mixing — it might have been smother and less clumpy had I waited.  Still, the few clumps didn’t bother me, and I really enjoyed the taste of the drink.  Like the energy drops, it had a very mild, natural flavor: it felt and tasted like you were drinking something organic and healthy (in a good way!)  The light, chai spices gave it just enough of a flavor to make it interesting, yet light enough to be easily palatable.

The point, however, of an energy drink is not whether or not its pretty or tastes good, but whether it affects your workout.  I haven’t run any blind tests or studies, and this was my only time using the product, but I felt great.  Maybe it was good night’s sleep (ha! I’ve got a toddler and a 9 week old.  I don’t know the meaning of “good night’s sleep”), the delicious bowl of oatmeal I had this morning, or the Achiva, but I honestly felt just a touch more vibrant and full of energy than I have on my last few runs, despite the fact I was heading out in the pouring rain pushing a jogging stroller.  I felt so energetic, in fact, that despite planning on doing 12 miles, I didn’t even think to reach for my Hammer gel until I’d been running for 75 minutes, almost 30 minutes later than I normally would.

Again, I can’t say for certain that the Achiva Energy Drink was the variable, but I felt it made a difference.  The company has generously offered to send me some more of their product, as I’d like to do some long runs fueled just by their drink mix and energy drops so I can better judge its actual affect.  In the mean time, however, I’m pretty excited by their stuff: even if it is only “as good” as what I normally use, it’s all natural and minimally processed, two things I really value in my food.  If you didn’t the last time I wrote them up, go check them out on Facebook.

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About Chris Van Dyke

I am a 33 year-old high school English teacher and long-distance runner. I live in Brooklyn with my partner, our 3 year-old son and 1 year-old daughter and a growing collection of muppets and trains. Besides running and teaching I like to draw, read, write, cook, and play the harmonica. While I didn't get to run my first ultra-marathon on my birthday, I've got a few more I've set my sights on. You can follow my (seldom updated) twitter feed @aboutrunning. I also blog as part of the Run Smiley Collective.
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