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People generally think that because nuts are very high in energy nutrients, especially fat, they must be adding to weight gain. To understand why there is such a widespread concern, here are some examples of the energy producing nutrients per 100 grams of some nuts and seeds:
- Almonds have 575 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 21 grams of proteins and 49 grams of fat
- Cashews have 553 calories, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of protein and 43 grams of fat
- Walnuts have 653 calories, 13.6 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of proteins and 65 grams of fat
Why are nuts good for weight loss?
Long term studies have shown that frequent nut consumption actually reduces the risk of weight gain and is associated with a slight weight loss. It was shown that people who eat small servings (1oz – 28g) 2-5 times per week do not weigh more than those who don’t consume nuts or eat them less than once per week. (1, 2, 3, 4)
The following are some reasons why nut consumption is so valuable in weight control:
- People who eat nuts excrete more fat and, therefore, more energy.
This means that by eating nuts, the energy your body absorbs is less than what is on the nutrition label or other nutritional information data sources, by the amount of fat that is trapped inside the fibers (up to 15%).
- The high fat content of nuts increases hormones such as cholecystokinin and glucagon like peptide-1 (GLP-1) which increase satiety. (8, 9, 10)
- Nuts improve carbohydrate metabolism. (11, 12, 7)
- Eating nuts frequently leads to dietary compensation. By eating nuts, we eat less of other foods. Therefore, the energy provided from nuts is offset by the reduction in the intake of other foods. (13, 7)
- Due to their high protein and fat content, nuts may increase the energy expenditure when resting, resulting in less fat accumulation in the body.
In other words, protein makes you burn more fat when you are at rest.However, more studies are needed. (14)
- Eating nuts may improve insulin sensitivity, resulting in an increased metabolism of fat. (15, 16)
Another issue with this myth is the misconception that a diet rich in fatty foods is assumed to cause weight gain by accumulating dietary fat as body fat. Studies show, however, that a diet rich in fat and low in carbohydrates shows the best results in weight loss. (17)