How you wish to gobble up those crunchy nuts! But, since you are on a weight loss program, you cannot even think of touching those fat-ridden, yummy bites, right?
Hey, wake up guys! It’s time to do some more prodding on nuts. Whatever people may say, science has something different to tell you. You’d find it hard to change, at first, since you’ve been conditioned to believe that nuts make you fat and you stay away from them. But, clinical studies on these nutrient powerhouses of nature suggest the opposite. In fact, they recommend eating nuts while on a weight loss program.
Some of you might find it absurd to believe these reports. Your old belief tells you that, nuts are laden with calories, and logic says that eating more calories than you burn makes you gain weight. Well, forget your logic this time! We cannot always explain nature with our logic. The natural laws are full of surprises, and each day there is a new discovery. Something similar has happened with nuts as well.
Till now, we were groping in the dark about this food. But, over the last decade, scientists conducting various trials with nuts have been shaken up so rigorously by nature’s wonder, that they have finally shed their age-old belief that nuts are fattening.
Nuts Will Make You Thin
Nuts have long been known for their satiety inducing effects. In 1992, Fraser and his group were the first to assess the protective effects of nuts on the human heart. The result of their study was inexplicable. There was no connection between obesity and nut consumption. According to their report, “the higher nut consumers in this population were less obese”.
After Fraser spread the stirring news that nuts do not promote weight gain, numerous studies have confirmed that people who eat nuts daily have a lower BMI than those who don’t. And this happens with no other changes in the diet and lifestyle of the nut eaters.
For instance, in one clinical trial, healthy adults were given almonds to satisfy 15% of their daily energy needs. The participants were allowed to continue their normal lifestyle without any changes in diet and exercise. Scientists expected that, after 6 months, the extra energy from almonds would increase the participants weight by 14 pounds. However, results surprised everyone; the measured weight change was just 0.3 pounds in the female and less than 1.5 pounds in the male subjects .
A more recent clinical trial was conducted for 10 weeks on 20 female participants. They were asked to eat 344 calories (around 60 grams) of almonds daily without any specific dietary guidance. After two and a half months, there was not any noticeable change in the body weight of these women. The investigators concluded: “These data indicate that the consumption of 344 calories of almonds each day for 10 weeks does not promote weight gain or changes in body composition” .
Nuts - A Vital Ingredient of Weight Loss Diets
Can nuts be consumed as part of a weight loss program? To pose this question differently, which weight loss diet is ideal, a nut-free one or one containing nuts?
That was the very objective of a number of studies that compared the effectiveness of weight loss programs where nuts were consumed with those that were not.
In 2003, a trial was conducted with 65 obese adults in a weight loss program. The study lasted for 24 weeks. The participants were instructed to follow either a low-calorie, moderate-fat diet containing almonds (84g/day), or a low-calorie, low-fat diet without almonds, that was high in carbs. Both diets provided the same number of calories. The result was unexpected; the low calorie diet with almonds reduced the participants’ weight, waist circumference, and fat mass over 50% more than the diet without almonds .
In a similar study, two weight loss diets having similar caloric values were compared; a moderate-fat diet that contained nuts, and a low fat-diet without nuts. After 18 months, the subjects in the moderate-fat group lost 15 more pounds than the ones in the low fat group. What’s more, the nut containing, moderate-fat diet was much easier to stick to. Almost 3 times more people in the moderate-fat group were still participating in the weight loss program compared to the people in the low-fat group .
Dr James Hollis DVM from Purdue University explains: “Almond consumption may aid weight loss, probably by increasing compliance with an energy-restricted diet”
Three Reasons Why A Weight Loss Diet Should Contain Nuts
1. Nuts have a high fullness index; that means they make you feel full as well as satisfied. Consuming nuts reduces hunger pangs substantially. This decreases your overall daily calorie intake. The satiety effect of nuts counter balances their high calorie burden. This is why successful diet programs like Atkins and Weight Watchers include and encourage the consumption of nuts.
2. Prolonged nut consumption increases REE (resting energy expenditure), known also as BMR (basal metabolic rate). When you eat nuts, the amount of calories you burn in one day is higher relative to the condition where you don’t eat nuts—everything else being equal. Therefore, as a nut eater, you can safely take an extra serving of food without worrying about gaining weight. If you choose not to take these extra calories that your increased metabolism has burned, then you will simply create a calorie deficit, which will make you lose weight.
3. The small intestine cannot easily absorb calories from nuts. It has been estimated that about 18% of the fat content from whole nuts gets excreted in the stool.
The above trials and studies are an eye-opener. The myth that nuts are fattening is an old one. I would suggest you head to the grocery store and buy a jar of nuts. Tell them that you are on a weight loss program and you need to eat nuts. Watch their expression!
1. Effect on body weight of a free 76 Kilojoule (320 calorie) daily supplement of almonds for six months. Fraser GE, Bennett HW, Jaceldo KB, Sabaté J. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Jun;21(3):275-83.
2. Effect of chronic consumption of almonds on body weight in healthy humans. Hollis J, Mattes R. Br J Nutr. 2007 Sep;98(3):651-6. Epub 2007 Apr 20.
3. Almonds vs complex carbohydrates in a weight reduction program. Wien MA, Sabaté JM, Iklé DN, Cole SE, Kandeel FR. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Nov;27(11):1365-72. Erratum in: Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Mar;28(3):459.
4. A randomized controlled trial of a moderate-fat, low-energy diet compared with a low fat, low-energy diet for weight loss in overweight adults. McManus K, Antinoro L, Sacks F. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Oct;25(10):1503-11.