Despite being high in fat and calories, nuts are incredibly healthy. Eating nuts regularly as part of a healthy diet is not associated with weight gain and may even help you lose weight. While they have a bad reputation for being high in calories, these powerful nutritional sources could be dieters best friends, as long as you don't overdo it. Nuts are often grouped into the “bad food” category, especially for those who are worried about weight gain.
Since nuts are high in fat and calorie-dense, it makes sense. After all, adding nuts to your diet when you're trying to lose weight, isn't that counterproductive? The simple answer is no, nuts actually help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, says Richard D. Mattes, M, P, H. So, while eating nuts won't help you lose weight, they add protein, fiber, nutrients, and satiating healthy fats to your diet, which is helpful if you're trying to restrict your intake throughout the day.
But numbers don't always tell the full story, as is the case here. That's because no matter which nut you choose, each one has unique properties that help negate these effects. For starters, you don't absorb all the energy (also known as calories) from walnuts. Unused calories come out through the stool.
Take a look at data from the Agricultural Research Service in which researchers examined how many of the calories in walnuts, almonds and pistachios the body uses compared to how much these nuts actually contain. Overall, the body consumed fewer calories than were actually in nuts. For pistachios, calorie intake was 22.6 calories per gram versus 23.7 calories per gram, the generally accepted amount of calories in pistachios. So in that ounce of pistachios, your body would only consume 153.8 of the 161.9 calories available.
And in an ounce of walnuts, 146 of the 185 calories were available to the body, while in almonds, the difference was 129 calories versus approximately 170 calories. What else should you love about walnuts? “Although this is less established, nuts can increase energy expenditure at rest, which would also help offset calories,” Mattes says. All of this means that nuts can be a dieter's best friend, and there are numerous studies that show that nuts can help prevent weight gain. For example, according to a study by BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, increasing consumption of nuts in one serving per day was significantly associated with lower weight gain and lower risk of obesity over a four-year period, even more so when study participants switched a serving of any type of nut for less healthy foods such as chips, desserts, red or processed meat or chips.
Please note that this does not apply to nut butter. In other words, your body will absorb all the calories from that nut butter. Weight Management Isn't the Only Reason Nuts Deserve a Place in Your Plant-Based Diet. Li, MD.
That can lower blood cholesterol and has even been shown to activate fat burning processes in the body. Eating nuts is a great way to increase your intake of antioxidants. Of the trees, walnuts, pecans and chestnuts have the highest antioxidant content. Walnuts contain more than 20 mmol of antioxidants per 100 g, mainly in walnut films, study on health benefits of nuts explains.
Antioxidants protect body cells from damage caused by free radicals, which cause oxidative stress. The key to eating nuts is to practice moderation. They may be good for you, but those calories and fats can build up. Usually, around an ounce or one and a half ounces a day is the sweet spot, Mattes says.
Just make sure you choose plain walnuts. Many are fried or sugar-coated, or contain added preservatives. For more information about nuts, see the 11 nuts that contain the most protein. Eating too many total calories on a regular basis will lead to weight gain, no matter where the calories come from.
Nuts eaten in moderation are no problem, but keep in mind that they are a high-calorie food. Avoid eating them out of the container, as it's easy to lose track of how much you've eaten. A cup of mixed nuts contains more than 800 calories, so you don't want to eat them endlessly. Stick to a standard 1-ounce serving, which is about a handful.
A serving of roasted and mixed nuts contains 172 calories and approximately 15 grams of fat. With the exception of Brazil nuts and macadamias, walnuts also contain flavonoids, phytochemicals that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. For weight gain, regular weight training helps convert those extra calories into healthy muscles instead of fat. Unfortunately, this fact comes with some fiction, there is a belief that high-calorie nuts should be avoided because they will cause weight gain.
We see a similar pattern in clinical studies that asked people to include nuts in their diets and then looked at the effects on body weight. The authors of the review note that it may be due to the satiety factor (because nuts ward off hunger), as well as your body's inability to fully metabolize nuts and extract all calories. If you avoid eating nuts because you fear they will make you gain weight, consider reconsidering your diet decision. As long as you keep your total fat intake between 20 and 30 percent of your total calories, you don't need to worry that the fats in nuts will interfere with your weight management goals.
Interestingly, previous studies also show that nuts can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering body weight, but there is still a perception that nuts cause weight gain. The findings showed that nut intake was not associated with weight gain and is even associated with some decreased measures of adiposity. Yasmine Probst receives funding from the New South Wales Ministry of Health, Australian Eggs, Nuts for Life, Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute and the University of Wollongong Health Impacts Research Group. Eating a handful of nuts every day has been shown to improve the way the body uses insulin, improve blood vessel function, and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood and blood pressure.