Chia Seeds or Flax Seeds for weight loss
Chia or flax, which one of these two healthy seeds is better, and are these seeds effective for weight loss? To find the answers to these questions we must know what is the difference between chia seeds and flax seeds, their nutrition profile, and what the science says about weight loss and adding chia and flax into your diet.
Let’s first see some basic information about chia and flax seeds:
Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a mint plant native to parts of Guatemala and Mexico. Chia seeds are now popular healthy food, but they are one of the oldest forms of nutrition, used by Mayans and Aztecs. “Chia” means strength, and these tiny black and white seeds were used as energy boosters by ancient cultures.
Flax seeds come from the flax plant, Linum usitatissimum. Also known as linseeds, are small oil seeds that are usually brown or yellow and are sold as whole, ground, or roasted, also often processed into flaxseed oil. It was primarily used to create textile, but today flaxseed is called a “functional food” – which means that a person can eat it to boost their health.
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Difference between chia seeds and flax seeds
The key difference between these two healthy seeds is their shape and taste. Chia seeds are more round, blend, and tasteless, while flax seeds have a stronger nutty flavor and more oval shape.
Other than shape and taste, chia seeds and flax seeds have other differences such as the amount of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals. Another thing is the way that you can use them to add to your diet (it’s recommended to soak chia seeds before eating, while it is not a thing with flax seeds).
Let’s take a look at the nutritional difference between chia and flaxseed.
Chia and flax seeds are both rich in nutrients, here is a comparative of the number of major nutrients in 1 ounce (28 gram) portion, or around 3 tablespoons.
- Calories: 137
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fiber: 11 grams
- Fat: 9 grams
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 4,900 mg
- Omega-6 fatty acids: 1,600 mg
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDI
- Thiamine (B1): 11% of the RDI
- Manganese: 30% of the RDI
- Iron: 12% of the RDI
- Calories: 150
- Carbs: 8 grams
- Protein: 5 grams
- Fiber: 8 grams
- Fat: 12 grams
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 6,400 mg
- Omega-6 fatty acids: 1,700 mg
- Magnesium: 27% of the RDI
- Thiamine (B1): 31% of the RDI
- Manganese: 31% of the RDI
- Iron: 9% of the RDI
As we can see from the nutritional data of these seeds, we can conclude that both seeds are rich in nutrients. If we make a little comparison flax seeds have a slightly upper amount of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain significantly more thiamine and manganese.
Chia seeds contain fewer calories, more carbs, and fiber. They also contain 1.5-2 times more of the bone-strengthening minerals calcium (18% of the RDI) and phosphorus (27% of the RDI).
Chia vs. Flax Nutrition
If you are looking for the highest amount of fiber and bone-strengthening minerals choose chia seeds. Pick flax seeds if you are looking for omega-3s.
Chia seeds for weight loss
Why chia seeds are linked with weight loss? Well, the main theory is that since chia seeds are filling and high in fiber they keep you fuller longer, so they may therefore help prevent overeating.
There is a belief that diets high in fiber are linked with weight loss. There is research from 2015 which shows that eating 30 grams of fiber per day may help you lose as much weight as if you followed a more complicated diet.
Just two tablespoons of chia seeds have almost 10 grams of fiber, and that is around 40% of the RDI.
But there is something else, there are more studies on chia seeds and their weight loss effect, and the results are the opposite of this 2015 research. A 2009 study of 76 overweight people, looked at what happened when study subjects consumed 3 tbsp chia seeds (around 25 grams) in water, twice a day, before the first and the last meal of the day.
After 12 weeks the subjects were measured for changes in body mass, body composition, blood glucose, blood pressure.
Results? Body mass didn’t change for either the chia subjects or those getting placebo powder. The only change in subjects in this trial was increased levels of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Scientists from this study also found that the daily fiber intake by almost 19 grams “should have induced a sense of fulness before the morning and evening meals”, but no weight loss was observed by the end of this 12-week study.
There is nothing magic about chia seeds and weight loss. All that fiber in chia seeds can certainly help, increased fiber intake is linked with weight loss, their high protein content is also an important piece of the weight loss puzzle. These small but mighty edible seeds are also good if you are making an effort to lower your calorie intake.
Now we come to the final answer to our question: are chia seeds good for weight loss? – Yes, they may help you with your weight loss goals. But weight loss is all about paying attention to your overall diet and exercise routine, not about eating more or less of certain food.
If you haven’t added chia seeds into your diet, well you should start incorporating them. Find out more about chia seeds, the benefits of consuming them, and how to add them into your diet in this article: Chia Seeds: Benefits, Side Effects, and How To Eat Them.
