View Full Version : Geez - No wonder why nuts, despite high their caloric value, don't pack on the pounds

Fenthis Glusos
12-07-2008, 07:35 PM
To sum it up: About half of the fat (and protein, carbs) found it nuts turn out to be poorly absorbed by the body yielding the total caloric value of nuts to be half of what their label states.

I definitely feel this to be true as I eat a TON of nuts and no matter what, they don't cause any weight gain on me, when they should considering my daily average +1,000 calorie intake of them (after reading the article it seems to be more like 500 calories now)

One ounce of raw almonds (about 23 nuts) contains:

6 grams protein

14 grams fat

6 grams carbohydrate

3.5 grams fiber

For a total of 163 calories per ounce.

(From the USDA Nutrient Database)

Calorie content of foods is determined by summing up the calories from each constituent: 1 gram of fat = 9 calories; 1 gram protein = 4 calories; 1 gram carbohydrate = 4 calories. Calorie content can also be directly measured using a device called a burn calorimeter, in which the amount of energy released from a specific food is measured by literally burning it and gauging precisely how much energy is released.

The problem with both of these methods is that it is assumed that all foods are digested with equal efficiency. That is, it assumes that a potato chip is as readily digested and absorbed as energy from table sugar, a pretzel, oatmeal, a piece of steak, or a handful of nuts. In real life, of course this is not true. Different foods are absorbed with varying efficiency.

For a long time I've suspected that some foods are very inefficiently absorbed. I've particularly suspected that raw nuts are relatively poorly absorbed and thus yield only a fraction of the calories ingested.

Among the studies recently reported at the Federation of the Association of Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) meetings I attended in San Diego this past week were several devoted to almonds.

One study, to my surprise, documented this phenomenon. In Manipulation of lipid bioaccessibility of almonds influences postprandial lipemia in healthy human subjects, it was determined that, of 100 calories ingested from the fat fraction of almonds, only about half was actually absorbed. The remaining half passed out in the stool. (They did this by collecting stool samples and comparing the fat composition after eating the different almonds prepartions. This is not discussed in the limited text of the abstract.) In addition, postprandial (after-eating) surges in triglycerides were much less with whole almonds compared to the oil separated from the nut (i.e., broken down into almond oil + defatted almond flour). The researchers attributed the difference to the inhibitory effects of the almond nut's "food matrix," or the structural properties of chewed foods.

Add to this the fact that, of 6 grams of carbohydrate per ounce of whole almonds, 3.5 grams are indigestible fibers. This means that 6 - 3.5 = 2.5 grams of digestible carbohydrates are present per ounce (assuming 100% release).

If we follow the reasoning that only about half the fat fraction of almonds are absorbed, and assume that the protein and carbohydrate (minus the indigestible fibers) are absorbed efficiently (100%), then we would re-calculate the calorie content of almonds to be 97 calories per ounce, or 40% less than calories calculated by composition or measured with a calorimeter.

If we were to assume that protein and carbohydrates were, like fats, inefficiently absorbed because of the effects of the food matrix, then one ounce of almonds yields 88 calories per ounce, or 46% less. This is, in fact, a likely scenario, since the food matrix is largely created by the cell wall and should impede digestive access to fat, protein, and carbohydrate equally.

My point? Almonds and other nuts at first appear to be calorically dense due to fat composition. However, this simplistic view of nuts is misleading because of the confounding effects of the food matrix. Stated differently: Whole foods yield less calories. And, judging by the postprandial triglyceride effects: Whole foods yield less undesirable effects, such as postprandial rises in triglycerides.

Some other observations with almonds included:

The effect of almonds on plasma lipids in persons with prediabetes This study confirmed the LDL-reducing and modest HDL-raising effects of almonds.

Almonds (Amygdalus communis L.) as a possible source of prebiotic functional food This curious observation suggests that almonds modify the bacterial flora of the intestinal tract in a positive way (like the cultures in yogurts).



George Mounce
12-07-2008, 07:50 PM
Not to get gross, but I do notice with high nut/seed consumption, stools tend to be much looser because of higher fat content in them. I would have to agree with your assessment from a purely subjective point of view.

Chris Salvato
12-07-2008, 08:38 PM
Quite interesting!

I think this takes things to the next level in a few ways -- and the only people this REALLY hurts are the "calorie counters" like those on the zone because it messes with their "calculated activity levels" and things of that nature.

Good news for the rest of us interested in Caloric Restriction, though. CR on a whole has some amazing benefits, and when you mix in Paleo [whole] foods that should share this attribute (i'm kind of speculating here..) we are a step ahead of the rest.

More good news is that this "unabsorbed" fat just acts as fiber -- another buffer between our blood and the glucose that will cause insulin spike.

