Nuts As an Effective Weight Loss Aid

Many people avoid nuts, thinking they are “too fattening”. Americans, on average, eat less than half an ounce of nuts and nut butters daily. An ounce of nuts or seeds has between 150 and 200 calories.

nut dietHowever, despite nuts being high in fat and calories (With the exception of chestnuts, nuts contain a lot of calories—160 to 200 an ounce), new research indicates that nuts can also aid in weight loss.

Nuts are also cholesterol-free and they provide good sources of protein, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E and selenium.

In small portions, nuts can be a healthful food choice.

Similarly, for people who don’t eat meat or want to consume less, nuts are one of the best plant sources of protein.

As long as you control total calories, eating a handful of nuts daily may help prevent weight gain and possibly promote weight loss. The fat, protein and fiber in nuts help you feel full longer, so you may eat less during the day.

Of all the nuts, peanuts provide the most complete protein. By helping induce a feeling of satiety, nuts may help people feel less deprived and not like they’re “dieting.” Drink two glasses of water and eat an ounce of nuts (6 walnuts, 12 almonds or 20 peanuts). Within 20 minutes, this can extinguish your craving and dampen your appetite

Scientific research & studies

Researchers have found that about three times as many people trying to lose weight were able to stick to a Mediterranean-style moderate-fat weight loss diet that included nuts, peanuts and peanut butter versus the traditionally recommended low-fat diet. (International Journal of Obesity, Oct. 5, 2001).

A landmark study published in the Dec. 1999 issue of the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that diets high in monounsaturated fat from foods like peanuts, peanut butter, peanut oil and olive oil are superior to low-fat diets for heart health.

International Journal of ObesitySimilarly, researchers at Purdue University have found that adding almonds to a calorie-controlled weight loss program can assist in weight loss.

In this study, women who added 344 calories worth of almonds a day to their diets—without purposefully cutting back on calories elsewhere or exercising more—did not gain weight after 10 weeks.

The International Journal of Obesity recently published a study citing that people on an almond-rich diet lost more weight than those on a high carbohydrate diet of comparable daily calorie quotas. These people also lost substantially more inches in the waist than the people eating a high-carb diet.

Also, a Spanish study of nearly 9,000 people, reported in Obesity last year, found that those who ate nuts at least twice a week were less likely to gain weight over 28 months than those who never or rarely ate nuts.

How do nuts help in weight loss

The exact mechanism is still unclear, but researchers think that the fat content in nuts may promote satiety. The fiber and protein in nuts help make you feel full longer, so you are less hungry—and presumably eat less—later.

Some studies even suggest that nuts may slightly increase calorie burning. Interestingly, some research has also found that not all the fat in whole nuts is absorbed—from 4% to 17% passes out of the body undigested.

Recommended quantity

Nuts and seeds have 12 to 22 grams of fat in an ounce (but most of this is unsaturated fat), and they contain no cholesterol.

Though nuts are healthful and may help you control your weight, don’t go overboard—limit yourself to an ounce or two a day. One small handful is about an ounce.

The FDA recommendation, however, suggests up to 1.5 ounces of nuts daily or one and a half times a “handful.”