Friday, 1 February 2013


I like Nuts but they are not something I have really made an effort to have in my diet. However I think may have under-estimated the importance of nuts in lowcarb eating. Severely.

I ran an experiment today where I tried to eat 100g of plain unblanched almonds, which is only about 611 calories. Anyway, I got to 70g and , MY GOD, I was absolutely dying. I couldn't believe how satiating they were, I really had to force myself to eat more and it got actually a bit unpleasant.  I stopped at 80g.

I couldnt make it to 100g. -> EPIC FAIL. ( well in my defense I had already had my main meal of the day just before of sausages and eggs, but since I only eat once per day I still had room for plenty more calories )

My Motivation for Nuts!? was recently spurred after reading a paper about how a low-calorie diet ( not something I recommend btw ) that consisted of almonds instead of complex carbs produced significantly better weight  loss.

In this study humans were assigned a 1000 calorie diet per day for 24 weeks of which either 513 calories came from either almonds, or self-selected complex carbs  (peas, corn, potato, pasta, rice, etc). Here is a table of the macro-nutrient breakdown...

Right ok, so remember what you learnt at the paleo guru website? a calorie is a calorie right? You know the score, all that counts is calories, so the subjects should lose the same amount of weight. Here is the graph showing weight loss....

So as you can see, the subjects on both diets lost the same amount of  weig....... er okay nevermind about that bit. Onwards!

Heres what the researchers say........

The CHO-LCD group reached a plateau at week 16, similar to the onset of plateaus shown while using intermittent and continuous sibutramine therapy. Meanwhile, the almond-LCD group experienced a sustained and greater weight reduction for the duration of the 24-week intervention.

Infact the almond group finished with a 62% greater reduction in BMI at the end of the study, including a 50% greater reduction in waist circumference. Now the researchers have to figure out what happened. heres what they think...

higher fat diets may be more satiating than lower fat diets containing high glycemic index foods. Others have noted that unanticipated weight loss occurs in controlled feeding trials featuring the inclusion of nuts under isocaloric conditions.
The fiber matrix of the nut may have compromised the absorption of the fat from the almonds yielding an imbalance of energy sources between the groups. These data suggest that the greater weight loss observed in almond consumers may have been secondary to greater satiety and the lower bioavailability of calories from nuts 

Above all, the almond group experienced a significant reduction in fasting insulin compared to the complex carb group ( 54% greater reduction ) which was probably the true cause of the weight loss. What I personally find so astonishing is the weight loss plaeteu did not occur in the almond group, only in the complex-carb group, Infact if you look at the weight loss graph, it appears the almond group where still losing weight at the end of the study.

So anyway, if youve recently signed up to Dan's Plan, you might want to consider plain unblanched almonds instead of plain boiled potatoes. You might also want to consider cancelling your subscription because this almond study is available at Nature's obesity journal full text for free.

high-Nuts!?  bitcheez!    

thats where its at.

Or maybe,        just maybe,        low-insulin is where its at.

On a more serious note, I found some other interesting spin-offs from the almond paper.

  • Replacing 500 calories of your diet with peanuts increases resting energy expenditure by 11% ( link )
  • 10-15% of the energy in nuts is wasted due to processing and/or poor bio-availability ( link )

Another study published recently actually showed very slightly better weight loss in a dieting group that did NOT consume nuts compared to the group that were given 56g almonds per day. So as always in obesity research, its not too hard to find conflicting data. However I think this study has limitations, because the participants were given less strict advice about what their diet should be, where-as in the study in the top of this post, participants were given a specific diet formula, meaning they did not have to think about what to eat and probably resulted in higher compliance. Also the Almond consumption was higher in the first study, 84g per day vs 54g per day here.

Either way, I like nuts. And will start eating more of them. they are very low in the glycemic and insulin index even if some varieties contain some carbs/starch. Personally I cant stand macadamia nuts I hate the taste, but I will include almonds, brazil nuts, and cashews.

I cant believe it, 10 years after discovering atkins I am only now discovering the brilliance of nuts. duh!


  1. hurrah!!! hope they work great for you! :-) i love nuts (of all kinds) and i need to measure out portions for myself because they're so easy for me to overeat.

  2. Kindke, I've been reading your blog since last summer, thanks for the work.

    I have lost close to 50 lbs in 14 months and have the dreaded "Last 20" (slightly less) to go now. I've been concerned I've been overdoing the nuts in the last 3 months, especially wondering if the PUFA content might increase adipocyte insulin sensitivity. I tend to go for macadamia, pecans, and almonds, with occasional peanuts.

    Anyway, lately I've gravitated towards a little cream in the coffee in the morning, some butter on a small piece of WASA crisp in the afternoon, nuts when I get home to hold me until dinner if I am hungry, since we do eat late, and then lchf dinner. Last week three days in a row I overdid the nuts a bit with 2-3 extra ounces, and each evening I ended up feeling too full to eat any dinner so just had a piece of Hyperlipid "butter-chocolate" and went to bed. Imagine if I had eaten french fries instead of nuts.

