This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
What you eat plays a big role when getting in shape. Find out whether flaxseeds are good for weight loss, when to eat them, how to eat them, and more.
It is true that 100 grams of flaxseeds is high in calories but at the same time, many of these calories come from fiber, and fats which are relatively filling.
Additionally, flaxseeds contain a lot of valuable vitamins and minerals in great amounts.
This makes flaxseeds decent to good for weight loss but you do need to keep some things in mind.
If you still lack protein in your diet and/or the flaxseeds help you eat less of foods that are less helpful for weight loss, this food can help you lose weight.
On the flip side, if you just add flaxseeds on top of your regular diet with any other changes you could definitely gain weight too.
Micronutrients in flax seeds
Different categories of calories like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates are definitely important when it comes to losing weight.
At the same time, it can sometimes be helpful to take a look at the micronutrients (including vitamins and minerals) in foods like flaxseeds. These nutrients play roles in things like weight loss and health.
100 grams of raw flax seeds contains the following vitamins and minerals (1):
- Manganese: 124% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Thiamin: 110% of the DV
- Magnesium: 98% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 64% of the DV
- Copper: 61% of the DV
- Selenium 36% of the DV
- Iron: 32% of the DV
- Zinc: 29% of the DV
- Calcium: 26% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 24% of the DV
- Potassium: 23% of the DV
- Folate: 22% of the DV
- Niacin: 15% of the DV
And a few other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts.
It is fair to call flaxseeds a powerhouse when it comes to micronutrients.
You likely still need at least some other nutritious foods in your diet but flaxseeds can already offer a big part of your daily vitamin and mineral goals.
Flax seeds also contain other micronutrients like anti-oxidants. Different types of these can have different effects on your health and potentially weight loss.
Fiber in flax seeds for weight loss
When figuring out whether a plant-based food like flax seeds is good for weight loss or not you definitely want to look at its fiber content.
Before going into the weight loss benefits of this nutrient, raw flaxseeds contain around 27.3 grams of fiber per 100 grams (1).
This is an enormous amount of fiber compared to most other foods. In the context of losing weight, this will be good for most people.
The first reason for this is that fiber makes you feel fuller without really adding a lot of absorbable calories to your diet.
Because so many people struggle with hunger and cravings while trying to lose weight, this can be a big benefit.
Secondly, fiber tends to be considered beneficial for your microbiome and gut health. In turn, these areas of your health seem to be related to losing weight.
In short, the high amounts of fiber in flaxseeds can help you feel fuller and potentially help you improve gut health.
Protein in flax seeds for weight loss
While animal-based foods do tend to contain more protein, certain plant-based sources like flaxseeds contain relatively high amounts too.
More specifically, raw flaxseeds contain around 18.3 grams of protein per 100 grams (1).
This is not quite as much as the 25.4 grams of protein per 100 grams of salmon (2). However, flaxseeds can definitely help you consume a lot more of this nutrient.
Protein tends to be a helpful nutrient for weight loss.
The first way protein helps in this area is by helping you build and preserve muscle mass. How much you weigh plays a big role in how many calories you burn throughout the day.
By building and preserving healthy mass, your weight loss journey becomes easier.
Secondly, protein is also a relatively filling category of nutrients. As mentioned in the fiber section, many people will find this benefit valuable.
Do flax seeds help you lose belly fat?
Whether or not flaxseeds help you lose belly fat requires two separate explanations.
First of all, it is typically not possible to target fat loss in specific areas by eating certain foods or doing certain exercises. So to lose belly fat, you have to lose enough weight overall.
Secondly, 100 grams of raw flaxseeds contain around 534 calories per 100 grams.
This is relatively high compared to many other foods. Even if you consider that a good amount (109.2) of these calories come from fiber which does not really count for weight loss.
Since the net amount of carbohydrates in them is so low, flaxseeds are good for keto and other low-carb diets.
Even small amounts of flaxseeds can help you feel a lot fuller without adding that many calories to your diet. This could help you eat less of foods that are less helpful for losing weight.
On the flip side, eating too many flaxseeds could lead to gaining weight too.
So flaxseeds are decent to good for weight loss but you want to keep an eye on the rest of your diet and other lifestyle habits too.
In turn, they could potentially help you lose belly fat when your body starts using a lot of energy from this area.
How much flax seed do you need to eat to lose weight?
The question then becomes how many flaxseeds can you fit into your daily weight loss diet.
Unfortunately, there is no single guideline that applies to every individual. Details like your weight, the rest of your diet, your other lifestyle habits, etc. influence the recommended flaxseed consumption a lot.
If you want to consume more flaxseeds with the goal of losing weight, you likely want to start with something small like 30 grams.
This will offer you a lot of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals while still being reasonable in terms of calories.
After that, you want to track your weight loss results for a few weeks and decide whether you want to eat more or fewer flaxseeds.
Possible side effects of eating flax seeds
Some categories of people likely want to talk to an expert before consuming more flaxseeds because they are sensitive to side effects from eating this food:
- Pregnant women
- People who get digestive problems by increasing fiber intake
- People with thin blood or who already take blood thinning medication
- People who are deficient in calcium, zinc, magnesium, copper, and iron
When to eat flax seeds
A good weight loss diet does not only detail what you eat but also when you eat.
In the case of flaxseeds, you want to keep in mind that this food can take a while to digest. Having to digest food typically influences sleep quality and duration negatively.
That means you preferably want to eat flaxseeds at least a few hours before bedtime.
Eating flaxseeds at night likely won’t be the end of your weight loss journey but you may as well consume them at a time that is more optimal.
How to eat flax seeds
Most people do not eat flaxseeds on their own. You want to keep in mind that what dishes you combine with this food influence how weight-loss-friendly your diet will be.
First of all, you likely want to ground down the flaxseeds so that your body is able to extract the nutrients from them. After that, you can use your creativity.
For example, since yogurt tends to be good for weight loss on its own, it is generally a good match for flaxseeds when getting in shape.
You could also add flaxseeds to certain smoothies to make them more filling.
It is also possible to add flaxseeds to oatmeal, soup, and many other dishes. Again, there are a variety of options.