Is chia seed water a magic pill that makes you lose weight? Proponents of the latest health trend to go viral on TikTok say that drinking the superseed soaked in water could stop you from eating too much and help you lose weight.
As part of her popular series “TikTok Health Trends That Actually Work,” user @happyandhealthyolivia posted the health hack. Since June 28, more than 12.4 million people have watched the short video. It shows how to make the supposed weight loss drink. “Just mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with a glass of water (you can add lime, but it’s not necessary) and drink 30 minutes before meals,” she says, adding that they make you feel fuller.
Another user, @kanipark, mixes her chia seed water and says that the tiny black seeds are full of fiber, protein, good fats, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and antioxidants. “Drinking chia seed water in the morning can give your digestion a boost and help you go to the bathroom more often. “Great for protein intake, heart health, bone health, blood sugar control, digestion, weight loss, and inflammation,” she writes. “It doesn’t taste like anything in particular, but it also doesn’t taste good. But I know that if I drink all of this, I’ll be full because it’s so thick.”
What Does Science Say About the Weight Loss Benefits of Chia Seeds?
According to the nonprofit FoodPrint, chia seeds come from the Salvia Hispanica plant. The Aztec warriors who used them as survival foods gave them their name.
There is no research on chia seed water for weight loss, and there isn’t much research on chia seeds alone that shows they help with weight loss. For example, in a small Brazilian study published in 2015 in the journal Nutricion Hospitalaria, 26 overweight or obese men and women who ate 35 grams (about 3 tablespoons) of chia seeds every day for 12 weeks lost weight. Still, the study was small and only lasted a short time.
Still, adding chia seeds to your diet may help you lose weight in some way. “Chia seeds have a lot of fiber, which can make you feel fuller,” says Tara Collingwood, RDN, of Orlando, Florida. She also points out that they are a good source of protein and fat, both of which make you feel full and may keep you from eating too much. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, just 1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) of the tiny black seeds has 4.7g of protein, 10g of fiber (an excellent source), and 9g of fat (almost all the good kind) (USDA).
“In short, chia seeds can keep you from getting hungry because they take longer to digest.” But even if you drink a glass of chia seed water every day, it won’t make up for bad food choices or too many calories.
What are some other ways chia seeds can help your health?
Chia seeds give you more than just a chance to lose weight if you eat them.
Collingwood says, “Chia seeds are small, but they have more nutrients than you might think.” She says that they are often called “superfoods” because they are full of omega-3 fatty acids (from alpha-lipoic acids, or ALAs, which come from plants), antioxidants, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc.
A previous review, published in April 2016 in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, suggested that chia seeds contain antioxidants that may protect the liver and the heart, help people live longer, and keep cancer at bay. Researchers also said that because they have a lot of fiber, they can help with digestion and make it easier to deal with health problems like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression.
How do you make water from chia seeds?
Collingwood says that if you still want to make chia seed water, you should soak the seeds in water for 30 minutes or until they have a “tapioca-like gel consistency.” There is no set amount of water to chia seeds, but vloggers on TikTok use 1 tbsp of the seeds in a regular glass of water.
Even though mixing chia seeds with water won’t make them better for weight loss, it will make them more tasty and safer to eat. (As Time has said before, the superseeds can cause choking if you eat too many of them raw and on their own.)
Collingwood says that if you don’t like the idea of drinking chia seeds, you can eat them dry on salads or add them to baked goods like breads or pancakes. You can also put them in smoothies or make chia seed pudding, which you can eat for breakfast or as a snack. Collingwood says that to make the second one, just mix chia seeds with your favorite kind of milk and let it sit overnight. You can also add other things like fresh fruit, nuts, and sweeteners. One chia pudding recipe from the blog Love and Lemons calls for 1 1/2 cups of milk and 1/4 cup of chia, plus cinnamon and fresh lemon or orange juice.
Is it bad for your health to drink chia seeds?
Because chia seeds have a lot of nutrients and a fair amount of calories and fat per serving, you should eat them in small amounts. The USDA says that a typical serving size of chia seeds is 2 tablespoons, which has about 138 calories.
Also, chia seeds have a lot of fiber, so Collingwood says to drink enough water or other liquid to wash them down. This will help digestion and keep you from getting constipation, gas, and other stomach problems that can happen when you eat too much fiber without water. The Mayo Clinic says that if your diet doesn’t have much fiber right now, you should slowly add more fiber to it.
Should you try chia seed water in the end?
So, is it a good idea for TikTokers to drink chia seed water to lose weight? Collingwood says that chia seeds could help you lose weight if you eat healthily and pay attention to what you eat. “Chia is filling, so it can help keep you from getting ravenous hunger and eating more later in the day,” she says. This is true as long as you watch your portions and listen to your body when it tells you if you are hungry or full.
But chia seeds aren’t a miracle cure for losing weight. They do nothing to burn more calories or speed up the metabolism. Also, if you eat too many of them, you might end up gaining weight.
But adding a tablespoon to your water may help you feel full and stop you from eating more. It may also help your health in other ways.
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