Wondering if going nuts over nuts will help you tone up and slim down?
You’re not alone: raw almonds, nut butters, and crunchy nut mixes are commonly tossed into the carts, gym bags, and purses of weight-watching consumers. Compared to fluorescent orange chips and sweet snacks, nuts for weight loss seem like a better option – but are they really?
Are nuts high in protein?
For a food to be considered high in any one nutrient (and to legally be able to claim such on nutritional panels and product packaging), it must contain at least 20% of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient in question- in this case, protein. The DV for protein is 50 grams, meaning that any food claiming to be high in protein must contain 10 grams or more.
A serving of nuts is 1 oz- number of nuts per serving varies by type of nut. A serving (again, 1 oz) of almonds, for examples, is about 23 nuts, containing 160 Calories and 6 grams of protein.
So, high protein? Decidedly not.
However, that’s not to say that nuts are low in nutrition or not beneficial to overall health: studies on the benefits of nuts have consistently shown that diets including nuts and nut butters are related to better cardiac outcomes- especially if nuts are consumed in place of less healthful fats, like shortening or margarine. Just be sure to purchase natural nut butters, or check the label of your preferred brand to make sure it’s free of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils- aka, trans fat. Trans fats have been shown to increase cholesterol and risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and other vascular conditions of the brain and heart.
Speaking of fat, that brings us to our next topic: Calorie content and weight loss.
Are nuts good for weight loss?
Not exactly. While nuts are a healthful food and studies have shown that consuming nuts while eating a Calorically appropriate diet improves health outcomes, most people overdo it with mixed nuts, peanut butter, and raw almonds- not to mention every other type of nut. Deliciously snackable, it’s easy to get a little too heavy handed and go way overboard on Calories.
Calories serve as the single most important determinant of weight status- regardless of how healthful the overall content of your diet, it’s the number of Calories you consume that will ultimately determine the number on the scale. Consuming foods that are extremely Calorically dense (like nuts, thanks to their high fat content) can make losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight difficult.
So should you nix nuts altogether? Not necessarily- just be sure to measure, measure, measure, and account for those Calories with food logging- the best way to lose weight.