Many people avoid nuts when they’re trying to shed pounds due to their calorie density and the fact that nuts are high in fat. However, when added to your diet mindfully, consuming nuts can be a great way to lose weight.
Nuts are rich in a variety of nutrients, including healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that can all support weight loss.
Research shows that despite their high-calorie count, nut consumption is inversely related to weight gain. In other words, the more nuts you eat, the easier it is to maintain a healthy weight. This may be due to a variety of mechanisms, including[*]:
- Strong feelings of satiety, which can offset anywhere between 65% and 75% of the energy that they provide.
- An increased energy expenditure, which means your metabolism gets a boost when you choose nuts for a snack.
- Limited bioavailability, which means that your body can only absorb a certain portion of the energy that nuts provide.
In one ounce of walnuts (¼ cup), you get[*]:
- 185 calories
- 18.5 grams of fat
- 4.3 grams of protein
- 3.9 grams of carbohydrates
- 1.9 grams of fiber
- 2 net carbs
Walnuts make an excellent fat-fighting snack due to their low carbohydrates accompanied by high fat and protein. However, the real secret behind walnuts’ fat-burning qualities comes from the type of fat they contain.
Walnuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. In fact, 13.4 grams of the total 18.5 grams of fat per serving comes from omega-3 fatty acids — that’s about 72% of the fat content.
So what’s the big deal with omega-3s? The Western diet is effortlessly rich in omega-6 fatty acids, but omega-3s can be harder to come by. It’s believed that our ancestors consumed a diet that contained close to a 1:1 ratio of these two types of fats, where today, it’s closer to 15:1[*].
Research shows that when you get enough omega-3 fats, it can support your health in a myriad of ways, including lowering inflammation and supporting healthy weight loss.
In particular, omega-3 fat intake is associated with visceral fat loss, otherwise known as abdominal fat. Since abdominal fat is also associated with metabolic conditions like heart disease and metabolic syndrome, getting your omega-3s in could do much more than help you shed extra weight[*][*].
In one ounce of Brazil nuts (6 nuts), you get[*]:
- 187 calories
- 19 grams of fat
- 4 grams of protein
- 3.3 grams of carbohydrates
- 2.2 grams of fiber
- 1 net carb
Brazil nuts are commonly found in trail mix, sprinkled in here and there among almonds and peanuts to add a little variety. Although you may not think of snacking on brazil nuts alone, they’re actually a fantastic option if you want to make sure your metabolism is on point.
Among the nutrients contained in Brazil nuts, selenium is the all-star. With 544 grams of selenium per one-ounce serving, you’ll be packing in 989% of your daily needs with just six nuts — pretty impressive[*].
Selenium plays a critical role in reproduction, DNA synthesis, and more, but when it comes to metabolism, selenium is crucial for thyroid function. Your thyroid is the gland in your body that keeps your metabolism humming, and many people find that when their thyroid is off, rapid weight gain often follows.
Since your thyroid is so dependent on selenium, making sure you get enough of this nutrient in your diet is essential, and brazil nuts are an excellent way to do so[*].
In one ounce of almonds (around 23 nuts), you get[*]:
- 164 calories
- 14.2 grams of fat
- 6 grams of protein
- 6 grams of carbohydrates
- 3.5 grams of fiber
- 2.5 net carbs
Almonds are high protein, making them an excellent choice for enhancing satiety. They’re also high in magnesium and vitamin E, which support overall health and weight loss.
In one ounce of almonds, you’ll get 19% of your daily magnesium needs and 45% of your daily vitamin E. While vitamin E is crucial for your cells’ antioxidant protection, magnesium may directly impact weight loss by supporting sleep and improving your body’s insulin response[*][*].
Sleep is vital to weight loss, and imbalanced insulin and glucose can lead to fat storage instead of fat-burning[*].
What’s more, research shows that adding almonds to your diet in place of complex carbohydrates can boost weight loss up to 62%[*].
In one ounce of macadamia nuts (about 10-12 nuts), you get[*]:
- 204 calories
- 21.5 grams of fat
- 2 grams of protein
- 4 grams of carbohydrates
- 2.5 grams of fiber
- 2.5 net carbs
Macadamia nuts are one of the creamiest and richest nuts out there. They make delicious nut butter and can add taste and texture to almost any snack or dessert.
With only 1.5 net carbs per serving and over 21 grams of fat, macadamias are one of the most popular nuts among the keto crowd.
However, much like walnuts, it’s not just the amount of fat in macadamias but the type of fat that makes them special. Walnuts may be your go-to for polyunsaturated fat, but macadamias come packed with monounsaturated fat (MUFAs).
Research shows that when you consume MUFAs, it helps to increase your post-meal fat burning. Furthermore, MUFAs have a thermogenic effect on your body, meaning they boost your metabolic fire. Studies show that even when people eat as much and as often as they want, MUFAs still help them lose weight[*].
