Flaxseed For Weight Gain 2022: Does It Really Help You Gain Weight?

Giovanna Rosario

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

flaxseed weight gain

Flax, is a plant cultivated for its seed and one of the oldest crops in the world.  The uses of flaxseed range from managing constipation to being a source of dietary omega-3. It is also packed full of nutrients.

Even though flaxseeds contain mainly fat, they can be part of a healthy diet. Not only can it be used to support weight goals, but can have some health protective effects. Using flaxseed for weight gain is also possible. 

Does Flaxseeds Help You Gain Weight? 

Flaxseeds can add calories to your diet. One tablespoon of ground flaxseeds provides 37 calories, which is not much. You can also consider using flaxseed oil, 1 tablespoon will give you 120 calories. Multiple servings a day are needed if weight gain is desired.

Weight gain relies on making sure you consume a healthy calorie surplus daily. Eating an additional 250-500 calories or kcal daily may help you gain weight, around 0.5-1 pound per week. 

Supplement With Flax

As mentioned before one tablespoon of flax seed contains 37 calories[1], requiring around half a cup of ground flaxseed daily to obtain 250 calories to promote healthy weight gain. An option would be the use of flaxseed oil as a supplement. One tablespoon of cold-pressed flaxseed oil will have 120 calories[2] in essential fats. But, the oil has no fiber in it, so there is a trade-off.

Although not many studies are available backing the benefits of flaxseed oil on health compared to flaxseed whole or ground. Our body converts the omega-3 precursor alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in flaxseeds into the other forms of omega-3 called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

EPA and DHA are the forms of omega-3 that can be consumed in fish and are associated[3] with a decreased risk of heart disease and chronic disease. Flaxseed oil with ALA is still a good way to add calories and omega-3 to your diet. 

Eat Snacks

Snacks are a good way to sneak calories throughout the day without feeling stuffed. Consider small options like cheese sticks, peanut butter with crackers, or a handful of nuts are great calorie-dense additions to your diet. 

If you need something more substantial, ½ cup of greek yogurt with a sprinkle of (roasted) ground flax seeds on top can be taken. A small wrap with nut butter and fruit can also give you a boost. Make a fruit smoothie and add ground flaxseed to it or a teaspoon of EVOO to include some more fatty acids and calories.

Add Calories to Your Meal 

Make sure to include fat with your meals. Consider adding flaxseed oil, olive oil, canola oil, or walnut oil to your salads, vegetables, or during meal preparation. They will be a source of essential fats. 

An option when wanting to gain weight is to increase the size of your meals. Add more protein to your plate, or add a side of avocado to your dish. 

Increase Lean Muscle

If cleared by your doctor, muscle building can also be a great way to gain weight. Doing strength exercises[4] two or more times a week might help you increase your weight. 

The Nutritional Content of Flaxseed

Flaxseed contains a good variety of nutrients like protein, fiber, fatty acids, and minerals. 

One tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains

  • 37 Calories
  • 1.3 grams of protein
  • 3 grams of fat
  • 1.9 grams of fiber
  • 2 grams of carbs

 It is important to note that flaxseed, although a source of protein, does not contain all essential amino acids. Flaxseed is only a small contributor of minerals like calcium, iron, selenium, magnesium, and vitamins like folate, niacin, and biotin. 

Seeds like chia, rapeseed (canola), hemp, walnut, and soy are sources of alpha-linolenic acid, which is an essential fatty acid. A tablespoon of ground flaxseeds contains 1.8 grams of polyunsaturated fat and 1.4g  in the form of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acids.  Flaxseeds are a good vegan source of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Raw flax seeds are a source of cyanide and should not be consumed. Only roasted or fully cooked flax seeds should be eaten. Cold-pressing uses special techniques to rid the oil of its cyanide.

Health Benefits Of Flaxseeds

Heart Disease

Some components of flax seed have been associated with protecting the heart against disease.

