Both flaxseed oil and ground flaxseed can help with weight loss in ways that most people wouldn’t expect and it has nothing to do with dieting.
Ahead is a look at how flax can help suppress appetite, improve metabolism, regulate blood sugar and insulin, enhance digestion and increase thermogenic fat burning.
Diets Don’t Work
The most important thing to remember when you want to lose weight is do not diet. It simply does not work.
In fact, it’s badder than that. When you significantly reduce the amount of food you eat on a diet you are telling your body there will be a period of restriction and training it to conserve energy and store fat.
It gets worse. Even after you come out of a diet, you’ve taught your body to become more efficient at storing fat.
Very few people actually lose much real body fat on a diet that starves them. Instead, any weight lost is primarily water loss and some muscle wastage. And invariably they end up putting it back on and weighing even more several months later.
Weight Loss and Omega-3
Flaxseed oil is over 50% omega-3 alpha linolenic acid. That’s a fat, but in contrast to the misinformation most of us have been fed about weight loss, healthy fats like omega-3s help us lose weight, not gain it. In fact, it would actually be far more difficult to lose weight without a good intake of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
The alpha linolenic acid in flaxseed oil is an essential fatty acid (EFA). Your body needs it to function correctly but cannot make it itself. You have to get it from your diet and most experts seem to think we’re not getting nearly enough of it.
Omega-6 fats like linoleic acid are also considered essential, but modern Western diets are generally very high in omega-6. In fact, it’s quite likely we are getting far too much of them.
The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is said to be at least one to five, preferably even one to two. The average American is estimated to be consuming a ratio of around 1 to 20 in favor of omega-6 fats.
This dramatic imbalance in our intake of the essential fatty acids, that are involved in so many vital processes at a cellular level within our body, is theorized to be a major factor in a variety of health issues and diseases. Inflammation conditions such as cardiovascular problems, arthritis, asthma and skin diseases are commonly discussed, but some also believe they may play a role in the current epidemic of obesity.
Flaxseed Oil and Fat Storage
The EFAs in flaxseed meal and flaxseed oil are essential nutrients. Our body needs them and will actually stimulate more hunger when it doesn’t have enough of them. Unfortunately, most of us are not very good at recognizing hunger after we have already eaten as a request by the body for nutrients, rather than more empty carbohydrates.
Simply getting a higher level of nutrition in your meals, by eating foods that are rich in important nutrients like superfoods, will often result in weight loss for many people.
Having ground flaxseed in a meal or taking flax oil when you eat usually increases satiety – that feeling of satisfied fullness after eating. But its benefits for weight loss don’t stop there. Flaxseed oil and especially the ground meal slows down the digestion of a meal, leading to a gentler rise in blood sugar and therefore insulin.
Insulin is the hormone responsible for, amongst many other things, fat storage. When we have a high carb meal with no fiber or essential fatty acids to slow down its digestion, our blood sugar can spike dramatically.
This stimulates fat-storing insulin to correct the blood sugar rise. Not only do you feel tired and lethargic as insulin goes to work, it is also converting the excess carbohydrates in a heavy meal to triglycerides and shuttling them away to the fatty adipose tissue around your hips, waist and belly.
While too much saturated fat and any hydrogenated or manufactured trans fat is unhealthy, with the abundance of simple carbohydrates in most Western diets, it is these that are just as, if not more likely, to be responsible for weight gain than dietary fat alone.
Healthy fats, like those found in flaxseed oil, actually help counteract this process. So don’t avoid all fats if you want to lose weight. Just choose healthier ones and cut right back on the processed carbohydrates that flood your body with fat-storing insulin.
Getting to your ideal weight isn’t about counting calories or excessive exercising. It’s not about eating less and you shouldn’t be constantly hungry. It can actually be as simple as eating the right foods at the right times to ramp up your metabolism for a more effective kind of weight loss.
Flaxseed Oil, Metabolism and Fat Burning
Taking flaxseed oil regularly is believed to improve metabolism and increase thermogenesis (fat-burning). Thermogenesis is a very beneficial process for weight loss wherein specialized brown fat cells increase their fat-burning capabilities. Ironically, one of the best ways to stimulate thermogenesis is by eating more essential fats, like those found in flax.
Given this, it would be beneficial to take the oil or ground flaxseed meal with each main meal of the day if you are trying to lose weight. The page on where to find the best flaxseed oil has some of the best organic and cold pressed oils or cold milled flaxseed options I’ve found.
Ground Flaxseed or Flaxseed Oil for Weight Loss?
Flaxseed oil is very beneficial for losing weight for all of the reasons detailed above. Ground flaxseeds however are a great source of dietary fiber which would help improve digestion and slow blood sugar, and therefore insulin release, even more than flax oil.
While they wouldn’t provide as much essential omega-3 fatty acids, cold milled flax seeds are also an exceptional source of anti-estrogenic lignans that are very important for women as they may reduce the risk of common hormonal cancers.
A good compromise would be a high lignan flaxseed oil with added flaxseed particles, that is still very rich in omega-3 alpha linolenic acid. Ideally though, if you’re serious about weight loss, you could take both flax oil and freshly ground flaxseeds daily and get the best of both worlds.