Can Chia Seed Water Actually Help You Lose Weight?

Some people on TikTok claim that sipping on H2O infused with chia seeds is the key to dropping pounds. Here's what you need to know.

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Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, which may help you feel more full and prevent overeating.Adobe Stock

Is chia seed water a magic weight loss potion? According to proponents of a viral TikTok health trend, drinking this super seed steeped in H2O may be the key to preventing overeating and ultimately succeeding in weight loss.

The TikTok user @happyandhealthyolivia shared the hack as part of her popular series “TikTok Health Trends That Actually Work.” The brief video has been viewed more than 17.7 million times since 2021 and includes a demonstration on how to make the purported weight loss beverage. “Just combine 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of chia seeds with a glass of water (optional: add lime) and drink 30 minutes before meals,” she says, adding that the mixture increases feelings of fullness.

Another user, @kanipark, claims that chia seed water has a number of health benefits. “Drinking chia seed water in the morning can give a boost to your digestion and improve bowel movement,” she writes, calling it “great for your protein intake, heart health, bone health, blood sugar control, digestion, weight loss, and inflammation.” It should be noted that these claims are not substantiated by scientific research, although chia seeds are indeed full of fiber, protein, good fats, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and antioxidants, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

As for the taste, according to @kanipark, “It doesn’t really taste like anything, but it doesn’t taste good, either. But if I drink this whole thing I know that I will be full because it is super thick.”

What Does Science Say About Chia Seeds for Weight Loss?

According to the nonprofit?FoodPrint, chia seeds come from the chia plant, Salvia hispanica, and they got their common name from Aztec warriors, who used them as a survival food.

There is no research on chia seed water for weight loss, or much rigorous research supporting the claim that chia seeds alone provide this benefit. An animal study published in Food Research International found that rats who consumed chia seeds lost more visceral fat than those who did not. One review published in the Journal of Medical and Health Sciences in 2023 concluded that chia seeds in conjunction with a low-calorie diet led to “significant weight loss,” but also noted that further research with longer intervention periods was necessary to establish the efficacy and optimal dosages of chia seed supplementation for effective weight management.”

Experts agree that while the research is limited, there may be some merit to adding chia seeds to your weight loss diet. “Chia seeds are high in fiber, which can increase satiety,” says Tara Collingwood, RDN, who is based in Orlando, Florida. They are also a good source of protein and fat, both of which are filling and may prevent overeating, she points out. Just 1 ounce (about 2 tbsp) of the tiny black seeds boasts 4.7 grams (g) protein, 10 g fiber (an excellent source), and 9 g fat (almost exclusively the good kind), per the USDA.

“Bottom line: Chia seeds can prevent hunger because they take a longer time to digest,” says Collingwood. On the other hand, a glass of chia seed water a day isn’t going to undo the damage of poor dietary choices or a caloric surplus.

What Are Other Health Benefits of Chia Seeds?

When you eat chia seeds, you’re getting more than a potential weight loss perk.

“Chia seeds are tiny, but they pack in more nutrition than you think,” says Collingwood. Often dubbed a “superfood,” they are bursting with omega-3 fatty acids (from alpha-lipoic acids or ALAs, the plant-based form of the fatty acids), antioxidants, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc, she notes.

A 2023 review, published in the Journal of Functional Foods, found that chia seeds contain antioxidants that may be protective for the liver and the heart, and may extend longevity and keep cancer at bay. Researchers also pointed out that as an ample source of fiber, chia can aid digestion and help manage health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression.

How Do You Make Chia Seed Water?

If you still want to whip up chia seed water, Collingwood suggests soaking the seeds in water for 30 minutes or until they are a “tapioca-like gel consistency.” There’s no set ratio water to chia seeds, but vloggers on TikTok are using 1 tbsp of the seeds in a typical glass (8 to 10 oz) of water.

While mixing chia with water won’t enhance the seeds’ potential weight loss perks, it will make them more palatable, not to mention safer to eat. (As Time previously reported, the super seeds can be a choking risk when eaten alone in raw form and in excess.)

If you aren’t into the idea of drinking chia seeds, try eating them dry on top of salads or putting them into baked goods, like breads or pancakes, Collingwood suggests. You can also add them to smoothies or use them to whip up a chia seed pudding for breakfast or a snack. To make the latter, simply mix chia seeds into your favorite type of milk and let sit overnight, Collingwood says. Add other mix-ins like fresh fruit, nuts, and sweetener as you wish. In one chia pudding recipe, the blogger Love and Lemons recommends 1? cup of milk to ? cup chia, plus other yummy mix-ins, such as cinnamon and fresh lemon or orange juice.

Are There Any Health Risks to Drinking Chia Seeds?

Because chia seeds are nutrient dense with a decent amount of calories and fat per serving, eat them in moderation. A typical serving size of chia seeds is 2 tbsp, which adds up to about 138 calories, according to the USDA.

Additionally, because chia seeds are so high in fiber, Collingwood urges consuming enough water or other liquid to wash them down. This will help promote digestion and prevent?constipation, gas, and other digestive issues associated with consuming too much fiber without water. If your diet is currently low in fiber, be sure to increase your intake of fiber gradually, as well, advises Mayo Clinic.

The Bottom Line: Should You Try Chia Seed Water?

So, are TikTokers onto something when it comes to chia seed water for weight loss? Per Collingwood, when combined with mindful, healthful eating, chia seeds could help you lose weight. “Chia is satiating, and can assist in preventing ravenous hunger and eating more later in the day, as long as someone is mindful about portions and pays attention to their body telling them if they are hungry or full,” she explains.

Chia seeds are not a magic bullet for weight loss. They do not burn extra calories or increase metabolism in any way. Additionally, if you consume too many of them, you might gain weight instead.

But a tablespoon added to your water may help fill you up and prevent you from eating more — in addition to offering other nutritional benefits.

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

Everyday Health follows strict sourcing guidelines to ensure the accuracy of its content, outlined in our editorial policy. We use only trustworthy sources, including peer-reviewed studies, board-certified medical experts, patients with lived experience, and information from top institutions.

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