Flax seeds for weight loss
When it comes to flax seeds many people believe that these seeds can be used in our diet as a way to jumpstart or speed up weight loss. There is a reason to believe that flax seeds can help some people to lose weight, but the science gives some conflicting results.
Same as chia seeds, flax seeds are also high in fiber. When you eat them you feel full for longer and this can suppress your desire to eat. Additionally eating fiber is essential to moving food through your intestines and keeping your colon free of obstructions. It also helps in stabilizing blood sugar and helping you reach a healthy weight.
Let’s see what science says about flax seeds and weight loss! – A study from 2017 aimed to review and analyze the effects of flaxseed consumption on body weight and body composition.
The results of this review showed that:
- The fiber in flaxseeds may lead to weight loss, that’s because as we mentioned before it fills you up and helps you stay full. For this reason, researchers found that whole flaxseed is more effective than flaxseed oil (which is devoid of fiber).
- The greater the BMI of the person supplementing with flax seeds the more pronounced the effect. Women who supplemented their diet with flaxseed experienced a greater weight loss effect than men who did the same.
Flax seeds aren’t a magical ingredient and they won’t create a calorie deficit all by themselves, without an exercise plan and healthy diet.
If you are interested in adding flax seeds into your diet you should know some things about these healthy seeds.
Don’t consume raw or unripe flax seeds. Not only will they cause indigestion they may also contain toxic compounds. Always use ground flax seeds, whole flax seeds have a longer shelf-life. So you can buy whole flax seeds and grind them in a food processor or coffee grinder before using them.
When you start using flax seeds make sure to drink plenty of water. If you are not hydrated enough when you use flax seeds your body won’t be able to digest the excess fiber in your body properly. This can result in stomach cramps and constipation.
There are many ways how you can eat flax seeds, and if you are interested in adding flax seeds to your daily meals here is an article that will help you to learn more about this: Best Ways To Eat Flax Seeds Without Changing Your Diet.
Before start adding flax seeds into your diet, find out more about the benefits and potential side effects of flax seeds, in this article: Flaxseed: Benefits, Uses, and Possible Side Effects.
Should you eat chia seeds and flax seeds together?
The short answer is YES! Both seeds will supply a range of nutrients. To incorporate the seeds into your daily regime start by eating one tablespoon of each type of seed daily.
If you aren’t used to eating this much fiber start with a half tablespoon of each so first so your digestive system can adjust.
Don’t forget to soak chia seeds before eating at least 20 minutes. Soak them in almond milk or water (1/4 cup seeds to 1 cup liquid). Soaked chia seeds can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, so you can make a big batch at the start of the week.
Also when it comes to flax seeds, it is recommended to grind them if you have whole flax seeds. But you can buy also ground flax seeds.
Are chia seeds or flax seeds better for weight loss?
Flax seeds may be slightly more effective at reducing appetite and hunger. As we mentioned above both seeds are a great source of fiber.
Even chia seeds contain 11 grams of fiber in 1 ounce (3 tablespoons) and flax seeds a little less 8 grams in 1 ounce (3 tablespoons). flax seeds contain more soluble fiber.
Soluble fiber is effective at reducing appetite and hunger, it tends to become sticky when mixed with water and helps to slow down digestion, and also increases the feeling of fulness.
The soluble fiber in both seeds
Only 5% of the total fiber in chia seeds is soluble, and up to 40% of the fiber in flax seeds is soluble.
This is the reason why flax seeds may be more effective at suppressing hunger and appetite than chia seeds.
This effect of flax seeds is backed by science too. In randomized control trial participants given a flax drink, containing the amount of soluble fiber found in approximately 1 ounce (28 grams) of flaxseed, reported lower feelings of hunger and appetite than those given control drinks.
Final words about the difference between chia and flax seeds and their weight loss effects
Chia seeds or flax seeds, which one is better? – There is no strict answer to this question. Both seeds are good for you and you should incorporate them into your diet.
Both seeds are great sources of fiber, healthy fats, and protein. Also, they supply a range of micronutrients like manganese, thiamine, phosphorus, etc.
From all written above we can say that when it comes to weight loss, flax seeds are slightly more effective than chia seeds. The main reason for this is their higher soluble fiber content, which keeps you full longer.
But weight loss is a process that requires changing of lifestyle, more exercise, than just picking one food. So if your goal is to lose weight, eat more healthy food, change your lifestyle, exercise more.
Yes, you definitely should add chia and flax seeds to your diet. To reap all the benefits from these healthy seeds add a half or one full tablespoon of each to your favorite smoothie, yogurt, oatmeal, baked goods. There are so many ways to incorporate these seeds into your diet.
Finally, the difference between these two seeds remains small. No matter what you choose you won’t make a mistake. Try both of them, and see which one is better for you, both of them are a great addition to your diet.