Flaxseeds contain lignan, a dietary polyphenol, which is digested by bacteria in your gut to help absorption. Lignan, as a bioactive compound, has attributed benefits of anti-inflammatory, anticancer[5], antiviral, and immunomodulating.

The flax lignan complex and secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG) can also reduce the progression of hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in arteries). 

Flaxseed supplementation has been associated[6] with decreased C-reactive protein, which is an inflammatory marker in the blood, in obese individuals.  

Blood Pressure

A meta-analysis[7] suggested that consumption of whole flaxseed for over 12 weeks may decrease blood pressure slightly. 

Decrease Cholesterol 

Consuming flax may help manage high cholesterol. In a 2020 paper[8], they described how people with high cholesterol levels’ consumption of flaxseed showed a decrease in total cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol), and triglycerides. 

Digestive Health

Flax is a source of fiber that will assist in keeping a healthy digestive system. One tablespoon of whole flax seeds contains 2.3 grams of fiber, that’s around 11% of your daily value (DV). 

Eating high-fiber foods in conjunction with adequate fluids will help with constipation.  There’s no evidence of an effect on gut bacteria. 

A study[9] with people under hemodialysis treatment for kidney failure showed the potential for constipation treatment with flaxseed oil. 

Blood Glucose 

Flax seeds may also be helpful with the management of blood sugar levels. In an article in Nutrition Reviews[10], consumption of whole flaxseeds has the potential to significantly decrease blood glucose levels, hemoglobin A1C, and insulin resistance. This could be due to flax’s soluble fiber content, which can slow down glucose absorption in the gut.  

Weight Loss

In an article[11] decreased weight, and waist circumference in overweight and obese individuals was seen with supplementation of flaxseed in the amounts of 30 grams per day for over 12 weeks. This shows the potential of flaxseed to aid in weight loss.

Other Benefits

Including flax in your diet include may help reduce inflammation and keep a healthy immune system.  

Precautions: Do not use if pregnant. Discuss with your doctor or registered dietitian if 

Avoid consuming raw flaxseed. It contains toxins[12] that can be eliminated by processing like applying heat. Consider roasted. 

How to Add Flaxseeds to Your Diet 

Whole Seeds

flaxseed weight gain

Whole flax seeds can be added to drinks like juice or smoothies. If left standing for too long it might gel your drink. You can consume flaxseed on your own, by adding a tablespoon to warm water and drinking. This might be helpful with constipation.

They can also add some crunch to your yogurt and salads. Top your fruit salads with this seed for some added fiber. If you feel adventurous mix it into a chia pudding or regular pudding. 

Ground

flaxseed weight gain

For a boost in healthful essential fatty acids add ground flax to your drinks and smoothies. 

Similar to this include them in your drinks and smoothies. When added to liquid expect it to have a gelatinizing effect over time.

In this ground form you may extract the components of it, and better absorb the calories from them along with the essential fatty acids. 

Whenever possible grind flaxseeds at home with a coffee grinder. Flaxseeds have oil that may become rancid with time. When flax is ground, store in an airtight container and freeze. 

Baking

flaxseed weight gain

Include flaxseeds in your whole grain muffins, cookies, or to top your homemade bread. You can also include them with other seeds and nuts in your bread to add flavor and nutrients.

In recipes, ground flaxseeds can be used to substitute for[3] butter, oil, or egg in baked goods. It might affect the taste of the product, but can be used as an alternative to veganize recipes. 

To replace 1 tablespoon of oil or melted butter: Mix three tablespoons of ground flaxseed with one tablespoon of water.

To replace 1 egg[13]: Mix 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed with one tablespoon of warm water. Let rest until it has the gelatinous consistency of eggs or at least five minutes.

Note: Be sensitive when adding flax to your diet. If you are taking another omega-3 supplement and start adding flaxseed or flaxseed oil, it might cause gastrointestinal symptoms like loose stool, gas, and bloating. 