In one ounce of cashews, you get[*]:
- 157 calories
- 12.4 grams of fat
- 5 grams of protein
- 8.5 grams of carbohydrates
- 1 gram of fiber
- 7.5 net carbs
While cashews may be a little higher in carbs, they’re also high in protein, making them another great option for enhancing satiety. If you’re following a keto diet and want to incorporate cashews, the best way to get these nuts in is by adding them into a meal or having them with other lower-carb options to balance it out.
With that being said, cashews offer a unique nutrient that is crucial for fat burning — copper. In just one ounce of cashews, you can meet 70% of your daily copper needs, which means even if you just enjoy a few of these nuts here and there, they’ll be contributing significantly to your copper stores[*].
Research shows that copper is a vital element in the breakdown of fat cells and is necessary for your body to be able to use fat cells for energy. Put simply, the more copper there is, the more fat is able to break down[*].
In one ounce of cashews, you get[*]:
- 176 calories
- 17 grams of fat
- 4.2 grams of protein
- 4.7 grams of carbohydrates
- 2.7 gram of fiber
- 2 net carbs
Hazelnuts and hazelnut butter are a go-to in the dessert world. These small, round nuts are packed with flavor and tend to pair perfectly with chocolate.
When it comes to weight loss, hazelnuts are an excellent choice for a couple of reasons. First, just like cashews, hazelnuts offer a significant amount of copper, with one ounce contributing about 25% of your daily copper needs.
Furthermore, hazelnuts are an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, with 70% of your daily needs met in just one ounce[*].
Manganese supports weight loss via a handful of mechanisms. First, manganese is an essential nutrient for thyroid function; without it, you wouldn’t be able to produce the thyroid hormone thyroxin, which plays a role in metabolism, weight, and appetite[*].
Second, due to its role as a cofactor for several different classes of enzymes, manganese is vital for the metabolism of nutrients in your body. In this way, it helps with the breakdown of nutrients so that your body can use them to fuel metabolism, and it’s essential for the production of energy[*].
And finally, manganese is an important component of blood sugar regulation. Manganese is heavily concentrated in the pancreas and plays a role in the production of insulin which is a critical aspect of your body’s ability to use glucose. Low levels of manganese are often found in people with diabetes, and animal research suggests that dietary manganese can protect against diabetes[*].
Nut consumption is indisputably beneficial for weight loss, but that’s not where the health benefits stop. Nuts are particularly supportive for heart health and fighting heart disease.
Some other health benefits of nut consumption include[*]:
- Reducing blood pressure
- Fighting Type 2 diabetes
- Lowering triglycerides
- Lowering inflammation
- Lowering LDL cholesterol levels
- Improving the health of the lining of your arteries
- Reducing the risk of developing blood clots
If you’re looking for ways to get nuts into your diet, aside from just snacking on trail mix, here are some delicious recipe ideas to get you started.
Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts
How can you turn a cup of macadamia nuts into a rich and creamy dessert? Cover them in dark chocolate, of course. A serving size of one-fourth cup of these delicious chocolate-covered macadamia nuts are only 2 net carbs and contain 29 grams of healthy fats.
Perfect Keto Nut Butter Cookies
Perfect Keto Nut Butter is a combination of macadamia nuts, almonds, cashews, coconuts, and MCTs. You can enjoy this nutrient-rich nut butter alone, on a slice of keto bread, or mix it up with some monk fruit, egg, and almond flour and make yourself some keto nut butter cookies.
Chocolate Nut Smoothie Bowl
If you’re a smoothie lover, this chocolate nut smoothie bowl is an excellent way to sneak more nuts into your diet. The recipe calls for macadamia nuts, but you can feel free to mix it up with any of your favorites — walnuts and cashews make great stand-ins.
Nut Butter Popsicles
You don’t see a lot of keto-friendly popsicles out there for one very good reason — most popsicles are basically just frozen sugar. However, that’s not the case with these rich and creamy nut butter popsicles. The recipe calls for Perfect Keto Nut Butter, but if you don’t have any on hand, feel free to use almond butter, cashew butter, or macadamia nut butter.
If you’re craving candy, don’t throw away all your hard work with some low-quality packaged candy bars. These keto buckeyes are no-bake and can be ready in just 20 minutes. Although this recipe calls for almonds, you can take your pick of nuts and nut butter and mix them up if you want.
A handful of nuts not only offers a quick and healthy snack but when you choose to incorporate more nuts into your weight loss plan, the results may surprise you. Nuts are heart-healthy and contain high amounts of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals — making them a crucial aspect of a healthy diet.
What’s more, research shows that nuts can enhance satiety, reduce belly fat, improve metabolism, and have an overall beneficial impact on body weight and obesity. While there are many different types of nuts, some of the healthiest options for weight loss include almonds, macadamias, cashews, Brazil nuts, and walnuts.
What’s more, if you’re looking for superfoods that are packed with hard to come by unsaturated fats, nuts are one of the most accessible options out there.