Are nuts fattening or good for weight loss?

Nuts are some of the most nutrient dense foods out there, containing large amounts of vitamins and minerals including vitamin E, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium. They are also very versatile and can either be eaten on their own, used in a variety of recipes or even be added to smoothies such as this one.

Nuts taste great, there are many different types available and they each have their own unique flavour. They also have many health benefits including preventing heart disease and maintaining skin health.

But what about when you are trying to lose weight? Should nuts still be a part of your diet or should they be avoided?

Nutritional information

The table below contains nutritional information for 100 g of various nuts:

Nut Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
Cashews  553  44 g  30 g  3.3 g  18 g
Almonds  576  49 g  22 g  12 g  21 g
Pecans  690  72 g  14 g  10 g  9 g
Walnuts  654  65 g  14 g  7 g  15 g
Brazil nuts  656  66 g  12 g  8 g  14 g
Macadamia nuts  718  76 g  14 g 9 g  8 g
Pine nuts  673  68 g  13 g  3.7 g  14 g
Hazelnuts  628  61 g  17 g  10 g 15 g

The first thing you will probably notice is that nuts are made up of between 40 – 80% fat. This is also the main reason why they are so high in calories. In fact when it comes to calories, they are at the top of the list in our healthy food finder tool.

For example, 100 g of celery has only 16 calories, whereas 100 g of walnuts has 654. This is because celery is made up of 95% water, which has 0 calories. Walnuts are made up of 65% fat, which contains 9 calories per gram.

People often tend to avoid nuts for this reason, especially when they are watching their waistline. But this shouldn’t be the case because when eaten in moderation, they can actually help you manage your weight.

A number of studies have been carried out to determine how nuts affect weight.

This study involved 65 overweight and obese adults, aged between 27 & 79 and they consumed one of two low calorie diets. The first diet included 84 g of almonds per day and was made up of 39% fat and 32% carbohydrate.

The second diet included complex carbohydrates and was made up of 18% fat and 53% carbohydrate. Both diets provided equal amounts of protein and calories. The study found that participants who followed the almond enriched diet ended up with greater reductions in body weight & BMI, waist circumference and fat mass by 9%, 5% and 10% respectively.

Another study involved participants consuming one of two weight loss diets for 12 weeks, both of which provided 500 fewer calories than their resting metabolic rates. Each diet included an afternoon snack, which was either 53 g of salted pistachios (240 calories) or 56 g of salted pretzels (220 calories).

The results showed that both groups ended up losing weight over the 12 week period, but the pistachio group had a larger decrease in BMI and triglyceride levels.

Nuts are very filling and can help to reduce appetite. This is important because overeating is one of the main causes of weight gain.

Besides being high in fat, they also contain significant amounts of protein and dietary fiber, both of which have high satiety.

Studies such as this and this have shown that increasing protein and fiber intake can help with weight loss.

The bottom line is nuts can be part of a weight loss diet, so long as they are eaten in moderation. Eating them in place of certain other foods might even help you lose slightly more weight.

Can nuts be fattening?

Your BMR (or basal metabolic rate) is the number of calories that you burn whilst at rest. Factors such as your weight, height, age and gender determine your BMR.

How active you are also plays a part in determining the number of calories you burn; the more you move around, the more calories you expend. You can use the calculator below to get a rough estimate of the number of calories you should be consuming, depending on your goals.

Gender Age Weight Switch to lbs Height Switch to feet and inches Activity Level

This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.

For example, a 40 year old lady who weighs 180 pounds, is 170 cm tall and exercises twice a week will need to consume approximately 2,100 calories to maintain her weight, 1,700 calories to lose weight and 1,250 calories to lose weight fast.

When you eat more calories than what your body requires to maintain its weight, the excess calories are stored as fat and this in turn leads to weight gain.

Therefore, any food if eaten in abundance can lead to weight gain. However because nuts contain a large number of calories, it is much easier to go overboard with them than it is with most fruits and vegetables.

The lesson here is moderation. Nuts can be enjoyed (even on a daily basis), so long as you don’t eat too many.

1 almond has 7 calories; eating 1 or 2 average sized handfuls daily will provide you with roughly 125 – 250 calories, which is perfectly fine.

Eating 2 whole cups everyday on the other hand will provide you with more than 1,000 calories, which when combined with your other meals will probably lead to a calorie surplus and therefore weight gain over time.


Nuts are delicious & healthy and should not be feared. They can be enjoyed in moderation, even when you are trying to lose weight.

Eating a variety of different nuts including almonds, cashews, pecans, Brazil nuts and walnuts is recommended.

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