No, eating nuts will not make you gain weight when included in a healthy diet.  In fact, research shows that those who eat nuts are less likely to be overweight than those who don’t eat nuts, and are more likely to be a healthy weight [1]. 

There are several possible explanations for why eating nuts are not associated with weight gain.

We don’t absorb all of the fat in nuts

The fat in nuts is stored in the nut’s cell walls, which don’t easily break down during digestion. As a result, when we eat nuts we don’t absorb all of the fat. Some of the fat instead is passed out in our faeces [2, 3]. It’s estimated that up to around 20% of the calories from nuts are not absorbed [4, 5].

Nuts can increase satiety and reduce appetite

Nuts contain high levels of fibre and protein, which can help to make you feel fuller for longer and reduce appetite [6, 7]. The healthy fats in nuts also help release satiety hormones cholecystokinin (CCK) and peptide YY (PYY), which tell you when you’re full [8, 9]. 

Nuts can increase metabolism

It’s been found that 10% of the energy that nuts contain is used to fuel the process of digesting them [10]. In other words, we burn more calories when we eat nuts. 

Nut eaters have better diets

Because nuts help to make us feel full, nut eaters tend to eat less during later meals [11]. Nuts may also replace less healthy ‘junk foods’ as snacks. Finally, nuts make an enjoyable addition to the diet – making the diet more palatable. 

References

  1. Li, H., et al., Nut consumption and risk of metabolic syndrome and overweight/obesity: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies and randomized trials. Nutr Metab (Lond), 2018. 15: p. 46.
  2. Hollis, J. and R. Mattes, Effect of chronic consumption of almonds on body weight in healthy humans. Br J Nutr, 2007. 98(3): p. 651-6.
  3. Ellis, P.R., et al., Role of cell walls in the bioaccessibility of lipids in almond seeds. Am J Clin Nutr, 2004. 80(3): p. 604-13.
  4. Baer, D.J., S.K. Gebauer, and J.A. Novotny, Measured energy value of pistachios in the human diet. Br J Nutr, 2012. 107(1): p. 120-5.
  5. Baer, D.J., S.K. Gebauer, and J.A. Novotny, Walnuts Consumed by Healthy Adults Provide Less Available Energy than Predicted by the Atwater Factors. J Nutr, 2016. 146(1): p. 9-13.
  6. Noakes, M., The role of protein in weight management. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 2008. 17 Suppl 1: p. 169-71.
  7. Pereira, M.A. and D.S. Ludwig, Dietary fiber and body-weight regulation. Observations and mechanisms. Pediatr Clin North Am, 2001. 48(4): p. 969-80.
  8. Cassady, B.A., et al., Mastication of almonds: effects of lipid bioaccessibility, appetite, and hormone response. Am J Clin Nutr, 2009. 89(3): p. 794-800.
  9. Pasman, W.J., et al., The effect of Korean pine nut oil on in vitro CCK release, on appetite sensations and on gut hormones in post-menopausal overweight women. Lipids Health Dis, 2008. 7: p. 10.
  10. Mattes, R.D., The energetics of nut consumption. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 2008. 17 Suppl 1: p. 337-9.
  11. Tan, S.Y., J. Dhillon, and R.D. Mattes, A review of the effects of nuts on appetite, food intake, metabolism, and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr, 2014. 100 Suppl 1: p. 412s-22s.
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