Can Chia Seeds Help You Lose Weight? This Is What Dieticians Have to Say

by | Feb 27, 2024 | Nutrition

There’s no shortage of weight loss advice on TikTok. And, one trend that keeps coming up revolves around chia seeds and how adding them to your diet can help you weigh less.

As TikTokker MotivationalDoc says, chia seeds will “do amazing things for your health,” like improve digestion, increase your protein intake, stabilise your blood sugar, and help you lose weight. But do chia seeds live up to these promises?

It’s possible, but no food is a “magic bullet,” says Bianca Tamburello, R.D.N., of FRESH Communications. “It’s unlikely that adding chia seeds to your diet alone will cause immediate weight loss.”

Still, chia seeds are packed with protein and fibre, two nutrients that help keep you full longer, which aids weight loss, she adds. The added fibre can help relieve constipation and symptoms like gas and bloating—and, that might result in weight loss.

READ MORE: How to Make Quick and Easy Protein Pancakes

Chia seeds are versatile, so they’re easy for most people to incorporate into their diets, says Gina Granich, M.S., R.D., instructor in the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida. The tiny seeds are nearly tasteless and “take on the flavour of whatever they’re added to.”

On TikTok, a popular chia seed recipe is the internal shower drink—#internalshower videos have been viewed more than 114 million times. The drink is made by adding 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, freshly squeezed lemon, and an optional 1/8 teaspoon of salt to at least 1 cup of water and left to absorb for about 15 minutes.

Even though drinking an internal shower or eating chia seeds another way likely won’t have immediate slimming or improved digestion effects, they’re still good for you and recommended as part of a healthy diet.

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Chia seeds come from the Salvia hispanica L. plant and have been a food crop since 3,500 B.C. in Mexico and Guatemala. Today, they’re a popular superfood.

The seeds are nutrient-dense and high in ALA omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and protein, Granich says.

chia seeds
Image: Getty

A 2.5-tablespoon serving of chia seeds contains 10 grams of fibre and 5 grams of protein.

Chia seeds are also packed with antioxidants, which help fight free radicals that cause damage to the body and can lead to several diseases. Tamburello says the antioxidants found in chia seeds have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects and promote healthy blood pressure.

Other nutrients found in chia seeds include calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorous, and vitamins B1 and B3.

Chia Seeds and Weight Loss

There isn’t much research on the weight loss potential of chia seeds. A small 2017 study found that eating yoghurt mixed with chia seeds for breakfast increased the subjects’ feelings of fullness and reduced their short-term food intake compared to those who ate yoghurt without chia seeds.

The hefty protein and fibre content of chia seeds helps you feel full for longer, which can keep you from snacking and overeating. This may promote weight loss, Granich says.

But, adding chia seeds to your diet alone might not have much of an effect—especially if your diet is typically low in fibre, high in saturated fat, and missing many key nutrients, she adds.

READ MORE: Can Drinking Lemon Water Help with Weight Loss?

Instead, Granich recommends adding chia seeds to a blanched diet with other high-fibre, high-protein foods without saturated fat for the biggest weight loss potential.

“Eating chia seeds daily in moderate amounts is a TikTok trend that I can support as a registered dietician,” Tamburello says. “Chia seeds are packed with beneficial nutrients and are easy to add to your diet to help round out meals and snacks.”

How to Eat Chia Seeds

chia seeds
Image: Getty

The internal shower drink may be popular on TikTok. But, Tamburello says there are better-tasting ways to enjoy chia seeds.

“Add chia seeds to smoothies, oats, yogurt, and homemade salad dressing for a boost of omega-3 fats, fiber, and protein,” she says.

Sprinkle chia seeds onto salads or cereal, or bake them into muffins, breads, granola bars, and other items, Granich says.

Can You Eat Too Many Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds are generally safe to eat every day. But, Tamburello suggests only eating about a tablespoon or two at a time. “There is such a thing as too much of a good thing,” she says.

Balance and variety are vital for any healthy diet. “A little bit of chia seeds goes a long way,” Granich says.

Start small, see how you feel, and go from there. If you experience any negative side effects, stop eating them. If you have GI issues, especially diverticulosis or diverticulitis, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian before eating chia seeds, she adds.

“Most Americans can benefit from increasing their fibre intake through eating more foods like chia seeds but be sure to do this slowly,” Tamburello says. “Increasing your fibre intake too quickly can cause stomach pains, bloating, and gas.”

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