    1. Yes nuts do contain some PUFA/omega6. "Slightly" worrying but one thing that seems to be persistent in nutrition is that isolated food stuffs produces different affects than the same food stuffs consumed in whole foods. For example I reckon corn oil would produce significantly different affects than a similar amount of omega6 from nuts. Although omega6 is obesogenic, nuts are not associated with obesity, and infact its just the opposite.

      A similar thing can be observed with honey vs isolated sucrose. Despite honey being basically pure sugar, it is extremely anti-hyperphagic.

      I definitely subscribe to the "whole-foods" cult religion.

      And yup I too find nuts immensely satiating.

    2. Here's the thing for me about nuts, I can start eating them and find myself quickly grabbing for more -- not good -- and then I wonder why I felt a pull to eat the extra, something that doesn't really happen to me with other low carb, high fat foods. But if I do grab for a decent amount more, I often find myself feeling very full 20-30 minutes later with an effect lasting for 6-8 hours.

    3. Nuts promote favorable insulin responses. They are actually rich in monosaturates most of all not PUFA. They also contain fiber and minerals that help insulin responses.

      I find low carb / paleo darling food like 100% saturated coconut prompts over eating and insulin reactions much more than peanuts or almonds, which always help me control weight. I keep eating coconut stupidly and observe skin breakouts and unstable blood sugar for my efforts.

  3. I often have trouble to stop eating nuts if I start.

    1. Galina in my experience I respond this way to any novel food, and it is totally normal to eat more of something that tastes good and is novel. However if you incorporate the food every day it no longer promotes over eating. Unlike high carb junk food, the over eating has a begining and an end because ultimately nuts promote satiety and not hyperinsulinemia. Contrast to cookies or cake or bread where the over eating is only as limited as your fat tissue growth and insulin production.

    2. Nuts tend to be quite "more-ish" in the initial phase when you start eating, no different to most foods I think especially if your very hungry. But nuts quickly become satiating.

  4. Kindke: the secret to my maintenance!
    Peanuts, almonds, etc.

    My calorie intake for today:

    1900 calories
    147 grams of fat
    69 carbohydrates with 26 gm fiber (43 net)
    95 grams protein

    Of that, I consumed:
    28gm peanuts
    50 gm almonds
    16 gm macadamias
    10gm flax seeds

    This is fairly typical. Virtually every day I consume at least 3 ounces of nuts.

    The down side to nut eating is that when your blood sugar is unstable it helps pile on weight QUICK.

    Kindke the reason I feel nuts help so much is because in addition to perfect ketogenic ratios, nuts contain many micronutrients that helps with abnormal glucose tolerance.

    They are high in magnesium, which helps with insulin control. When I began eating nuts it was like I magically felt happier and my hypoglycemia was better. It was not until several years later I learned this is how I respond to magnesium supplementation, and likely have higher magnesium requirements.

    They are also high in fiber and contrary to low carb mockery I do notice fiber helps with my glucose tolerance probably an effect of SCFA fermentation.

    Nuts can do what other low carb foods such as cheese just can't do, in spite of nutrient profiles being otherwise similar. I eat nuts because they make me feel good.

    I find nuts with a slightly higher protein content to work better, like peanuts and almonds. Macadamias are less satiating for me probably because of a low protein and lower fiber content. Again as I wrote before protein has to be like baby bears porridge, just right - too little or too much = hungries. The higher protein nuts and legumes are superior.

  5. T agree, nuts are very "moorish" after a break. I also like filberts and pine-nuts. The most problematic for me to stop eating - roasted unsalted sunflower seeds.

  6. +1. Love nuts, but not so much when it's laced with vegetable oil/MSG. Then I eat a whole jar and still get the shakeys,

  7. Some nut facts
    - there are pre-biotics, including lipids in almonds
    - a significant greater amount of the energy from almonds - 20% - is not actually absorbed compared to other foods (this will be why there's weight loss in isocaloric trials)

    these were references to almonds, but no reason most other nuts wouldn't be similar.

    Credit where it's due, bad fairy Carbsane had the bright idea that Spreadbury's "acellular carbohydrate" hypothesis might also apply to lipids. It might happen that Linoleic acid in a phospholipid might be less problematic that the same fatty acid in triglyceride form, amongst other things. We see something similar comparing krill oil to fish oil.

    1. oh nice find, that makes me even more convinced that almonds might be one of the most perfect weight loss foods. Highly satiating, reduced calorie absorption, and prebiotic fibre.

  8. Loved this post :). And yes, nuts are awesome. There are some varieties I don't like as much as others and some I can't portion well, but almonds/pecans/macadamias? Sign me up!

  9. VERY interesting weight loss results. from a nutritional perspective, I think almonds are wild (eg,

  10. Only to add the minor nitpicking point that peanuts are not nuts but legumes, therefore a type of bean. I found them rather filling and satisfying too, and daily consumption is moderated too, once you eat them regularly and get used to them as ItstheWoo suggests. Excellent blog by the way

  11. Fascinating post. Consequently, I replaced my daily nut quotient of macadamias with almonds today - surprisingly, they're way more satiating. How did it take me 2 years to realise this? Must be the fibre. Hmmm