Losing Weight With Chia Seeds: Does It Work?

Updated on 27. Dec. 2018

Chia seeds are the super food that everyone is talking about. This is probably because these tiny seeds contain huge amounts of valuable nutrients. But is it actually possible to lose weight with the help of chia seeds? This at least is the promise of the Aztec Diet. EAT SMARTER will give you the facts about this new approach to dieting.

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The Aztecs survived primarily on beans, corn, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruit, amaranth, quinoa and chia. Chia seeds especially were a main focus in their diets. In fact chia seeds, corn and beans were their three main foods. They liked these little seeds so much because they had the ability to strengthen their warriors on their long journeys, hunts and battles.

Chia Seeds: True Super Food

Chia seeds don’t just benefit the ancient Aztecs, but can do the same for you. This is a super food with growing popularity due to its huge nutrient content. Here are the stats:

Chia seeds contain:

  • 8 times more omega-3 fatty acid than farmed salmon from the Atlantic
  • 6 times more calcium than milk
  • 3 times more iron than spinach
  • 2 times more fiber than bran flakes
  • 15 times more magnesium than broccoli
  • 4 times more selenium than linseed

Since the small seeds swell in the stomach, it keeps you satiated for a long time. By swelling they naturally leave the stomach with less space for food. This causes the brain to signal that the stomach is full and we stop eating.

This is exactly the effect that Dr. Bob Arnot takes advantage of in his Aztec diet.

The New York Times bestselling author, doctor and medical journalist has even lost weight himself with the help of chia seeds. This is what led to his book  “The Aztec Diet: Chia Power: The Super food That Gets You Skinny And Keeps You Healthy.” In his book, Arnot promises that his diet is simple to understand and does not require any complicated meal plans or calorie counting. The basis of the diet is that you make lots of smoothies with chia seeds. In addition this (relatively long-term) diet is made up of three phases.

Losing Weight With Chia Seeds: 3 Phases Of The Diet

Phase 1

In the first phases of the diet you drink three chia seed smoothies a day, this is supposed to seriously get your metabolism going. Additionally you are allowed to snack throughout the day. This phase lasts for two weeks. Each smoothie contains two tablespoons of chia seeds. If you start experiencing heartburn or gas, it is recommended that you cut the amount of chia by half a tablespoon each time. The book gives you various different kinds of smoothies to try. Here is an example:

Invigorating blueberry smoothie

Calories: 472

  • 240 ml / 8.1 oz. filtered water
  • 120 ml / 4 oz. fresh apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • ½ ripe banana
  • 225 g / 8 oz. fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 75 g / 2.6 fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons raw walnuts (or cashews)

As a basis for the smoothie you are recommended to use plain yogurt, soy, hemp or almond milk. When it comes to the chia seeds it is crucial they are crushed or finely chopped. This is because when the chia seeds are whole, they do not stay in your digestive tract long enough and therefore only offer very limited help with weight loss.

In addition to the smoothies, you are allowed one snack per day such as 90 g / 3.2 oz. of quinoa, 1 slice of low-fat cheese, 1 apple or 145 g / 5 oz. of cottage cheese.

From a nutritional point of view it is critical that this first phase lasts a full two weeks. Arnot, on the other hand, says you can shorten this phase if it becomes too difficult to sustain. You can then quickly transition into phases 2.

Phase 2

In the second phase, which lasts a full six weeks, a typical day looks like this:

  • Breakfast:
  • Smoothie with 4 tablespoons of chia seeds or smoothie with 2 tablespoons of chia seeds plus water with 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • Lean protein, grains with low glycemic index and vegetables, about 400 calories
  • Dinner:
    • Smoothie with 2 tablespoons of chia seeds

    In addition, Arnot recommends sufficient exercise to supplement his diet. It is also important to eat lunch at lunchtime and not push it back to dinner. This is because eating lunch boosts your metabolism so that more daytime calories are burned. For phase two, the same thing goes: If you can’t make it all the way through, don’t give up! Just switch to phase 3 early.

    Phase 3

    In phase three, you start living like the Aztecs. You are immediately allowed three meals a day again. The third phase is not about losing weight anymore, but about maintaining your weight loss.

    A day at this stage can look like this:

    • Breakfast:
      • Lean protein (Frittata or Chia smoothie)
    • Lunch:
      • Vegetables and lean protein like Asian chicken salad or corn soup.
    • Dinner:
      • Early, light meal such as salmon with kale or quinoa.

    From time to time it is recommended to have a chia seed smoothie instead of a meal. In addition to this, chia seeds are integrated into the diet. This is done by incorporating them into, for example baked goods, cereals, fish or meat. Even jam can be made with chia seeds. Extensive information about the phases of the Aztec diet can be found in Dr. Arnot’s book.

    Losing Weight With Chia Seeds: Conclusion

    The satiating effect of chia seeds can, without a doubt, help with weight loss. After all, these small seeds are completely natural and have an abundance of vitamins. But before eating nothing more than chia seed smoothies for 2 weeks, we recommend you consult you doctor first.

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