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TikTok Debunked: Does 'chia seed water' help you lose weight? An expert explains

The TikTok search "chia seeds for weight loss" has received over 200 million views — and counting.

Welcome to TikTok Debunked, a new series where Yahoo Canada digs into the truth behind popular TikTok health, beauty and food trends.

Chia seeds in a glass bowl with a spoon. Wooden board as a background. Healthy food concept, superfood, dietary TikTok supplements.
TikToker users have been posting videos about how chia seeds are linked to weight loss and digestion. (Photo via Getty Images)

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

Chia seeds may be small, but they're packed with nutrients that promote heart, brain and bone health.

The superfood is known for its versatility, and has been TikTok's latest food obsession for its alleged ability to help you lose weight.

However, one TikToker went viral for claiming that raw chia seeds caused her extreme digestive upset.

So, Yahoo Canada wondered — do chia seeds really help you lose weight, and do they cause stomach issues?

Read on for everything you need to know about chia seeds, backed up by an expert.

The claim — and how it started

  • Last month, TikTok user Jade Amber (@jade.amberrrrr) claimed her digestive issues were caused by eating two tablespoons of raw chia seeds per day.

  • Amber posted a clip saying that she put the raw seeds in yoghurt or on rice cakes to increase her fibre intake and help her lose weight. The video received over 5.4 million views and 722,000 likes. Many users commented that they experienced the same thing after eating raw chia seeds.

  • Amber posted the video to tell others that it's supposedly better to soak the seeds before consuming. She claimed that the raw seeds expanded in her stomach, which resulted in terrible bloating.

Context

  • For context, "chia seed water" has been floating around the app for some time. The search "chia seeds for weight loss" has received over 200 million views with thousands of videos posted from doctors, nutritionists and wellness influencers.

  • Last month TikTok user @mandanazarghami posted a video that showed fans how to exactly make the drink. The video received over 1.8 million views and over 159,000 likes.

  • @mandanazarghami claimed that drinking a full glass of chia seed water (made from one cup of water, two tablespoons of chia seeds and a splash of lemon juice) can optimize gut health, help you debloat, and help you lose weight.

What TikTok users are saying

In both @mandanazarghami and @jade.amberrrrr's videos, TikTok users took to the comments with their ideas and opinions about the trends.

In Amber's video, people were shocked that the seeds allegedly caused digestive upset.

"Maybe that's why I've been having stomach problems," wrote a TikTok user.

"What! I didn't know this either! But it kind of makes sense," another person added.

"I'm a nutritionist and eating them raw is fine, it's probably more likely that you're consuming too much fibre and in turn your stomach bloats," clarified another.

In @mandanazarghami's clip, users were quick to discuss the health and weight loss benefits of chia seeds.

"I lost so much doing this the beginning of my weight loss journey back in 2020," wrote a TikTok user.

"They also help you stay full longer due to them expanding so much," added someone else.

"I've heard that chia seeds are super healthy and great for your gut! Totally trying this!," said another.

Chia seeds in wooden bowl
Chia seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids, which have cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits. (Photo via Getty Images)

An expert weighs in

To get an expert's opinion, Yahoo Canada spoke to Registered Dietitian Nicole Osinga.

When asked about the "chia seed water" trend, the dietitian thought it was a great way for people to consume more fibre. However, she was on the fence about calling it a weight loss hack.

"I think it's great because chia seeds provide so many benefits and most people don't get enough fibre, which chia seeds are full of," Osinga explained. "I just don't like that it's being framed as something for weight loss, because that's not a guarantee."

However, Osinga explained that this drink could cause some people to lose weight due to chia seeds' ability to keep you fuller for longer. But this doesn't mean it will work for everyone.

"Both fibre and fat take a long time for the body to break down, resulting in satiety," she said.

Additionally, Osinga explained that chia seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids, which have cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits that promote good digestion.

Pain, stomach, endometriosis, women's health
Eating too many chia seeds could cause bloating and digestive upset. (Photo via Getty Images)

On the flip side, eating too many chia seeds could cause bloating, like TikToker Amber experienced. While Osinga said it's safe to eat raw chia seeds, you may want to start with smaller amounts or by soaking them first.

"Adding a lot into your diet may cause bloating because your body isn't used to that amount of fibre... and could potentially cause digestive upset," content creator Osinga said.

"They are more palatable if you soak them first, but you don't always have to do that."

Is it debunked?

In summary, Osinga thinks chia seeds are a great addition to your diet, as long as you listen to how your body processes the food.

But while TikTok users claim "chia seed water" guarantees weight loss, Osinga said what works for some, might not be true for others.

With this in mind, Yahoo Canada has partially debunked this trend.

However, consuming the drink can still have multiple health benefits, even if weight loss isn't one of them.

When it comes to the danger of eating raw chia seeds, this claim is indeed debunked. Osinga said it's very safe to eat them raw, but when consumed in high amounts, she agreed they can cause bloating.

Let us know what you think by commenting below and tweeting @YahooStyleCA! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram.