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Nuts for weight management

By Matt O'Neill, MSc(Nut&Diet), APD

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Nuts such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts are packed full of beneficial substances for good health. They may also help you stay in shape, as you'll learn in this article.

Despite what many people believe, eating nuts regularly can actually help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. When incorporated into a moderate fat, kilojoule controlled diet, nuts can prevent weight gain and help enhance the
enjoyment of a weight loss diet, helping you stick to your healthy eating plan for longer.

Satisfying hunger

Due to the fibre and high amount of protein found in most nuts, they can help manage weight by satisfying hunger for longer. By reducing your appetite, a small handful (30g) of nuts can result in less food being eaten later in the day, therefore helping control overall kilojoule (energy) intake.

Moderate fat may keep weight off for longer

Research shows that when people lose weight, only 14% keep their weight off in the long term. One of the reasons may be that traditional low fat, high carbohydrate diets often recommended for weight loss are not as appetising as other styles of eating.

A recent study tested the idea that by including moderate amounts of foods high in healthy fats in a weight loss diet, people would enjoy their food more and would stick to their diet for longer. The results of the study showed that this was the case. After 18 months, people who followed the moderate fat, low kilojoule, Mediterranean style diet, lost more weight than people on the traditional low fat, low kilojoule diet. In fact, the people on the low fat diet actually gained an average of 2.9kg! The researchers reported that because the moderate fat diet included foods like nuts, peanut butter and olive oil the diet was tastier and made it is easier to stick to in the long term.

Higher protein may be better for some

Along with a more moderate fat intake, recent research also shows that compared to a traditional low fat, high carbohydrate diet, a higher protein intake can be more successful for long term weight loss. Nuts are rich in protein and low in carbohydrate and can therefore be included regularly in a higher protein weight loss plan.

How much & how often?

Enjoying 30g of nuts (a small handful) most days a week has maximum benefits for general health. To help manage your weight, substitute foods like biscuits, cakes, pastries and fried snack foods with a snack of nuts and fruit.

Tips for including nuts daily

Try the following to enjoy nuts as part of your healthy eating plan:

  • Snack on plain, unsalted nuts throughout the day. Look for raw or dry roasted nuts to avoid extra added fat.
  • Sprinkle pine nuts or halved walnuts through a stir fry
  • Roast hazelnuts or chestnuts and toss them through a salad
  • Sprinkle crushed roasted hazelnuts onto a warming soup for winter
  • Crush almonds over low fat yoghurt and fruit
  • Sprinkle a handful of chopped macadamias or Brazil nuts over a wholegrain breakfast cereal
  • Mix crushed pecans or pistachios with breadcrumbs and herbs for a tasty chicken stuffing
  • Add slivered almonds to fresh Asian roll ups or rice paper rolls
For more about the health benefits of nuts, visit Nuts for Life. Nuts for LIfe is a proud supporter of Matt O'Neill's Nutrition for Fat Loss Course

Weight management references

1. McManus, K., L. Antinoro, F. Sacks. 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 Int J Obesity 2001;25: 1503-11
2. Eisenstein J, Roberts SB, Dallal G, Saltzman E. High-protein weight-loss diets: are they safe and do they work? A review of the experimental and epidemiologic data Nutr Rev 2002;60 (7 Pt 1):189-200
3. Helsing E. Traditional diets and disease patterns of the Mediterranean, circa 1960 Am J Clin Nutr 1995;61(suppl):1329S-37S
4. Willett WC, Sacks F, Trichopoulou A, Drescher G, Ferro-Luzzi A, Helsing E, Trichopoulos D. Mediterranean diet pyramid: a cultural model for healthy eating Am J Clin Nutr
5. Sabate J. Nut consumption and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):647S-650S
6. Fraser GE, Bennett HW, Jaceldo KB, Sabate J. Effect on body weight of a free 76 Kilojoule (320 calorie) daily supplement of almonds for six months. J Am Coll Nutr 2002 Jun;21(3):275-83



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