Is Flaxseed Good For Bodybuilding? A Dietitian Answers

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Below, I’ll cover everything you need to know about flaxseeds and bodybuilding, including tips for how to add them to your diet.  

Key Takeaways

  • Flaxseeds are great for bodybuilding because they are rich in fiber that supports gut health and digestion, and antioxidants (including omega-3), which can limit inflammation and support muscle recovery.
  • Flaxseeds are energy-dense, with a single teaspoon (10 grams) providing 55 calories. This makes them a fantastic addition to your diet while bulking, making it easier to eat enough calories for healthy weight gain.
  • Measure the exact serving for nutritional accuracy, grind flaxseeds (if possible) shortly before consumption to improve nutrient absorption, and add flaxseeds to protein shakes and smoothies for extra calories and nutrients.

Flaxseed: Overview

nutritional content 100 grams of flaxseeds


Flaxseeds are a very energy-dense food, meaning they have a lot of calories per serving. 

One tablespoon of flaxseeds (10 grams) has around 55 calories. Although it might not seem like a lot, it’s the same as a small apple.

(The difference is that an apple is much larger and more satiating.)

One benefit of high calorie flaxseeds is that it helps bodybuilders reach their daily caloric intake in a bulking phase. 

However, since they are very energy-dense, you must carefully control the portion size. 

It might be tempting to scoop the flaxseeds and add them to your protein shake or salad, but that may add more calories than you need if you’re not careful.  


Flaxseeds have all three macronutrients (protein, carb, and fat), but most calories come from fats.

Most of the fats in flaxseeds are unsaturated––the type good for cardiovascular health

While flaxseeds contain some carbs, they are mainly fiber, which you don’t absorb or metabolize for energy.  

One tablespoon of flaxseeds provides 11% of the recommended daily value for fiber

Fiber fights constipation, supports gut health, and promotes fullness. 

Here’s some additional insight from registered dietitian Rachael Ajmera:

“What’s more, flaxseed contains two types of fiber — soluble and insoluble — which get fermented by the bacteria in your intestines to support gut health and improve bowel regularity.”


Flaxseed is a very nutrient-dense food. It has numerous vitamins and minerals that are essential for a bodybuilder. Here are the top nutrients (from the most to the least) and how they benefit a bodybuilder:

  • Manganese (13% of daily needs per tablespoon). It is a potent antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation in the body. It also plays a role in converting the food you eat into energy that the body can use.
  • Thiamin (11% of daily needs). It is essential for the metabolism of carbs. This means that once you eat high-carb food, it is one of the many vitamins responsible for processing and using it as energy in the body.
  • Copper (6% of daily needs). Along with iron, it helps form red blood cells. They are important to help carry the oxygen and nutrients around the body, especially to muscle cells for them to grow. 

Pros Of Eating Flaxseed

pros of eating flaxseed

Reduces Inflammation

Flaxseeds have two components that help reduce inflammation: omega-3 and antioxidants.

You might be wondering how that helps you as a bodybuilder. 

After training, there is a slight increase in muscle inflammation. 

When this inflammation is reduced, muscles may recover better, allowing a better environment for growth.  

Good For Bulking

Since flaxseeds are energy-dense, you can add them to your diet to reach your daily calorie targets more easily while bulking.

Adding flaxseeds to water, salads, smoothies, oatmeal, or protein shakes is a good way of increasing calories without eating as much food or feeling stuffed. 

High in Omega-3

Besides having anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3 has some huge benefits for a bodybuilder. 

Omega-3 fatty acids seem to have a direct relationship with protein synthesis

This is important because protein synthesis is responsible for converting the protein you eat into usable material for muscle recovery and growth.

Cons of Eating Flaxseed

cons of eating flaxseed

Might Produce Gastric Problems

Due to its high fiber content, it might cause stomach problems in some people. 

Bloating is the most common symptom I usually get when my clients add flaxseeds. 

Although it might not be the case for everyone, if that is the case with you, try to avoid consuming flaxseeds anywhere near your training sessions. 

