Flaxseeds And Weight Loss

  • Amy Murtagh, Postgraduate Degree, Science Communication and Public Engagement, The University of Edinburgh


Flaxseeds are small brown or golden-coloured seeds that have numerous health benefits. Research suggests that incorporating flax seeds into your diet can help with weight loss. This is because flaxseeds have many nutrients and are a good source of fibre, omega-3 fatty acids and protein. There are many ways you can add flaxseeds to your diet, such as sprinkling it over your breakfast, adding it to baked goods, or simply adding it to drinking water.1

Nutrients of flaxseeds

There are 3 main bioactive compounds found in flaxseeds, and these are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), fibre and lignans. ALA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in plants. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are involved in the performance of many functions in your body. They are extremely important for your health, and as our bodies cannot produce the required amount we need to survive, it is important to obtain omega-3 fatty acids through the food we eat.1 

One tablespoon of ground flax seeds also contains:

  • Protein – 1.3g
  • Fibre – 1.9g
  • Carbohydrates – 2g
  • Total fat – 3g
  • Sodium – 2.1mg
  • Potassium – 56.9mg
  • Iron – 2% of the RDI
  • Calcium – 1% of the RDI
  • Magnesium – 6% of the RDI
  • Calories – 37kcal

Benefits of flaxseeds in weight loss

Flaxseeds contain several nutrients and food components that can help to promote healthy weight loss and prevent other diseases.

Dietary fibre

The high fibre content of flaxseeds means that it can be beneficial for weight loss. This is because fibre can help you feel fuller quickly, meaning you will feel the need to eat less and have a lower daily intake of calories. As flaxseeds can effectively help to suppress your appetite, they can also prevent you from binge eating which can help reduce body weight. 

Fibre works by delaying gastric emptying, which creates the feeling of fullness and causes you to absorb of a lot of water. In one study, it was found that overweight adults who were given a fibre complex called PGX for 12 weeks saw a decrease in BMI, body weight and number of meals/snacks eaten per day.2


Lignan is a complex polymer that is found in large amounts in plants like flax seed. There is some evidence that suggests that lignans can aid in reducing body weight through many different mechanisms, including suppressing adipose tissues and improving the function of cells that burn fat.3

Omega-3 fatty acids

Flax seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and have a particularly high content of ALA (a type of omega-3 fatty acid). ALA, like dietary fibre, can also suppress appetite and promote the death of fat cells, which can, in turn, contribute to weight loss.1

Omega-3 fatty acids are also important for brain and heart health and can lower the risk of: 

Several studies have also shown that eating flaxseeds can reduce body weight in people with certain conditions, including:

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) - patients were given flaxseed supplements along with their weight loss diet plan, causing a reduction in their BMI and overall weight.4
  • High blood pressure and fatty liver disease - blood pressure and fatty liver grade were reduced after 12 weeks of flaxseed oil consumption, with additional reductions in weight and waist circumference.5

It is important to note that these potential benefits were seen with the addition of a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise. 

When and how to use flaxseeds for weight loss

The best way to eat flaxseeds is in the morning, as this is more advantageous for reducing body weight as the high fibre content can keep you full throughout the day. However, they can be eaten at any time of day, and there are many ways you can add flaxseeds to your diet, including adding them to your salad, breakfast cereal, smoothies, baked goods, and meat dishes or simply adding them to water.

Flaxseeds are also available as oral supplements in the form of pressed flaxseed oil and can be taken according to the package instructions. However, while they have less fibre content than raw flax seeds, they can be a more convenient way for you.8

There are a few different flaxseed recipes to add to your diet to help you lose weight, including:

  • Flaxseed tea (made with boiled water and flaxseed powder with optional tasters such as cinnamon, honey and/or lemon juice)
  • Flaxseed yoghurt (combine flax seeds and yoghurt in a bowl for a healthy snack)
  • Flaxseed drink (made with 3-4 tablespoons of flaxseeds left to sit overnight in water and consumed in the morning on an empty stomach 2-3 times a week for maximum weight loss benefit)
  • Flaxseed smoothie (a healthy way to start the day that can keep you full for hours and help you increase your nutrient intake made with water, flaxseeds and your choice of fruit/vegetables)

Risks and considerations

What are the side effects?

Flaxseeds are considered safe to consume, but some people may experience side effects. These include:

  • Allergic reaction – itchiness, swelling, redness, vomiting or hives
  • Diarrhoea  
  • Constipation
  • Stomach ache and bloating
  • Intestinal obstruction – if taken without water or any liquid, flax seeds can cause a blockage in the intestines (especially dangerous for patients with scleroderma) and can also interfere with the absorption of certain medications and supplements.
  • Gas (flatulence)

It is not recommended for pregnant women to consume flaxseed due to the hormonal changes they can cause.

If you experience any of these side effects, it’s important you consult your primary care doctor and get the help you need.6

How much is enough

Consuming 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseed or 15-30ml of flaxseed oil per day is recommended.6


Overall, eating flaxseeds has tremendous health benefits, ranging from lowering your risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer to helping with weight loss. Flaxseeds are packed with nutrients such as fibre, omega-3 fatty acids and lignans and, like chia seeds, can be easily added to your diet through smoothies, baked goods, or simply added to water or your breakfast. While flaxseeds are a great way to help you lose weight, they should be used in addition to a healthy diet and exercise. Flaxseeds are generally considered safe to consume unless you are pregnant or have a flaxseed allergy, and if you experience any of the side effects mentioned in this article, you should consult your primary care doctor. 


  1. Parikh M, Maddaford TG, Austria JA, Aliani M, Netticadan T, Pierce GN. Dietary flaxseed as a strategy for improving human health. Nutrients [Internet]. 2019 May 25 [cited 2022 Dec 30];11(5):1171. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6567199/
  2. Solah VA, Kerr DA, Hunt WJ, Johnson SK, Boushey CJ, Delp EJ, et al. Effect of fibre supplementation on body weight and composition, frequency of eating and dietary choice in overweight individuals. Nutrients [Internet]. 2017 Feb 16 [cited 2022 Dec 30];9(2):149. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5331580/
  3. Vinardell MP, Mitjans M. Lignins and their derivatives with beneficial effects on human health. Int J Mol Sci [Internet]. 2017 Jun 7 [cited 2022 Dec 30];18(6):1219. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5486042/
  4. Heidari Z, Ghasemi-Tehrani H, Fallahzadeh H, Nadjarzadeh A. The effects of flaxseed on weight loss in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Iranian Journal of Diabetes and Obesity [Internet]. 2019 Jun 10 [cited 2022 Dec 30];11(2):79–86. Available from: https://ijdo.ssu.ac.ir/article-1-483-.pdf
  5. Rezaei S, Sasani MR, Akhlaghi M, Kohanmoo A. Flaxseed oil in the context of a weight loss programme ameliorates fatty liver grade in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a randomised double-blind controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition [Internet]. 2020 May [cited 2022 Dec 30];123(9):994–1002. Available from: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/flaxseed-oil-in-the-context-of-a-weight-loss-program-ameliorates-fatty-liver-grade-in-patients-with-nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease-a-randomized-doubleblind-controlled-trial/2929E806A0013110ECC12CBD551BF048
  6. Flaxseed: supplement, uses, side effects, dosages, interactions, warnings [Internet]. RxList. [cited 2022 Dec 30]. Available from: https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_flaxseed_linseed/drugs-condition.htm
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Suad Mussa

Bachelor of Science – BSc, Biology. Queen Mary University of London

Suad Mussa is a biology graduate with a strong passion for medical writing and educating the public about health and wellbeing.

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