Healthy Living

Chia Seeds For Weight Loss: Myth Or Fact?

Chia seeds are touted as one of the many superfoods of the twenty-first century. Weight loss enthusiasts sprinkle them on deserts, smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal and salads to add something healthy to their diets, not just in hopes of replenishing the body with minerals and vitamins, but primarily to achieve weight loss goals fast. 

What’s more, food bloggers never fail to show off this so-called magic food on Instagram, adding much hype online to the reputation of chia seeds as a go-to weight loss ingredient. But there is no one food and shortcut to losing weight, only following a balanced diet and exercising regularly aid weight loss in the long term.

These pseudo grains from non-grass plants have health benefits no doubt, for the seeds are rich in essential nutrients, namely omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, and magnesium. Don’t be mistaken, the myth is perpetuated widely not due to some old wives’ tale, but essentially because chia seeds have a high content of fiber and protein, too.  

However, the fact remains that there is not a single study to support claims of the abundant consumption of chia seeds leading to weight loss. Contrariwise, a few studies are said to back these claims in general terms. One such study (elaborated below) showed that incorporating protein-rich food in the diet can help catalyze weight loss. 

Protein

The study conducted by scientists at Biofortis Clinical Research in partnership with the department of exercise physiology and nutrition at the University of Missouri suggested that chia seeds could somehow help promote weight loss.

The study was based on pre-structured breakfast habits of 35 women aged 18 to 55. The participants were served one breakfast consisting of just a glass of water, while the other two times they were served breakfast containing 300 calories each.

The difference lies in the protein content, one breakfast had 3 grams of protein, while the other breakfast had nearly two thirds of the Required Daily Intake (RDI), roughly about 30 to 39 grams of protein. Women who consumed breakfasts with high protein content were more satisfied and less hungry. Surprisingly, they consumed 175 fewer calories while eating lunch.

For every 100 grams of chia seeds, 16.5 grams of protein are consumed, which is half of the RDI needed to reduce the appetite.

16 Chia Seeds Even though no data has shown that the fiber in chia seeds actually makes you full, all that fiber plus the countless other nutrients found in chia seeds makes it a great food for a healthy lifestyle. Getty Images

Fiber

Per 100 grams of chia seeds have 34.4 grams of dietary fiber. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School studied the impact of two diets on 240 people with metabolic syndrome who were divided into two groups.

On average, both groups consumed 19 grams of fiber, though the first group consciously ate more fruits and vegetables, while the second group just had totally 30 grams of fiber without any other additions to the diet. Both groups, regardless of the type of diet, lost weight after 12 months with little difference from each other. 

This study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine proved that eating a fiber-rich food does in fact contribute to weight loss, almost as much as the diet recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA).   

Study Debunks Myth 

The Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science at Appalachian State University studied the effectiveness of chia seeds on weight loss in obese adults aged between 20 and 70 years. At first, 90 people participated in the diet, however, only 76 men and women completed all the phases of the study.

The participants were divided into two groups who took either 25 grams of chia seeds or placebo supplements in 0.25 L water twice a day, before breakfast and dinner for 12 continuous weeks.

There was no difference in the measures of body composition, inflammation, blood pressure, lipoproteins and oxidative stress before or after the study in both sexes.

“In conclusion, ingestion of 50 g/d CS vs P for 12 weeks by overweight/obese men and women had no influence on body mass or composition, or various disease risk factor measures,” researchers said in their study.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), every 100 grams of chia seeds contain 486 grams of calories, thus you have to be aware of the quantity you eat every day. Exceeding the daily requirement of calories could ironically lead to weight gain instead of weight loss.

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