You May Need to Grind Them

Whole flaxseeds may pass through the digestive tract undigested, preventing your body from absorbing the helpful nutrients found inside.

Because of that, it might be best to grind them (for example, you can use a coffee grinder) to improve digestion and nutrient absorption.

An additional benefit is that grinding them can reduce the risk of stomach issues.

Can You Eat Flaxseed Before Workouts?

Flaxseeds are not the best option as a pre-workout snack because they lack the carbs you need to fuel your sessions.

Since most of the carbs in flaxseed are fiber, you won’t get much usable energy and might even experience some bloating.

It’s best to aim for one gram of simple carbs per kilogram of body weight to optimize your performance and minimize the burden on your digestive system.

Good pre-workout carbs include ripe bananas, white bread, and rice cakes.

Can You Eat Flaxseed After Workouts?

Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, flaxseeds are a good food option after training. They help limit inflammation, which can support muscle recovery. 

Flax alone won’t suffice, though. 

You’ll also need to add a carb source (at least 0.3 grams per kilogram) to help replenish the energy lost and a protein source (0.3 to 0.5 grams per kilogram) to help with muscle building.

Some carb sources to eat alongside flaxseeds include fruits, oatmeal, rice, potatoes, and bread. Protein-rich foods to eat after training include meat, fish, eggs, and cottage cheese.

Is Flaxseed Good For Muscle Growth?

Flaxseeds are good for muscle growth since they are energy-dense, making it easier to create the necessary calorie surplus for controlled weight gain. 

However, flaxseeds lack protein, so it is essential to eat enough protein-rich foods each day to get the recommended 0.7-0.8 grams per pound of body weight for bodybuilders.

Does Ground or Whole Flax Matter?

Whole flaxseeds have a tough shell, which makes them more difficult to digest. This means that you might not get all the nutrients. 

On the other hand, ground flaxseeds are easier to digest, and the nutrients are readily available.

So, although they are both great options, it may be better to have ground flaxseeds rather than whole.

Just make sure to grind them shortly before consumption, as they may oxidize faster, causing some of the fats to lose their properties. 

Here is some insight from registered dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick:

“The key reasons for this oxidation are light and oxygen. Once the flaxseeds are ground, they are subject to both these elements and the process begins. If you purchase pre-ground flaxseeds, there is no telling how long and to what degree your flaxseeds have been exposed to the elements, meaning it’s hard to predict the real fatty acid content of the seeds.”

Does Consuming the Seed or Oil Matter?

Flaxseeds are the natural form, which is where you find the fiber and nutrients. On the other hand, flaxseed oil consists primarily of fats.

It depends on what benefits you want to reap. 

For example, oil lacks fiber, so it’s not ideal if you’re looking for something to help you fight constipation.

On the other hand, if you want to add it to your salads and increase omega-3, the oil might be the way to go. 

Tips For Incorporating Flaxseed Into A Bodybuilding Diet

tips for incorporating flaxseed into a bodybuilding diet

Measure the Portion Size

Since flaxseeds are very energy-dense, you might increase your daily calories without realizing it. 

So, measure the portion size when adding flaxseeds to a meal or snack. 

Sprinkle It On Your Salad

A way of adding flaxseeds to your diet is by sprinkling them on your salad or veggies. 

You can  roast them and enjoy a slightly different flavor, as well as a crunchy texture. 

Add It To Your Protein Shake or Smoothie

Another way of increasing your flaxseed intake is by adding it to your protein shake or smoothie. 

That way, you can get all three macronutrients in one meal that is easy to carry around. 

Breadcrumb Substitute

One of my favorite ways of adding flaxseeds is as a substitute for breadcrumbs, such as when breading. 

This will be healthier than traditional breading since it is higher in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. 

Add It To Your Water

Finally, the other option I sometimes use is adding it to my water. 

When I crave something sweet, I mix some sugar-free syrup and flaxseeds with water to enjoy a delicious and nutrient-rich drink.

Other Seeds For Bodybuilding


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About The Author

Brenda Peralta

Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist.  In addition to being an author for, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.

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