Yes, it’s true that there really aren’t too many shortcuts when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. BUT there certainly are tips and tricks that can make the whole process easier, especially when it comes to weight loss! For example: eating just half a serving of nuts per day can be an effective weight loss strategy.
When I stumbled across an article describing how adding less than a handful of nuts per day to your diet could help you lose weight, I was skeptical but intrigued. So I kept digging – and I found not just one study, but a whole body of scientific literature on the relationship between nutty goodness and healthy body weight! If it sounds too good to be true, believe me, I get it. But it’s the real deal! Read on as I break down what I found out about nuts and how they can help you on your weight loss journey.
So to start; because nuts contain high fat content, experts originally figured that more fat = bad. But beginning in the 1980’s, Harvard researchers in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Physicians’ Health Study turned this thought process completely upside down. They followed 120,000 people and their diets for 30 years. They specifically asked if and how often the individuals consumed nuts, and the results were astonishing: the nut eaters were less likely to die of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease than those who didn’t eat nuts!
This prompted new lines of science investigating how and why nuts could be so surprisingly good for you. A UCLA weight loss study in 2010 assigned people to one of two daily snacking groups, pistachios or pretzels, for 12 weeks and found that while both groups lost weight, those in the pistachio group lost more! One researcher from the Institute of Human Nutrition even proposed that nuts be considered a ‘functional food,’ because their functional properties in weight management and control extend far beyond just the nutritional benefits!
Most recently, Harvard researchers analyzed questionnaire responses on dietary habits, physical activity, and weight changes from about 145,000 middle-aged and older men and women. People who went from never eating nuts to eating a daily average of at least half a serving (about half a handful) were 16% less likely to become obese over a four-year period compared with people who didn’t eat nuts at all. Substituting a half serving of nuts per day for red meat, processed meat, French fries, desserts, or potato chips was also associated with less weight gain.
How can this be possible, you ask? Nuts are packed full of critical nutrients that increase satiety, like protein and fiber. That means that just a handful of peanuts can help you feel fuller longer, so you reduce your overall caloric intake and will be less likely to reach for that bag of chips! Furthermore, “up to 20% of calories from nut consumption will be excreted from our body,” says Dr. Xiaoran Liu. That’s because a significant portion of fat remains trapped in the nut’s walls during digestion! Which nuts are best? Almonds are consistently shown to have strong correlations with weight loss, but I think you really can’t go wrong with any of them.
My key takeaway from all this nuttiness is that increased nut consumption can be an incredible tool in a weight loss journey, but only when combined with other healthy eating and living principles. Merely adding additional calories to your day in the form of nuts won’t help anything; but it can speed along the process when you’re eating well and counting your calories, allocating some of those each day to a highly nutritious and filling nutty snack! Adding nuts to your diet is a little change that can make a big difference.
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