Putting together your weight loss diet can be a challenge with all the options. What about chia seeds, are they good for weight loss or fattening?
Chia seeds are a type of edible seed you can eat as a part of a wide variety of recipes.
While chia seeds are very high in healthy nutrients like fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals they are also relatively high in calories.
Chia seeds are definitely a better food for weight loss than many processed snacks but on the other hand, there are also a lot of foods that are way more useful when trying to lose weight.
If you do decide to add chia seeds to your diet do not eat dry chia seeds on their own. They absorb a lot of fluid from their surroundings. You will likely also need to exercise some portion control if you are trying to lose weight.
Micronutrients in chia seeds
The first thing to look at is the amount of micronutrients in chia seeds.
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.
100 grams of dry chia seeds provides you with approximately (1):
- Manganese: 136% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Phosphorus: 86% of the DV
- Magnesium: 84% of the DV
- Selenium: 79% of the DV
- Calcium: 63% of the DV
- Copper: 46% of the DV
- Niacin: 44% of the DV
- Iron: 43% of the DV
- Thiamin: 41% of the DV
- Zinc: 31% of the DV
- Folate: 12% of the DV
- Potassium: 12% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 10% of the DV
And a few others in smaller amounts. These are extremely good amounts of vitamins and minerals per 100 grams. Chia seeds can get you well on your way to hitting many daily vitamin and mineral goals.
If you combine chia seeds with a healthy diet and you should be able to hit most of your daily vitamin and mineral goals.
Chia seeds also contain anti-oxidants. These are substances that help your body deal with oxidative stress, damage that occurs from day to day. It is not entirely clear if and to what extent antioxidants help weight loss.
Fiber in chia seeds for weight loss
Another very important factor for weight loss is the amount of fiber in your food.
Dry chia seeds contain around 34.4 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
This is an extremely big amount of fiber per 100 grams compared to many other foods.
Fiber has multiple benefits for weight loss. First of all, it feeds your microbiome, the microbes that live in your intestines. The health of your microbiome influences your body’s health and weight. Feeding it well is usually not a bad idea.
Fiber also helps you feel less hungry without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Hunger and cravings can be a big pitfall for people trying to lose weight, so avoiding this is a big plus.
With the amount of fiber in chia seeds you can reduce the time you spend craving for food a lot.
Protein in chia seeds for weight loss
Another thing in food that can help you on your weight loss journey is the amount of protein in it.
Dry chia seeds contain about 16.5 grams of protein per 100 grams. To compare, there are about 25.4 grams per 100 grams in salmon (2). Chia seeds are a good source of plant-based protein but also a good source of protein in general.
Protein is considered to be the most filling of the 3 macronutrients. Eating enough protein will also help you prevent muscle loss. Muscle helps you burn extra calories throughout the day which is very good for weight loss. Protein calories also take your body more calories to process than calories from carbs and fats.
The amount of protein in chia seeds is big for a plant-based source of protein. You will most likely also need protein from other foods but chia seeds can get you well on your way towards your daily protein goals.
Do keep in mind that overdoing it with protein isn’t good either.
Are chia seeds good for losing weight?
To know whether or not you can eat chia seeds while trying to lose weight you still need a final piece of the puzzle. The number of calories in chia seeds.
Dry chia seeds contain around 486 calories per 100 grams. 168.5 of these calories come from carbohydrates (42.12 g per 100 grams of which 34.4 g fiber). That means about 138 calories in an ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds.
Due to the low amount of net carbs you should be able to fit in some chia seeds in low carb diets like the keto diet.
On the one hand, you have these big amounts of micronutrients, fiber, and plant-based protein but on the other hand, you have this large number of calories.
Chia seeds may help you lose weight depending on your current diet. They help you consume a lot more fiber and protein which are helpful for reducing hunger. This in turn may help you avoid higher-calorie foods.
That being said due to the high calorie count of chia seeds there are also other foods that can be more useful for losing weight.
The few small studies about the relation between chia seeds and weight loss have mixed findings (3, 4, 5). One of the reasons for this is that one individual food is unlikely to make or break your weight loss journey.
Keep in mind that chia seeds may interfere with blood pressure and blood-thinning medications. If you take these it may be smart to talk to your primary care provider before adding chia seeds to your diet.
How to eat chia seeds for weight loss
You can implement chia seeds in different ways into your diet. Some are better than others for weight loss. You definitely need to combine dry chia seeds with something before eating them since they absorb a lot of fluid from their surroundings.
Here are some examples of weight loss friendly ways to eat chia seeds:
- Chia pudding
- Soaked in water
- As an ingredient in smoothies
- As a topping on dishes like soup, oatmeal, yogurt, salads,…
How weight loss friendly each option is depends a lot on the specific dish. There are for example types of smoothies that are not helpful for losing weight.
Can chia seeds reduce belly fat?
Targetting fat loss in a specific area like your belly is generally not possible. Not by eating more of a specific food or by doing a specific exercise. To reduce belly fat you have to lose weight overall.
Since chia seeds can help you lose weight in general, depending on your current habits, this food can also help you lose belly fat once your body wants to lose fat in your abdominal area. That being said, there is a wide variety of foods that are more helpful than chia seeds for reducing belly fat.