As I’m working with a couple of people, plus my wife, I see some very common themes. The most common is trying to lose fat. With the summer nearly upon us, and all the potential for pool time, volleyball, barbecues, and time with friends, there’s the vanity side of things of wanting to look good. And there’s the health side of things about wanting to feel good. Thus starts (or restarts) people’s journey to ramp up for the year.
So they start cutting out processed food, eating more veggies, maybe some meat, good fats like coconut oil. Inevitably I get asked what to eat for snacks. Beyond beef jerkey, or maybe hard boiled eggs, nuts are the first thing people gravitate towards. I’ll be the first to admit I like nuts. I buy a huge ass jar of smokehouse flavored almonds at Costco once in awhile, and eat them by the handful. I like those bitter walnuts. Cashews are a gift from God. I like most nuts. Which is one of the reasons I am not at my ideal bodyfat.
Nuts have some health benefits, and taste good. There are some big problems with eating nuts, and if you are trying to lose weight, I’d highly recommend you cut them out or limit them a lot.
- They are very calorically dense. Most nuts are between 150 to 200 calories per ounce. If that is your ‘go to’ snack, it is so damn easy to over indulge. How big is an ounce?
- They are high in Omega 6’s. Though they have many other good things going for them, most standard American diets (SAD) are already overweighted in the omega 6:3 ratio resulting in systematic inflamation. While primal/paleo with veggies, grass fed meat, no soy, and so forth tilt that ratio in the right direction, too many nuts can tilt it back.
- Large amounts of nuts are physically difficult to digest. Humans aren’t really built to digest large quantities of them. Ask an already damaged digestive system to handle large quantities, and you’ll get stress, stress creates cortisol. Cortisol (the stress hormone) wants you to hold onto your fat, thereby making it harder to lose.
Some people handle nuts better than others, but if you are having problems and the rest of your diet is pretty clean, and you’re exercising, sleeping well, and have fairly low stress, check out your nuts 🙂 At a minimum, get a food scale and measure what an ounce looks like, bag them up for snacks rather than eating out of the container. Otherwise, you could be like me and kick nearly an entire wasabi flavored almond container in a single sitting (So dang good though!):
Bottom line: enjoy your nuts, use them as a side portion (on a salad or garnish) or have a MEASURED or WEIGHED ounce or three during the week if you’d like, but don’t use them as your ‘go to’ snack if you are trying to lose weight/fat. If you do, you’re likely sabatoging yourself. If you must eat nuts, get crackalackin’ and get them in a shell. If you’re like me, you’ll find cracking shells gets annoying fast, so you’ll eat less.
Check out the following resources for much better reasoning, science, and information (good and bad) about nuts than I could dream of providing you:
VegSource’s Can’t Lose Weight? Could be the nuts.
Finally, in the vein of weight loss, here’s a few more MDA articles on the subject: