Have you ever heard people say that nuts are ‘packed with protein’? Well, it’s a lie. If you look at the nutritional value of nuts and seeds, you’ll see that they’re mostly fat (most nuts/seeds are more than 60% fat) and there is much less protein (most are under 15% protein).

The Nutritional Value of Nuts and Seeds

This chart gives you a good overview of the % calories in nuts and seeds from protein and fat, shown on a two-axis graph.

Nutritional Content of Nuts and Seeds

As you can see, most of the commonly-eaten nuts we eat (right hand side of the graph) are over 70% fat.

Yep, 70%.

And those same nuts are all around 15% protein or less.

So, Will Nuts and Seeds Help you Lose Weight?

You may be surprised – the answer is YES.

Eating nuts and seeds is associated with both lower body weight and lower belly fat – or visceral fat – that fat in the abdominal region.

You might be asking – if nuts are full of fat, how can they help me lose weight?

Here’s how.

  1. The fat in the nuts is not fully absorbed
  2. The fat, protein in fibre in nuts makes them filling
  3. Nuts may enhance our ability to burn fat.

Added bonus – nuts can help to lower LDL cholesterol, so they are heart healthy and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Portion Sizes of Nuts and Seeds

The secret to getting health and weight benefits from nuts and seeds is in getting the portion size right.

A healthy portion of nuts or seeds is around 1 – 2 tablespoons per day (total intake ~30 g per day).

Downsize Me Australia

I once had a client who was busy at work, and would eat a whole large packet of potato chips (crisps) while working. He was gaining weight around the middle and feeling lousy.

We had a discussion about nuts being a healthier option, and discussed what a healthy portion size looked like.

But the next time I saw him, he proudly stated that he was eating a whole bag of mixed nuts instead of the chips – and, is it o.k. to eat that many nuts?

The answer is obviously, no!

The easiest way to measure a portion size of nuts and/or seeds is to use a tablespoon.

You could eat nuts and/or seeds on their own as a snack, or as part of a meal, as follows:

  • Toast 1 teaspoon each of sunflower seeds and slivered almonds and sprinkle on a salad our soup
  • Enjoy 1 tbsp 100%* almond butter with sliced apple
  • Add 1 tbsp 100%* peanut butter to coconut milk and a little soy sauce, to make a creamy satay sauce
  • Blend 1 tbsp cashews into your smoothie

Watch out for Allergies

Obviously, some people are allergic to certain nuts and/or seeds, so you will need to learn how to manage your allergy and choose alternatives.

This fact sheet from Nuts for Life may help.

Summary

Nuts and seeds are NOT ‘packed with protein,’ but they are packed with healthy fat, and some protein and fibre to boot.

This makes them a satisfying addition to a healthy diet.

The nuts and seeds have nutritional value and health benefits, including lower LDL cholesterol, lower belly fat and weight loss.

To achieve these health benefits, make sure you eat no more than 2 tablespoons per day.