Nuts Don’t Cause Expected Weight Gain

Nuts are packed with nutrition, but they are also packed with calories. Why, then, don’t nuts seem to make people fat?  In my video pick above, I profile a review published back in 2007 looking at about 20 clinical trials that had been done on nuts and weight. Not a single one showed the weight gain one would expect.

All of the studies either showed less weight gain than predicted, no weight gain at all, or actual weight loss—even after study subjects added a handful or two of nuts per day to their diet. However, the studies lasted just a few weeks or months. What about long-term?

Maybe in the short run nuts don’t lead to weight gain as much as other foods, but what about after years of eating nuts? Well that’s been examined six different ways in studies lasting up to eight years. One found no significant change and the other five out of six measures found significantly less weight gain and risk of abdominal obesity in those eating more nuts.

Since the review is now 5 years old, in my video I update it to include all of the studies published since, including three published this month. For example, in 2012 there was study in which people added over a hundred pistachios to their daily diets for three months and didn’t gain a pound. How did 30,000 calories disappear?

What happened to the missing calories? The mystery has been solved. Last Monday in my video-of-the-day, Solving the Mystery of the Missing Calories, I presented the “pistachio principle” and the fecal excretion theory.  On Tuesday these theories were put to the test.  On Wednesday I explored the Dietary Compensation Theory, and by Thursday we had figured it out. Part of the trick seemed to be that nuts boost fat burning within the body, but how? It could have something to do with the amino acid arginine (see my 2-min. video Fat Burning via Arginine) or the phytonutrients found in nuts and green tea (Fat Burning via Flavonoids). Since nut consumption has been associated with lower rates of heart disease and living a longer life we should include them in our regular diet without worrying that they’re going to make us fat.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

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Image credit: jypsygen / Flickr

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Laurie Mazzeo
Laurie Mazzeo9 months ago

must start eating more nuts on a daily basis

Laurie Mazzeo
Laurie Mazzeo9 months ago

must start eating more nuts on a daily basis

Kylie J.
Kylie J.2 years ago

This is great news.Being a vegetarian,I love nuts and are a good source of omega fatty acids,which are otherwise found in fish.They help to keep the heart healthy and maintain a good body weight.Though cashews may have a little more fat but almonds and walnuts contain the good oils.It is also a good and natural way of acquiring proteins,which are the building blocks of our body.

Ben Oscarsito
Ben Oscarsito2 years ago

I like nuts!

Angie B.
Angela B.3 years ago

Interesting thought!!

Christina B.
Christina B.3 years ago

Yum! :)

Dave C.
Dave C.3 years ago

awesome, because I love nuts and probably eat too I can eat more!

heather g.
heather g.3 years ago

Being a vegetarian, I really enjoy eating nuts. I don't think one should over-indulge though ie I would regard 'two handfuls per day' as over-indulging. Easy to do though, if you happen to be eating unconsciously in front of one's PC.
Thanks Dr Greger, now I won't experience pangs of guilt.

Back Again H.
Past Member 3 years ago

This is such good news, thank you.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago

Most people are allergic to nuts anyway and so am I, fortunately. ;-)