Chia Seed Water for Weight Loss: Does It Work? - Everyday Health
Is chia seed water a magic weight loss potion? According to proponents of the latest viral TikTok health trend, drinking the superseed steeped in H2O may be the key to prevent overeating and ultimately helping with weight loss.
TikTok user @happyandhealthyolivia shared the health hack as part of her popular series “TikTok Health Trends That Actually Work.” The brief video has been viewed over 12.4 million times since June 28 and includes a demonstration on how to make the purported weight loss beverage. “Just combine 1 tablespoon [tbsp] of chia seeds with a glass of water (optional: add lime) and drink 30 minutes before meals,” she says, in addition to explaining they increase feelings of fullness.
Another user, @kanipark, mixes her chia seed water, boasting that the tiny black seeds are filled with fiber, protein, good fats, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and antioxidants. “Drinking chia seed water in the morning can give a boost to your digestion and improve bowel movement. Great for your protein intake, heart health, bone health, blood sugar control, digestion, weight loss, and inflammation,” she writes. “It doesn’t really taste like anything but it doesn’t taste good either. But if I drink this whole thing I know that I will be full because it is super thick.”
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What Does Science Say About Chia Seeds for Weight Loss?
According to the nonprofit FoodPrint, chia seeds come from the chia plant, Salvia Hispanica, and they earned their name from Aztec warriors, who used them as survival foods.
There is no research on chia seed water for weight loss, and even on chia seeds alone, there is a lack of rigorous research suggesting they provide this benefit. For example, a small Brazilian study published in 2015 in Nutricion Hospitalaria involving 26 men and women who were overweight or had obesity found that eating 35 grams (about 3 tbsp) of chia seeds daily for 12 weeks resulted in weight loss. That said, the study was small and short term.
Still, there may be some merit to adding chia seeds to your weight loss diet. “Chia seeds are high in fiber, which can help to increase satiety,” says Tara Collingwood, RDN, who is based in Orlando, Florida. They are also a good source of protein and fat, both of which are filling and may prevent overeating, she points out. Just 1 ounce (about 2 tbsp) of the tiny black seeds boasts 4.7g protein, 10 g fiber (an excellent source), and 9 g fat (almost exclusively the good kind), per the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“Bottom line: Chia seeds can prevent hunger because they take a longer time to digest.” However, drinking a glass of chia seed water a day isn’t going to undo the damage of poor dietary choices or a caloric surplus.
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What Are Other Health Benefits of Chia Seeds?
When you eat chia seeds, you’re getting more than a potential weight loss perk.
“Chia seeds are tiny, but they pack in more nutrition than you think,” says Collingwood. Often dubbed a “superfood,” they are packed with omega-3 fatty acids (from alpha-lipoic acids or ALAs, the plant-based form of the fatty acids), antioxidants, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc, she notes.
A previous review, published in April 2016 in the Journal of Food Science and Technology , suggested chia seeds contain antioxidants that may be protective to the liver and the heart, and may help extend longevity and help keep cancer at bay. Researchers also pointed out that as an ample source of fiber, they can aid in digestion and help manage health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression.
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How Do You Make Chia Seed Water?
If you still want to whip up chia seed water, Collingwood suggests soaking them in water for 30 minutes or until they are a “tapioca-like gel consistency.” There’s no set ratio for water to chia seeds, but vloggers on TikTok are using 1 tbsp of the seeds in a typical glass of water.
While mixing chia with water won’t enhance the seeds’ potential weight loss perks, it will make them more palatable, not to mention safer to eat. (As Time previously reported, the superseeds can be a choking risk when eaten alone in raw form and in excess.)
If you aren’t into the idea of drinking chia seeds, try eating them dry on top of salads or putting them into baked goods, like breads or pancakes, Collingwood suggests. You can also add them to smoothies or use them to whip up a chia seed pudding for breakfast or a snack. To make the latter, simply mix chia seeds into your favorite type of milk and let sit overnight, Collingwood says. Add other mix-ins like fresh fruit, nuts, and sweetener as you wish. In one chia pudding recipe, blogger Love and Lemons recommends 1 ½ cup of milk to ¼ cup chia, plus other yummy mix-ins, such as cinnamon and fresh lemon or orange juice.
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Are There Any Health Risks of Drinking Chia Seeds?
Because chia seeds are nutrient dense with a decent amount of calories and fat per serving, eat them in moderation. A typical serving size of chia seeds is 2 tbsp, which contains about 138 calories, according to the USDA.
Additionally, because chia seeds are so high in fiber, Collingwood urges consuming enough water or other liquid to wash them down. This will help promote digestion and avoid constipation, gas and other digestive issues associated with consuming too much fiber without water. If your diet is currently low in fiber, be sure to increase your intake of fiber gradually, as well, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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The Bottom Line: Should You Try Chia Seed Water?
So, are TikToker’s onto something by drinking chia seed water for weight loss? Per Collingwood, when combined with mindful, healthful eating, chia seeds could help you lose weight. “Chia is satiating, and can assist in preventing ravenous hunger and eating more later in the day, as long as someone is mindful about portions and pays attention to their body telling them if they are hungry or full,” she explains.
But chia seeds are not a magic bullet for weight loss. They do not burn extra calories or increase metabolism in any way. Additionally, if you consume too many of them, you might gain weight instead.
However, adding a tablespoon to your water may help fill you up and prevent you from eating more — in addition to offering other health benefits as well.
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