Everybody who follows the ongoing trends on healthy dietary habits must have heard, or even tasted chia seeds. Many people are recommending consumption of chia seeds as part of a healthy meal. But what exactly are chia seeds? And is the hype about losing weight by consuming chia seeds true at all? What’s the facts about Chia Seeds for weight loss treatments?
Historically, chia seeds have been claimed to be part of the Aztec and Mayan ancient diets, but it was also believed to be banned due to the use of chia seeds in traditional rituals. That explains the meaning of the word ‘chia’ as strength in ancient Mayan.
Biologically, chia belongs to the mint family (from a plant called Salvia hispanica) and is originated from Mexico. They are basically carbohydrates derived from nongrass plants and they are eaten like whole grains. When it is mixed with water or liquid, it changes its form into a solid thick gel.
Nutritional Facts of Chia Seeds
Now let us discuss regarding the nutritional aspect. A single serving of 1 ounce or 28 grams of chia seeds amounts to 138 calories. This represents 9 percent of the daily calorie intake for a 1500 calorie diet. It also contains 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fats (which are mostly omega three fatty acids), 18 percent, 30 percent, and 27 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, respectively. Additionally, it contains a good amount of zinc, vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2.
Chia seeds have extensive health benefits. But the long-awaited truth regarding how chia seeds help in losing weight is explained below.
1. High fibers in chia seeds
Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain around 10 grams of fiber. That number is equivalent to 40 percent of the recommended daily intake of fibers. It is for this high content of fiber that chia seeds are thought to be helping in losing weight and decrease appetite, as they are filling and consuming them will make our stomach feel full for long because they are absorbed at a slow rate in the large intestine, and therefore, we will tend to avoid overeating.
Additionally, according to research about facts about Chia Seeds for weight loss treatments, daily consumption of 30 grams of fiber will result in weight loss that is just as effective as adopting a complicated diet routine.
2. Excellent protein source
The protein in chia seeds amounts to about 14%, which is considered high among most plants. It also contains a good fair of essential amino acids, which are necessary to be consumed because our bodies do not have mechanisms to produce them on their own.
This nutritional fact is also beneficial in losing weight. Research has shown that high intake of protein decreases appetite and reduces obsessive thoughts about food (which is definitely our main problem!) by 60%. Moreover, it reduces the urge to consume snacks at night time by 50%. That sounds like a decent way of controlling our cravings.
3. Fuel for energy
It is no wonder that the current hype suggests incorporating chia seeds in your breakfast, as it is actually a good source of energy due to the relatively high caloric content.
This fact has been backed up by a study which compared between two groups which either consumed gatorade or a mix of half gatorade/half chia seeds. Following that, both groups performed running on a treadmill for an hour, and continued to a timed 10 kilometer run. The result showed that there was no significant difference between both groups, which meant that incorporating chia seeds on half portion of the plate will just be as effective in increasing your performance, compared to eating gatorade only.
However, not meaning to get your hopes high, not all studies back up the beneficial facts of chia seeds on losing weight.
In a study focusing on overweight and obesity, consumption of 50 grams of chia seeds per day for 12 consecutive weeks gave no effect on body weight or health markers in 90 overweight people.
Similarly, in another study of 62 women, consumption of chia seeds for 10 weeks consecutively also had no significant effect on body weight, however, the good news is that it spiked the amount of omega three fatty acids in blood. So at least we know that the omega-3s are real.
Potential Side Effects
It is important to keep in mind that there is no single food that will grant immediate weight loss in a healthy way. The key to losing weight healthily requires a balanced diet that fulfills calories that can be used up for energy each day without storing or retaining them as excess fats in our body. The daily caloric requirement depends on variable factors, such as the height, weight, body composition, daily activity levels, age and gender. From the total amount of required intake of calories, cutting 500 calories daily will result in significant weight loss in one week, and this is considered the safe rate for healthy weight loss.
Since chia seeds contain a load amount of fibers as previously mentioned, it is probably expected that some people with sensitive stomach may experience gastrointestinal side effects, varying from constipation to diarrhea. Experiencing hard stools and bloating is also common.
Some people who are not used to consuming chia seeds in their daily meals might exhibit allergic symptoms. This includes experiencing difficulty in breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramp, hives, and watery eyes. If any of these symptoms occur, be sure to call for medical attention.