Do Nuts Make People Fat?

“Ninety percent of the published studies on this topic suggest that nut consumption does not lead to weight gain.”

Nuts are packed with nutrition, yet they are also packed with calories–lots of them, even more so than extracted oil, margarine, or butter! We’re talking like 3200 to over 4000 calories, per pound, depending on the nut. So, the nutritional research question is, “Why don’t nuts the make people fat–or do they?”

According to Michael Gregor MD, there have been 18 clinical trials reviewing nuts and weight after adding, in some cases, entire handfuls of nuts to peoples’ daily diets, and people gained a few pounds in only two cases.

Of course, if you sit in front of the TV munching on cashews (a whole bag of cashews is like a whole tree’s worth of nuts that would have naturally taken you hours and hours of energy to procure), you will get fat. But, that’s not what we are talking about here.

According to the other 14 studies, participants did not gain weight , nd in 3 of these studies, they actually lost weight!

How is that even possible?

First of all, I was not surprised by this information. In fact, I have been eating nuts and seeds for a very long time. And, already know this to be true myself, having learned it from one of the pioneers on the subject of eating nuts, Joel Fuhrman, MD, who advocates nut consumption, in the face of so many other doctors warning against doing so because of fat content.

But how is it possible to eat such a high-calorie food and not gain weight?

It is important to keep in mind that these were clinical trials where people added nuts to their eating styles for only a few months. So, what about the long-term effects, after years of eating nuts?

Well, this has been studied in 6 different ways, in studies lasting from one year to eight years. One of these studies, called the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, found no significant change, and the other 5 studies, showed a decrease in weight gain from eating nuts.

The reason I know is to be true is simple. Nuts are a nutrient-rich food. They are packed with fiber, nutrients and healthy fats. And, you don’t need to eat many of them to shut off any existing hunger and become pretty full. In addition, if the rest of your eating style is 90% or More Plant-Based, Nutrient Rich, and is optimized for nutrient density and volume, then your desire to eat too many nuts, even if you have a bag of them in front of you (hopefully not) becomes diminished.

Nonetheless, there is also discourse that says that nuts do not promote weight loss, and instead will cause you to gain weight. In fact, Jeff Nelson, of VegSource, who is someone I highly respect, just wrote a recent article on this —…

There seems to a “gotcha point,” in this article, when it is not in fact really a “gotcha” at all. Nut consumption, as with any food we consume, will have an effect on weight/health. After all, food intake from any source is always related to energy (calories) management.

There is nothing “gotcha” about that. Rather, what matters most is whether the food (in this case nuts) should be part of the eating style to begin with, and for what reason it should do so. “How much” becomes secondary, and then becomes the main point–and is an individual thing, even though there are guidelines, which you’ll learn when you begin making the Switch to Nutrient Rich Healthy Eating.

I think that the VegSource article, which offers a great deal of insight, has a mistaken premise, which is the point that nuts promote weight loss, or weight gain. They can in both instances, but it depends on all of the other factors, and that is very difficult to ascertain and communicate in media.

We have to understand the population (one or many) being studied, before taking any statement as being fact. It is context (circumstance) dependent.

Without going into depth rewarding all of the benefits and nutritional reasons why nuts are an essential component of a nutrient-rich eating style, in this post (phytochemicals, lignans/fiber, antioxidants, phytosterols etc, not to mention 15-20 percent protein, healthy fats including omega 3’s, etc.) the bottom line, on a calorie basis alone, is this–you will gain weight, if you overeat eat nuts at anywhere from 3200 to over 4000 calories, or more, a pound.

I don’t think the question is “Do nuts cause weight gain?” The truth is that they can and will cause weight gain, if you overeat them, but so will starchy vegetables, grains, beans and fruit, if you overeat them beyond your need for calories. However, it may not happen as quickly as it does for refined foods because of resistant starch, and fiber etc., and because they don’t contain refined and added salt, oil and sugar, which causes weight gain far beyond actual calorie content..

Does the above mean eating starchy vegetables, grains, beans and fruit will cause weight gain? No, but just like nuts, they could, when they are eaten beyond one’s need. The same is true for fish, chicken and steak. It doesn’t matter what the food is, eating to much of any food can cause weight gain.

In the nutrient-rich healthy eating style, we are only talking about 1-4 oz., a day, (that does not mean you have to eat nuts every day) with most people eating only 1-2 oz. a day because they are already carrying around too much excess weight, or don’t have the activity levels to support eating more. Nuts are 200+ calories an oz.!

So, again, I think that saying, “Don’t eat eat nuts because they cause weight gain,” is short sighted. To say they don’t cause weight gain also misses the point. They can do both.

The real questions are: “What is their nutritional value, why should I eat them, and how much of them should I eat? OK, it is really a 3- part question. 😉

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