Aug 31, 2023

The #1 Best Nut for Weight Loss, According to Registered Dietitians

Look at the ingredients label of a package of nuts, and you may see high calorie and fat content. This may tempt you to nix nuts completely if you're trying to lose weight.

"Nuts contain large amounts of fat and are an energy-dense food, meaning they contain a lot of calories in a small serving," says Michelle Milgrim, RD, MS, RD, CDN, CLC, a registered dietician with Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York. "It would serve to reason that weight gain might be an important consideration with nut intake."

However, Milgrim says nuts are not off the table even if someone wants to lose weight. In fact, a 2021 meta-analysis found people had a 3 to 5 percent reduced risk of developing overweight/obesity with each additional serving of nuts daily.

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"There’s strong evidence that nuts are not associated with weight gain nor an increased risk of obesity," Milgrim says. Confused? Skeptical? A pair of registered dietitians discuss why nuts are an excellent menu item when trying to lose weight—plus their top nut for weight loss.

Related: The Best Nut for Brain Health

Yes. Though nuts are high in calories and fat, dietitians recommend them for people trying to lose weight.

"Fat is a macronutrient which means our bodies need fat just like protein and carbohydrates," says Julia Zumpano, RD, a registered dietitian from Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition.

The type of fat matters, though—and it has benefits far beyond the number on the scale. "Consuming nuts can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease," Milgram says. "Because they’re rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, nuts can help improve serum lipids by reducing LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and total cholesterol."

Zumpano does, however, suggest minimizing the intake of saturated and trans-fats."[These] fats can lead to heart disease, weight gain, obesity, and increased blood pressure and triglycerides," Zumpano says.

If you're nutty for almonds, you're in luck: Milgrim and Zumpano agree it's a great addition to a weight-loss-friendly menu. "Almonds have the highest protein and fiber content," Milgrim shares. Zumpano also emphasizes the protein and fiber in almonds. Generally, she says one 1-ounce serving of almonds has 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

"Protein helps control appetite and build muscle mass," Zumpano explains. "Fiber keeps you full longer and helps stabilizes blood sugars."

Here's what else Zumpano loves about almonds:

Related: The Top Nuts for Hearth Health, According to Cardiologists

Zumpano says a serving size of almonds is usually 1 ounce (about 23 almonds) or 2 tablespoons of natural almond butter. She generally recommends patients stick to that amount daily.

Milgrim agrees that portions are key when consuming almonds and trying to lose weight because adding nuts without reducing caloric intake elsewhere can lead to weight gain. "If you're adding nuts to your diet, be sure to enjoy them in portion-controlled amounts and consider the added nuts in the context of the rest of your diet to avoid excess calorie intake," Milgrim says.

Milgrim typically recommends consuming almonds as a snack.

"As a snack, it makes it a bit easier to control portions since you know you’re consuming a snack rather than a complete meal," Milgrim says. "I’m more likely to grab a snack-sized portion too."

Zumpano also loves almonds as a snack, though there are ways to liven them up if you'd rather not consume them plain. "Almonds can be enjoyed roasted with herbs as a snack," Zumpano shares.

Other almond-centric ideas Zumpano loves include:

Related: 11 Types of Nuts to Mix Into Your Meals

Almonds and almond butter not your jam? No worries. There are other excellent nuts to consume when you're trying to lose weight.

"Generally speaking, all nuts are heart-healthy snack options," Milgrim says. "But, like many food categories, different nuts contain a different mix of nutrients. It’s a good idea to eat a variety of nuts for the greatest benefit, just like eating a variety of colorful vegetables."

Milgrim recommends:

Macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans and peanuts for heart health

Macadamia and hazelnuts for monounsaturated fat

Pistachios for a low-fat option

Brazil nuts for selenium, which may be protective against some cancers, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline

If you're having a hard time losing weight, you're not alone. But some of the advice out there can feel cookie-cutter, so it's helpful to remember that customized support is available. "Seeing a registered dietitian can help jumpstart your efforts to lose weight," Milgrim explains. "A dietitian will help you understand your eating patterns, including diet, in addition to all the things in our lives that impact how or why we eat, and help you identify ways to start making small changes to assist you on your journey."

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Michelle Milgrim, RD, MS, RD, CDN, CLCRelated: The Best Nut for Brain HealthJulia Zumpano, RDThe fat content.Low carb.L-arginine amino acidRelated: The Top Nuts for Hearth Health, According to Cardiologists Related: 11 Types of Nuts to Mix Into Your MealsSuccess!Error!Keep it Clean.PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.Don't Threaten.Be Truthful.Be Nice.Be Proactive.Share with Us.You voted: