Nuts and Weight Loss: Can These Two Go Together?

May 5, 2010 · 2 comments

This is a guest post by Matthew Dinnos.

Nuts Are High In Fat
Ummm… It’s hard to stop eating nuts once you begin munching on them! Those crunchy and scrumptious little morsels of nature have been wrongly accused of adding pounds to your body. It’s not their fault! But, it’s not your fault either - nuts do contain lots of calories. It’s only natural for people with a weight problem to shun nuts and tag them as fattening foods.

But Wait…
Don’t all food articles contain calories? Should you then completely stop eating food!? The trick to effective weight loss is eating everything in moderation, and that includes nuts. Yes! You cannot expect to remain healthy by banishing entire food categories from your menu. You may face nutritional deficiencies by doing that. Anyway, once you learn about the health benefits of nuts, you will go crazy over them! Do you know that fat is essential for your body? So, even while you’re trying to shed pounds, you cannot ban fat completely from your diet. Fat keeps hunger pangs at bay, which is important for losing weight. Nuts like peanuts, cashew nuts and Brazil nuts are not actually nuts; they are seeds. And they are high in fat. Yet, we can safely call them fat-fighting foods. You might be wondering if we’ve gone nuts talking about nuts! Well, let’s see what science says.

Won’t Nuts Make Me Fat?
Studies have shown that people who include nuts in their daily diet have a lower BMI compared to those who do not eat nuts. In addition, people who want to lose weight are more likely to adhere to a moderate-fat, nut-containing diet, than a low fat, nut-free diet. Back in 1992, when Fraser and his research group first examined the protective effect of nuts on the risk of heart disease, they were surprised to find a negative association between consumption of nuts and obesity. They reported: “the higher nut consumers in this population were less obese” [1].

Since then, many studies have confirmed that nut eaters have a lower BMI than non-nut eaters. And that’s without any other change in diet or physical activity. For example, in one trial, healthy adults received 15% of their daily energy needs from almonds, for a period of 6 months. Given the high calorie content of almonds, it was expected that the participants’ weight would increase by 14lb. Instead, the measured change was less than 1.5lb for men and 0.3lb for women [2].

In a more recent 10-week trial, 20 women were required to consume almonds without any advice on how to include them in their diet. The researchers noted that the daily almond consumption did not cause any change in body weight and concluded that “a daily 60g (344 calories) serving of almonds, sufficient to provide beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk factors, may be included in the diet with limited risk of weight gain” [3].

Can Nuts Be Part of a Weight Loss Diet?

Here is the question: Nuts can be consumed without fearing weight gain, but can they be used in a diet that is designed to promote weight loss? To put it in a different way, which diet is more effective; one that includes nuts or one that is nut-free? Numerous studies have compared the effectiveness of nut-containing versus nut-free weight reduction programs. In a 2003 study, 65 obese adults participated in a 24-week weight loss program that featured either an almond enriched low calorie diet (84g/day) or a carbohydrate enriched low calorie diet. Both diets contained the same amount of calories. Yet, the almond diet brought about 62% greater reductions in weight, 50% greater reduction in waist circumference and 56% greater reduction in fat mass. Total body water and systolic blood pressure were lower as well. [4]

In addition to losing more weight, almost 3 times more dieters were able to follow a moderate-fat diet that included nuts than a low-fat diet without nuts, as revealed in a study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders [5].

These data demonstrate that at least that “nuts can be included in a weight loss diet without compromising efficacy”, notes Dr Mattes R.D., professor in the Department of Foods and Nutrition at Purdue.

3 Reasons To Include Nuts In A Weight Loss Diet

Why is it that daily intake of a high energy density food like nuts does not lead to weight gain and can even increase the effectiveness of a weight loss program? The following 3 reasons have been proposed:

  • Nuts promote satiety. The consumption of a fixed amount of nuts, including chestnuts, peanuts and almonds, leads to a drastic reduction in hunger pangs. The calorie load of nuts is counter balanced by the less food consumed in subsequent meals.
  • Chronic nut consumption, particularly of peanuts and almonds, increases resting energy expenditure (REE) or basal metabolic rate (BMR). This means that you burn more calories while resting and can easily “eat” those calories without worrying about gaining extra weight. An increased BMR leads to weight loss, providing that you do not compensate by increasing your calorie intake.
  • The calories contained in nuts are not readily absorbed in the small intestine. Studies show that about 18% of the fat content is lost in the stool following the consumption of whole nuts.

The Nut Diet For Weight Loss

Here is a nut diet a learned from a friend. Unlike crash diets or other forms of diets, the nut diet is balanced. But, the condition is: each meal portion should be less than nine ounces. This diet is for ten days, and I was told I may lose about seven pounds. During the diet, you must avoid sugar and sweets completely.

BREAKFAST (Choose One Of The Three Menus)

  • A salad of tomatoes and chopped almonds, topped with olive oil + black coffee
  • Small slice of pizza loaded with tomatoes, goat cheese, green peppers, and crushed cashew nuts as toppings.
  • A casserole of cottage cheese with sauce from orange juice, topped with almond bits + tea

LUNCH (Choose One Of The Three Menus)

  • An apple with a handful of nuts
  • A handful of raisins and nuts
  • A handful of dates and nuts

DINNER (Choose One Of The Three Menus)

  • Tomato soup containing basil, roasted potato salad with a green vegetable, a cup of yogurt (sugar-free)
  • Broccoli and white mushroom soup with sour low-fat cream, a handful of prunes or raisins and walnuts, a glass of strawberry or cherry or currant juice
  • Potato and fennel soup, chopped nuts with lettuce leaves and olive oil, a glass of carrot or tomato or pumpkin juice

SUPPER (Choose One Of The Three Menus)

  • Scalded spinach topped with olive oil and a veggie salad sprinkled with cheese
  • Grated carrot salad with low-fat cream, dried apricots, stewed prunes
  • Herbal tea – lemon tea, mint tea, chamomile tea

So, the next time you are tempted to grab a handful of nuts from the bowl at a party, DO IT! You’re on a weight loss program, guys; you need nuts to get thin!


  1. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. The Adventist Health Study. Fraser GE, Sabaté J, Beeson WL, Strahan TM. Arch Intern Med. 1992 Jul;152(7):1416-24.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.

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Greg May 5, 2010 at 9:31 pm

I think you’re right on target here. Even though nuts are high in calories, the high fat content promotes a feeling of fullness.

I’ve made nuts a staple of my diet, and it works out great!

Greg's Transformation May 19, 2010 at 11:55 am

During the last 6.5 months I ate 4.7 lbs of almonds. That’s 74 oz, 74 servings, close to 12,000 calories worth of almonds. And this is just the pure almonds that I had, not counting all the energy bars that are filled with the stuff.

And I lost 70 lbs in the last 6.5 months. Now I prefer to eat more granola for breakfast due to the higher carb content for my running regime but almonds, or nuts in general, are an excellent snack on a diet.

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