Most fitness buffs love the delightful taste of peanut butter, but when it comes to restrictive dieting, peanut butter goes on the banned food list. Mounting evidence suggests that eating nuts has more benefits when it comes to weight control than previously speculated. If you’re a nut lover and need a reason to include this delicious food group in your diet, keep reading!
Reason #1: Eat More Nuts for Fewer Calories
You may think you need to avoid eating nuts because of their high caloric value, but evidence now suggests that you don’t absorb all those calories that you consume from a nut! The structure of a nut is not so accessible to the human body. To access all the nutrients inside, the parenchymal cell walls must be disrupted, which is challenging. The fiber can delay gastric emptying, and transit time, while the simple process of chewing the nuts increases satiation signals and influences digestion. Additionally, fatty acids in the nuts can bind to other fibers in the gut and be packed for excretion, resulting in much less calorie absorption!
In one study, fecal fat losses associated with eating 42 grams of almonds or pistachios was shown comparable at approximately 4.5 g/d, showing that all nuts have a similar response in the body. It was shown that moderating energy intake is most effective with whole nuts, followed by nut butters and lastly by oils.
Reason #2: Increase Thermogenesis and Lose Weight
One study showed that those who ate nuts five times per week on a moderate fat diet lost more weight than those who ate a low fat diet that didn’t include nuts. And there is plenty more evidence to support no weight gain on nut diets compared to other diets. In one large cohort study on 31,000 subjects, a statistically significant negative association between consumption of nuts and BMI was shown. Subjects were also leaner than infrequent nut eaters.
In fact, most studies on nut diets have observed a non-significant tendency to lower weight in subjects. Another study showed a significant weight loss of approximately 3 kilograms over six months in a group fed nuts in their diet.
Why? It is suggested that nuts’ high fiber and fat content have a high thermic effect of food, which is the amount of calories used by the body to burn off the food you’re eating. It has been shown that high fat diets can increase resting energy expenditure and diet induced thermogenesis. In one eight-week study on peanuts, an 11 percent increase in resting energy expenditure was observed, while another study with almonds showed a 14 percent increase.
Nuts are a source of oleic acid, which has been shown in animal models to increase thermogenesis and increase the release of norepinephrine— a key fat burning hormone, that stimulates activity of brown adipose tissue or BAT, resulting in lower body fat accumulation.
Reason #3: Increase Satiety and Reduce Hunger
Nuts are a great source of fiber, good fats and even protein. These characteristics can all increase satiety, increase feelings of fullness and reduce hunger between meals. Eating nuts has also been shown to help reduce the intake of the other foods, and thus reduce overall calorie intakes. In one study, daily consumption of peanuts for four days increased fasting satiety and fullness levels, prolonging time between meals and desire to eat.
Studies on almonds have shown that just including them in your diet can reduce the energy intake of other foods! It was also found that eating whole almonds as snacks between meals had a significant appetite blunting effect on later meals compared to individuals who ate no nuts.
There is some evidence to suggest that nuts may have an effect on appetite-control hormones CCK and PYY. Regardless, it is evident that including nuts in the diet, particularly between meals, can help reduce appetite and impede further eating.
Abazarfard Z, et al. The effect of almonds on anthropometric measurements and lipid profile in overweight and obese females in a weight reduction program: A randomized controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2014. 19(5): 457-64.
Sabate J. Nut consumption and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003. 78(3): 647S-50S.
Takeuchi H, et al. Diet-induced thermogenesis is lower in rats fed a lard diet than in those fed a high oleic acid safflower oil diet, a safflower oil diet or linseed oil diet. J Nutr. 1995. 125(4): 920-5.
Tan SY, et al. A review of the effects of nuts on appetite, food intake, metabolism and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014. 100 (S1): 412S-22S.