Nuts are part of the protein food group as outlined by the Choose My Plate program. They have a lot to offer in the way of nutrition, but many options are high in calories, which can hinder weight loss goals. That being said, nuts are a healthy addition to almost anyone's meal plan and can be part of an effective weight loss plan when eaten the correct way. In fact, research indicates that snacking on nuts can help maintain a healthy weight while boosting nutrient intake at the same time.
Healthy Weight Loss
The bottom line when it comes to weight loss is to burn more calories than you consume on a daily basis. Theoretically then, any food can be part of a weight loss plan as long as the calories in those choices are balanced with how they are burned. However, higher calorie foods do play a big role in weight gain because it is often hard to satisfy hunger for an entire day with the small portions that would work for a weight loss diet.
By choosing high-fiber foods -like nuts- a person can effectively drop weight and prevent weight gain while also feeling full. That's because fiber fills your belly and keeps you feeling full longer.
The protein in nuts is ideal for helping fuel your muscles to get through a workout and also aids in recovery afterwards.
Calories in Nuts
Now that you know that nuts can be part of a healthy weight loss plan, it pays to be aware of their calorie content. That way you can seamlessly incorporate them into your meal plan without taking in more calories than you should. By balancing the calories in nuts, you can easily include them with your other meals and snacks while still staying on track for weight loss.
The following calorie counts come courtesy of the USDA National Nutrient Database and are for one ounce of nuts, which is the standard serving size.
- Cashews: 157 calories
- Pine nuts: 191 calories
- Macadamia nuts: 204 calories
- Pistachios: 161 calories
- Pecans: 196 calories
- Walnuts: 185 calories
- Almonds: 164 calories
- Peanuts: 162 calories
It's important to remember that these calorie counts are for plain nuts. If you opt for the candied, salted, sugared or roasted versions, the calorie count can go up, sometimes quite dramatically.
Measure nuts so that you know you're getting the right portion size. According to the experts at Ladies' Home Journal magazine, this is roughly equal to the amount of nuts that fill two regular size shot glasses.
Nuts for Weight Loss
There are multitudes of studies researching how nuts can work as part of a weight loss plan. The overarching conclusion is that nuts offer a large degree of satiety, which means you can eat them for a snack and feel full for several hours, which is part of their role in controlling weight, according to Richard Mattes, a nutrition scientist at Purdue University who shares his findings with The New York Times. This is because nuts are full of protein, fiber and unsaturated fats, all of which are nutrients that fill the belly, keeping you feeling full longer than if you had opted for a low-protein, low-fiber snack. Nuts digest slowly, which gives you long lasting satiety, says Mattes.
Additional research by Mattes is published in Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition and reports that eating nuts can elevate your resting energy expenditure over the course of a couple of months. This means that you burn more calories at rest, which is beneficial if you're trying to lose weight.
While any type of nut can be part of a weight loss meal plan, some varieties have additional weight loss benefits. Two types of nuts may have the potential to provide further assistance for people looking to drop some weight.
- Pine nuts: According to research conducted by the American Psychological Association and reported by Science Daily, pine nuts have been linked with the suppression of hunger hormones. That means that when pine nuts are consumed, they may effectively reduce hunger and help people resist the temptation to overeat. The study used pine nut oil for its research, but because a handful of pine nuts also contain a decent amount of the oil, they may be a good choice for you if you need help controlling your appetite. Of course, pine nuts also contain protein and fiber, both of which also offer satiety.
- Almonds: A study published in the International Journal of Obesity reports that a diet that includes almonds can help you lose weight. The research compared a group of participants on a liquid diet with fat from almonds to one that ingested a liquid diet with complex carbohydrates. The people in the almond group lost more weight, experienced a greater drop in waist size and lowered their blood pressure to a higher degree. The study was conducted for diabetic patients, but the results can apply to someone who simply wants to drop pounds.
It's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new diet program. This is particularly true if you have health problems. Together you can work out an appropriate plan for helping you lose weight without compromising your health.
Making Nuts Work for You
Including nuts in your meal plan can have positive implications for weight loss goals. Try the following ways, courtesy of the University of Michigan Health System, to reap the benefits they have to offer.
- Eat them plain
- Add nuts to trail mix
- Beef up rice pilaf, green beans or soup with chopped or sliced nuts
- Sprinkle nuts into a tossed vegetable salad
- Use nuts as a crunchy coating for fish or chicken
- Toss nuts into stir-fry
- Stir nuts into oatmeal
- Add nuts to your favorite bread or muffin recipe
Just remember to add the calories in nuts into your daily requirements so you can stay on track for burning more calories than you consume. Your doctor can help you determine a healthy number of calories based on your gender, age, activity level and health status.