Nuts in Weight Loss Programs
Nuts as we all know are high in fats so, it is obvious that people on weight loss programs will be hesitant to pick up nuts to eat. But, in spite of being high in fats and thus calories, nuts are a nutrient powerhouse containing fiber, proteins, minerals and many other vital nutrients. They are also rich in antioxidants that protect cell membranes from oxidative damage and help lower triglycerides & LDL cholesterol and promote production of HDL cholesterol. And above all, in spite of being high in fats they play a role in weight loss.
Nuts are high in calories primarily because they have high amount of fat in them. However, the fat that is present in nuts is unsaturated in nature which reduces the risk of heart disease and also has a protective effect against other diseases. Studies in the last decade or so have shown that nut consumption reduces the risk of coronary artery disease and also certain cancers.
Several studies have shown that regular consumption of nuts does not lead to weight gain and may even prevent weight gain. A study showed that those who ate two or more portions of nuts a week had a 31% lower risk of weight gain, in comparison to those who never or rarely ate them. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has reported a study that women who ate nuts more than two times a week had a lower risk of gaining weight than those who never ate nuts. This could be attributed to the high protein and unsaturated fat content in nuts which would help in reducing the appetite and creating a feeling of fullness which would result in eating less of other foods including the unhealthy options.
Eating too many calories from energy dense foods – more than the expenditure, will any which ways cause an increase in weight gain. It would be wise to use nuts as a substitute for the less healthy foods. So, substituting an evening snack of a burger / vada pav / chips, etc with a serving of nuts will ensure that your weight management goals are taken care of.
Some common nuts:
- Almonds: are rich sources of proteins, antioxidants and heart healthy fats
- Cashews: are rich in fat but are also rich in protein and magnesium that are important for metabolism of fats and carbohydrates
- Walnuts: are rich in protein and heart healthy fats like other nuts but, there is one uniqueness. It is the richest source of plant omega-3 fatty acid that helps in maintaining higher HDL levels and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Pistachios: are rich in antioxidants and fibers that will make you feel full easily and will also protect cells from any damage
- Peanuts: are technically legumes but their nutrient profile and health benefits are similar to nuts. Hence, they may play a role in reducing the risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.
Nuts come with an array of nutrients and health benefits. Hence, they can be one of the healthiest snacking options for anyone on a weight loss program. However, make sure that the nuts are unsalted, un sugared and without any other flavours. One also needs to be careful with the amount of nuts eaten, because anything in excess is harmful and can also lead to weight gain because of the high amount of calories in them. So, as long as your total fat intake remains within 20-30% of the total caloric intake, nuts need not be a concern for people who wish to make them a part of their regular diet – controlling the portion sizes. Build a healthy meal plan with Café Nutrition dietitians in Mumbai and nutritionists in Mumbai for healthy eating. Our experts help build realistic plans with the vital food groups along with lifestyle changes which help in creating fulfilling and healthy lives.