Are avocados good or bad for weight loss?
The avocado, believe it or not, is a fruit and not a vegetable. More specifically, it is a berry with a single seed and is native to Mexico (which is probably why guacamole is so popular there). Avocados bring with them a whole host of health benefits, one of them being the ability to help with weight loss and weight management.
The easiest way to lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit, which means you consume fewer calories on a daily basis than you expend. Doing so means that your body ends up using its fat stores as a source of energy, to compensate for the calories that you do not obtain from food. This article explains how many calories you need to consume in a day in order to lose weight at a normal or fast pace.
In general, the best way to do this is to swap unhealthy foods such as those that are processed, for healthier options like fruits and vegetables. Avocados are one of the fruits you would want to include in your diet when trying to lose weight and we will explain why, in the section below.
100 grams (around half an avocado) contains:
Why avocados are good for weight loss
1. They are rich in dietary fiber
As you can see from the table above, 100g of avocado contains 7g of dietary fiber. Fiber has been shown to help with weight loss.
In this study, 240 adults who were overweight and had high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol (also known as metabolic syndrome) volunteered. Half of them were asked to consume 30g or more fiber each day. The other half were asked to follow the American Heart Association’s (AHA) diet for preventing heart disease, which meant they had to eat more vegetables, fruit and lean protein whilst cutting back on sugar, fat, salt and alcohol.
After 12 months, both groups ended up losing weight. On average, the high fiber group lost 2.1 kg whereas the AHA group lost 2.7 kg. Even through the latter group lost slightly more weight, the results showed that by only making a slight change to your diet i.e. increasing fiber intake, you can begin to lose weight.
Even though avocados were not specifically mentioned in this study, it can be assumed that due to their high fiber content, they can have a similar effect as that observed in the study.
2. They keep you fuller for longer
The satiety of a food is defined as how full that food makes you, when you eat it. This study investigated the effect that avocado had on satiety.
26 healthy overweight adults took part and they all consumed a standardized breakfast to begin. For lunch, they consumed one of 3 meals; a meal that did not have any avocado, a meal that had avocado included in it and a meal with half an avocado on the side.
The participants were asked to rate 5 appetite sensations before eating their lunch and also at specific intervals over a period of five hours after having lunch.
The results showed that those participants who had an avocado on the side reported to be up to 26% more satisfied and had a 40% less desire to eat, compared to participants who ate the meal without avocado.
This means that adding avocado to your meals could have a significant effect on the amount of weight you lose. Being fuller for longer means that you are more likely to eat less throughout the day, which in turn could mean you feel less of a desire to snack on unhealthy junk foods.
3. They improve overall diet quality
This study investigated the difference in quality of diet between avocado and non-avocado consumers. The eating habits of 17,567 US adults were analysed; 347 of them were avocado consumers.
The results of the study showed that those who consumed avocado also consumed more fruits and vegetables. Their quality of diet was shown to be much better as they also consumed more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium and vitamin K. Additionally, their sugar intake was noted as being lower.
To add to this, the weight, body mass index and waist circumference of the avocado eaters was noted to be significantly lower. This also meant that the odds ratio for metabolic syndrome was much lower.
The study concluded by stating that the consumption of avocado can lead to a better quality of diet, increased nutrient intake and a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.
4. They can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
Avocados are a source of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which are a type of “good fat“. 100 g of avocado contains a whopping 15 g of fat, but 10 g of that is monounsaturated fat. The consumption of MUFA has been associated with the lowering of LDL cholesterol 1, 2, 3
This study investigated the effect that consuming avocado had on LDL cholesterol. 45 overweight or obese individuals were asked to consume 1 of 3 cholesterol lowering diets, for 5 weeks. Diet 1 was a low fat diet (fat made up 24% of total calories). Diet 2 was a moderate fat diet (fat made up 34% of total calories) and included one fresh Hass avocado. Diet 3 was also a moderate fat diet (again, fat made up 34% of total calories) but instead of an avocado, high oleic acid oils were used to match the fatty acid content of the avocado.
The results showed that even though the LDL cholesterol levels of all 3 groups fell, the LDL cholesterol of the avocado consumers fell by almost double the amount of the other 2 groups.
Overweight and obese individuals are more likely to have higher levels of bad cholesterol. Lowering your levels of bad cholesterol may not necessarily mean you lose weight, however doing so does mean you lower your chances of suffering from a stroke, heart attack or diabetes.
How to add avocado to your diet
Many people, especially those who are trying to lose weight, may be concerned about adding avocados to their diet due to the large amount of fat and calories they contain, compared to other healthy foods. However, the thing you want to keep in mind is to make smart substitutions whilst staying in a calorie deficit.
For example, 1 medium sized bagel contains 245 calories. For those 245 calories, you get very little from a nutrition standpoint. It is high in sodium, sugar & refined carbohydrate and low in vitamins, minerals and good fats.
1 cup of avocado on the other hand contains the same amount of calories but has 40 times less sodium and 6 times less sugar.
So if your daily breakfast consists of a bagel with cream cheese, a healthier and weight loss friendly option would be to try our avocado and eggs on toast instead.
Here are some other great ways you can enjoy avocado:
1. Homemade guacamole
Guacamole is a dip made from avocados that was first created by the Aztecs. If you are a fan of Mexican food, you will have most likely tried this tasty and filling dip.
The only problem is that store bought guacamole can come full of unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients (preservatives, additives and extra salt). Sometimes store bought guacamole doesn’t even include any avocados in it, but is made up of artificial flavourings!
A better option is to make your own guacamole at home so you can decide exactly what goes in it. It’s extremely easy to make and tastes much better. The main ingredients of guacamole are avocados (you might have guessed?), an onion, lemon juice, tomatoes, garlic, pepper and mixed herbs. These ingredients are not set in stone, guacamole is very versatile and you can add or remove ingredients as you choose.
Below is one healthy recipe that you can use:
Guacamole can be used as a dip for celery & carrots or spread over salads.
2. Avocado based salads
Salads in general are great for people who are trying to lose weight because they are low in calories and rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. However, some people may find that salads are not filling enough. A great way to fix this is to add an avocado. There are many different avocado salad recipes out there, I have included a delicious one below:
The great thing about smoothies is that you can mix and match a lot of different ingredients – fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and various liquids to make them.
I am a huge fan of smoothies and usually have at least one a day, either for breakfast or as a bedtime snack. One ingredient that I love to include in my smoothies is avocado; it goes really well with other ingredients because the creamy texture helps thicken up what would be an otherwise watery smoothie.
A smoothie in general should be made up of a base liquid such as almond milk or coconut water, vegetables such as kale or spinach, fruit such as a banana or avocado and nuts & seeds such as chia seeds or almonds. Here is an avocado based smoothie I am sure you will love:
Avocados are great for weight loss as they are rich in fiber and monounsaturated fat. That being said, they are also high in calories so you do not want to go overboard with them.
Having half an avocado on a daily basis is fine, and you could increase this amount depending on your calorie consumption requirements. But one thing is certain, having an avocado instead of junk food will definitely help your weight loss efforts!