Can Eating Chia Seeds Help Weight Loss?

A growing trend recently has been the recommendation of eating chia seeds for weight loss. Chia seeds (Salvia Hispanica), believe it or not are the same seeds that are contained in the Chia Pet, a silly clay pottery figure brought to you by the makers of everyone’s favorite- The Clapper.

There’s Chia Pet, the ridiculous looking Chia Head, even a Chia Homer Simpson. DOH!

homer simpson chia pet

Photo: misterbisson

Can Eating Chia Seeds Help Weight Loss?

The first time I had Chia seed was back around 2005 at a health seminar. At the back of the place they were selling all the well known protein and meal replacement bars but I noticed a new funky looking one I hadn’t tried before-The Coco Chia bar.

It had chia seeds and coconut as the main ingredients. I love coconut and never had chia seeds before so I went for it. The bar was delicious and had a very nice texture from the chia seeds.

I ended up buying a box of 12 and loved them, but I wasn’t thrilled about the miniscule amount of protein in the bar so I didn’t bother ordering more. Come to think of it, I haven’t really seen the Coco Chia bar in stores often anyway.

So what are chia seeds?

Well, Chia are edible seeds that look sort of like poppy seeds, only more on the grayish/black side as opposed to blue. According to several sources, they were a valuable source of nutrition for the Aztec warriors and Mayans thousands of years ago.

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So are chia seeds good for you?

Chia seeds are actually packed with fiber (an ounce of chia seeds pack a punch of 11 grams of fiber). As you know, we’re a big fan of getting more fiber in your diet.

They are also high in Omega- 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and a host of other valuable micronutrients.

So can chia seeds help weight loss?

It depends. There’s been one study done on chia seeds where researchers split 76 obese men and woman into 2 groups. One of the groups was given 50 grams of chia seeds per day, split twice per day- 25 grams before breakfast and 25 grams before dinner. After 12 weeks there was no significant weight loss found.

While this is an interesting study, I’m not so sure I’d write off chia seeds just yet. That’s only one way of using chia seeds.

So how do I think you can benefit from Chia seeds?

As you know, to lose weight you need to take in less calories than you burn during the day. You may be able to experiment with other ways to using the chia seeds that could possibly help “take in less calories” part of the equation.

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Chia seeds are not a magic weight loss food. They do not increase your metabolic rate or get your heart cranking. But they do hold some interesting physical characteristics that you may be able to take advantage of.

  • The chia seed is hydrophilic, meaning it attracts water. It will also form a gel when left in water for a while.
  • Try putting 2 tablespoons of chia into a glass of water and within about 20 minutes, you will have a glass full of what looks like clear hair gel with black dots.
  • The benefit of this gel is that when ingested, it can help slow digestion, making you feel fuller longer.
  • Now, to put this into action you can add it to foods that have a similar texture- yogurt, Jell- O, jellies, your favorite sauces, protein puddings, anywhere cream is used.

You get the idea. Try some, experiment and tell me how it went.

Yeah, but what do Chia taste like?

I’ve tasted the dry seeds and it’s faintly nutty. Very faintly. When you make a gel out of it, it tastes like nothing.

Are there any side effects of eating chia?

They get stuck in your teeth sort of like poppy seeds. DOH!

-Mike