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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.

PS: You can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

Image credit: jypsygen / Flickr

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Dr. Michael Greger

A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. Hundreds of his nutrition videos are freely available at


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8:07PM PDT on Oct 18, 2013

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.

12:34PM PDT on Mar 16, 2013

I like nuts!

7:48AM PDT on Sep 12, 2012

Interesting thought!!

4:49PM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

Yum! :)

8:18PM PDT on Sep 8, 2012

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

8:03PM PDT on Sep 8, 2012

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.

8:16AM PDT on Sep 1, 2012

This is such good news, thank you.

8:08AM PDT on Sep 1, 2012

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

8:06AM PDT on Sep 1, 2012

Probably because of the parasites that live on them. One might just as well swallow a tapeworm in order to lose weight.

11:05PM PDT on Aug 31, 2012

I loved it when other people were saying agriculture should shift away from meat and livestock focus and towards nuts and healthy food and not just me :)

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