Conclusion

The flax plant is one of the oldest crops in the world. Flax seeds have components that have been used to help people lose weight, aid in digestion, and protect from disease. It can also be another tool to add calories to your diet to help with weight gain. It can also boost your omega-3 fatty acid intake along with fiber. 

So to answer the question: will flaxseed make you gain weight? If used sparingly, probably not. But if it’s part of a targeted plan for weight gain, it might be a sensible addition.


+ 13 sources

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  1. Usda.gov. (2022). FoodData Central. [online] Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169414/nutrients
  2. Usda.gov. (2022). FoodData Central. [online] Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167702/nutrients
  3. Eatright.org. (2022). What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids. [online] Available at: https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/what-are-omega-3-fatty-acids
  4. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Summary. (n.d.). [online] Available at: https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-10/PAG_ExecutiveSummary.pdf.
  5. Prasad, K. (2009). Flaxseed and Cardiovascular Health. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, [online] 54(5), pp.369–377. doi:10.1097/fjc.0b013e3181af04e5.
  6. Ren, G.-Y., Chen, C.-Y., Chen, G.-C., Chen, W.-G., Pan, A., Pan, C.-W., Zhang, Y.-H., Qin, L.-Q. and Chen, L.-H. (2016). Effect of Flaxseed Intervention on Inflammatory Marker C-Reactive Protein: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients, [online] 8(3), p.136. doi:10.3390/nu8030136.
  7. Ursoniu, S., Sahebkar, A., Andrica, F., Serban, C. and Banach, M. (2016). Effects of flaxseed supplements on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled clinical trial. Clinical Nutrition, [online] 35(3), pp.615–625. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2015.05.012.
  8. Hadi, A., Askarpour, M., Salamat, S., Ghaedi, E., Symonds, M.E. and Miraghajani, M. (2020). Effect of flaxseed supplementation on lipid profile: An updated systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of sixty-two randomized controlled trials. Pharmacological Research, [online] 152, p.104622. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2019.104622.
  9. Ramos, C.I., Andrade de Lima, A.F., Grilli, D.G. and Cuppari, L. (2015). The Short-Term Effects of Olive Oil and Flaxseed Oil for the Treatment of Constipation in Hemodialysis Patients. Journal of Renal Nutrition, [online] 25(1), pp.50–56. doi:10.1053/j.jrn.2014.07.009.
  10. Mohammadi-Sartang, M., Sohrabi, Z., Barati-Boldaji, R., Raeisi-Dehkordi, H. and Mazloom, Z. (2017). Flaxseed supplementation on glucose control and insulin sensitivity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 25 randomized, placebo-controlled trials. Nutrition Reviews, [online] 76(2), pp.125–139. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nux052.
  11. Mohammadi-Sartang, M., Mazloom, Z., Raeisi-Dehkordi, H., Barati-Boldaji, R., Bellissimo, N. and Totosy de Zepetnek, J.O. (2017). The effect of flaxseed supplementation on body weight and body composition: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 45 randomized placebo-controlled trials. Obesity Reviews, [online] 18(9), pp.1096–1107. doi:10.1111/obr.12550.
  12. Dzuvor, C., Taylor, J., Acquah, C., Pan, S. and Agyei, D. (2018). Bioprocessing of Functional Ingredients from Flaxseed. Molecules, [online] 23(10), p.2444. doi:10.3390/molecules23102444.
  13. Eatright.org. (2022). Egg Alternatives. [online] Available at: https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/vegetarian-and-special-diets/egg-alternatives
Giovanna Rosario

Written by:

Giovanna Rosario, RD

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

She's currently working as a Registered Dietitian who enjoys promoting healthy lifestyles to be able to thrive in old age. She has worked dietitian-nutritionist in different settings helping adults manage chronic disease through dietary approaches, achieve healthful weight, and replenish nutrient deficiencies. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetic Sciences, alongside a Master’s degree in Creative Writing.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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