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You might have come across a new “Chia seeds weight loss” FAD diet. This short article reveals why the chia seeds weight loss diet doesn’t work.
Current scientific evidence can be divided into two categories:
Direct association between consumption of chia seeds and weight loss
There are not many studies that directly measure weight loss through the consumption of chia seeds.
The currently available studies are rather conflicting, with some showing no changes to weight or to any of the risk factors in overweight and obese individuals, and others showing a small impact on central body fat reduction.
A few recent studies show promising results of the chia seeds on obesity risk factors and small effects of chia seeds on weight loss. This may be due to improved methods of measurement and longer periods of study.
Note that even if the future studies will confirm a tiny decrease in the body weight over a long period of time, it is still not sufficient to base a diet on chia seeds.
The following is a summary of the most important studies:
In 2009, a study showed that eating 50 grams per day of chia seeds for 12 weeks hadn’t reduced weight or any of the risk factors in overweight and obese adults. (1)
In 2012, another study showed that 25 grams per day of chia seeds (whole or milled) for 10 weeks by overweight women, although there was increased plasma ALA and EPA, didn’t show improvements in the risk factors in overweight postmenopausal women. (2, 3)
In 2014, a study presented conflicting results. It found evidence that 35 grams of chia flour per day for 12 weeks promotes a small weight loss and reduces total cholesterol and VLDL cholesterol. However, it increases HDL cholesterol. (4)
A 2016 study on 77 overweight or obese patients with type 2 diabetes conducted over six months, showed that supplementing 30 grams per day promotes weight loss, improves obesity risk factors and controls blood glucose. (5)
Finally, a 2018 systematic review on the health effects of eating chia seeds used 12 available quality controlled trials and showed that at higher dosages, chia seeds help control blood sugar levels, lower high density lipoproteins and lower diastolic pressure. However, weight loss was not one of the results.
This systematic review also suggested that more and better-quality studies are needed to evaluate the potential health benefits of chia seeds. (6)
- Chia seeds weight loss diet is just another FAD diet that should not be taken seriously.
- Studies show that there is no direct association between eating chia seeds and weight loss.
- Only small number of studies show a small reduction of weight over a long period of time.
- Just by eating more chia seeds will not make you slimmer.
Association between individual nutrients in chia seeds and weight loss
While the overall results of studies measuring the direct association between chia seeds and weight loss are rather disappointing, chia seeds contain several constituents that are individually proven to contribute to good health and indirectly lead to weight loss. For more details read 17 Chia seeds benefits – what is the evidence?.
High contents of fiber and protein is the main focus of the claims in chia seeds weight loss diets.
Chia seeds have the highest fiber contents of all edible plant foods. (see other high fiber foods here)
Although fiber has shown to replace energy foods in the diet, increase satiety, improve bowel movements, slow down absorption, lower insulin levels and reduce inflammation in the body, it is not a weight loss remedy and no diet should be based solely on this nutrient. (read more..)
High protein contents in chia seeds may also have weight controlling effects, since a diet rich in protein reduces appetite, increases satiety in overweight and obese individuals and contributes to significant weight loss in low carbohydrate diets. (7, 8)
Chia seeds contain a large amount of omega 3 fatty acids, mostly alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which doesn’t have the same health promoting properties as other omega 3 fatty acids, such as DHA and EPA.
Therefore, the benefits of omega 3 in chia seeds in weight loss or obesity risk factors should not be taken into account.
- Studies show that specific nutrients in chia seeds may have weight loss controlling effects such as reduced appetite, lower blood insulin levels, reduced inflammation, increase satiety or slowed rate of absorption.
NUTRITION FACTS VS NUTRITION MYTHS
You will find a summary of the most common nutrition myths and evidence-based nutrition facts here.