A Few Nuts a Day Could Help Prevent Weight Gain Over Time

Increasing daily nut consumption is associated with decreased risk of obesity and weight gain. According to a study, replacing half of your regular dose of harmful foods with nuts may help prevent weight gain over time.

A major, long-term observational research that was just published in the online journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health reveals that increasing nut consumption by just half a serving (14 g or 12 oz) a day is associated with reduced weight gain and a decreased risk of obesity.

The researchers propose a simple method to prevent the progressive weight gain that frequently comes along with aging: swapping half a serving of nuts for unhealthy meals like processed meats, French fries, and chips (potato chips).

US people gain 1lb, or over half a pound, on average per year. Weight gain of 2.5 to 10 kg is associated with a markedly increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Although nuts are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy unsaturated fats, they are also high in calories and are frequently not seen as being beneficial for weight loss. However, new research indicates that the quality of the food consumed may be just as significant as its amount.

READ MORE: 06 Tested Techniques for Losing Weight Without Exercise and Diet

The researchers were interested in learning if weight control may be impacted by recent minor increases in the average nut intake in the US.

Three groups of persons have studied: 121,700 nurses recruited to the Nurses Health Study (NHS), aged 35 to 55; and 116,686 nurses recruited to the Nurses Health Study II, aged 24 to 44. They collected information on weight, food, and physical activity from each group (NHS II).

Over more than 20 years of observation, individuals were questioned every four years about their weight and how frequently they had consumed a serving—28 g or 1 oz—of nuts, including peanuts and peanut butter, during the year prior.

Every two years, a questionnaire was used to analyze the average amount of time spent walking, running, cycling, swimming, playing racquet sports, and gardening. The metabolic equivalent of task (MET) hours was used to quantify the amount of energy (calories) used for each hour of physical exercise.

All three groups saw an average yearly weight increase of 0.32 kg (0.71 lb). In the NHS research, women’s daily nut intake increased from 0.15 to 0.31 servings from 1986 to 2010, whereas it increased from a quarter to slightly under half a serving per day for males. According to the NHS II survey, among women, daily nut consumption increased from 0.07 to 0.31 servings between 1991 and 2011.

Overall, increasing nut consumption was linked to decreased long-term weight gain and a lower chance of developing obesity (BMI of 30 or higher kg/m2).

A decreased risk of gaining 2 or more kg over any 4 years was connected with increasing nut consumption by half a serving daily. And an increase in daily walnut consumption of half a serving was linked to a 15% decreased risk of obesity.

Half a serving of nuts might be substituted for processed meats, refined cereals, or sweets like chocolates, pastries, pies, and donuts to prevent weight gain of between 0.41 and 0.70 kg throughout any four years.

When compared to not eating any nuts, increasing daily nut consumption from zero to at least half a serving was linked to a 16% lower risk of obesity, a lowered risk of moderate weight gain, and a 0.74 kg weight loss deterrent.

And during the same period, a constant greater nut consumption of at least half a serving per day was linked to a 23% decreased chance of gaining 5 or more kg and developing obesity.

No similar correlations were seen for rising peanut butter consumption.

After accounting for dietary and lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise and alcohol use, the findings remained valid.

Since this study is an observational one, causality cannot be determined. Additionally, because only white, relatively well-off health professionals were included, the data’s accuracy may have been impacted by the reliance on personal reports. As a result, the findings might not be relevant to a wider range of people.

However, the researchers highlight that the results are consistent with other observational studies and make an effort to explain the connections they discovered.

They claim that because chewing nuts requires some energy, there is less energy available for other foods. Additionally, nuts’ high fiber content might delay stomach emptying, prolonging satiety and fullness.

They also note that having a nut habit is probably helpful for the environment. They suggest that, in addition to affecting human health, substituting ecologically friendly plant-based proteins like nuts and seeds for animal sources of protein may help to advance a sustainable food system on a global scale.

READ MORE: 5 Necessary Behaviours to Increase Your Weight