I can't help but think that this study was started by someone eating a bunch of nuts, and like me, notices huge chunks of nuts in their BM. I guess it only stands to reason that these nuts being passed were not absorbed -- but now it is nice having that quantified a bit...I am just glad I wasn't the one who had to sort through the shit.

Tony Ferous
12-08-2008, 01:22 AM
Good post!
I think people are often lazy in chewing almond so that also contributes i think. I often grind my almonds because of this, im sure it makes them more digestable.
Some folk also soak them overnight.

Gittit Shwartz
12-08-2008, 05:48 AM
I'd like to add as a caveat that this does NOT apply to nut butters :D

Garrett Smith
12-08-2008, 05:55 AM
I've been saying this about nuts (and seeds) for a while. I like the new term "food matrix" -- um, it's called "fiber"...

I use another (similar) analogy with swallowing rocks for minerals to illustrate the massive difference between "ingestion" and "absorption". Rocks would be great sources of minerals, but we can't break them down and absorb them, so they become next to useless.

The reliance of Zone dieters on nuts is staggering, it may be a major cause of the excessive lean tissue loss that some experience.

Mike ODonnell
12-08-2008, 06:13 AM
Not to get gross, but I do notice with high nut/seed consumption, stools tend to be much looser because of higher fat content in them. I would have to agree with your assessment from a purely subjective point of view.

I could get gross about the last time I chowed a bag of salted cashews.....and I don't eat nuts often....but lets just say not good for a few days...thought I was having a hemorrhoid flareup.....high itch factor....not good.....won't happen again that's for sure.

Darryl Shaw
12-08-2008, 06:55 AM
Frequent nut consumption is associated with lower rates of coronary artery disease (CAD). Also, nut-rich diets improve the serum lipid profile of participants in dietary intervention trials. However, nuts are fatty foods, and in theory their regular consumption may lead to body weight gain. Because obesity is a major public health problem and a risk factor for CAD, clinicians and policy makers ponder several questions. Will hypercholesterolemic patients advised to consume nuts gain weight? Is recommending increased nut consumption to the general population for CAD prevention sound public health advice? Epidemiologic studies indicate an inverse association between frequency of nut consumption and body mass index. In well-controlled nut-feeding trials, no changes in body weight were observed. Some studies on free-living subjects in which no constraints on body weight are imposed show a nonsignificant tendency to lower weight while subjects are on the nut diets. In another line of evidence, preliminary data indicate that subjects on nut-rich diets excrete more fat in stools. Further research is needed to study the effects of nut consumption on energy balance and body weight. In the meantime, the available cumulative data do not indicate that free-living people on self-selected diets including nuts frequently have a higher body mass index or a tendency to gain weight.


Mike ODonnell
12-08-2008, 07:00 AM
more fat in stools could also mean loss of more fat soluble vitamins....vit D, A, etc...you know all those ones.

Someone can order this book and let me know what the "honerable" nut guy says
Among the most dangerous dietary advice currently rendered by these institutions is the recommendation to eat nuts. Not only are nuts being promoted as nutritious foods, but also as food with health promoting properties—eating them, purportedly, improves one’s health. This nonsense is pervasively pushed in the media via published reports from notable institutions, such as Harvard and Penn State universities. As a result, nuts are being catapulted to greater prominence in the human food chain. This is an act that is sure to do greater harm than good. Why?

According to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, nuts are unfit for humans and consuming them deals a tremendous blow to the human lifespan. He states that every time we eat nuts, five years are shaved from our life spans. Either this is exaggerative or it can be proven. Research into the biochemical constituents of nuts have confirmed them unfit for our consumption. Nuts contain potent poisons. The problem is that the dietary advice of most, if not all, nutritionists is not based upon biochemical and biological analyses. Either they are unaware of this information, or simply choose to follow assumptions that have never been proven. There is greater proof that nuts are harmful than there is that they are beneficial.

The extraordinary negative impact that nuts render against human life deserves our attention. The thought that a mere serving of nuts erases five years from our lifespan implies that the results of their consumption are connected to leading chronic diseases. Such diseases include cancer, heart disease, and diabetes—the leading causes of early mortality. Thyroid disease, depression, osteoporosis and menopause are also linked to nut consumption.

In the end....I listen to my body...and it doesn't really crave or react well to nuts....so I stay away for the most part.

Fenthis Glusos
12-08-2008, 07:53 AM
Someone can order this book and let me know what the "honerable" nut guy says

Keep in mind that Mr.Muhammad there also preaches against the consumption of raw vegetables as well because they're somehow 'unfit' for human consumption. Strange because nuts and raw greens are perfectly halal (fine to eat) in Islam, but then again, this guy seems to be apart of the nation of islam variety and by prohibiting their consumption is acting against the word of Allah.

All of this stuff is really ridiculous though.

If we go by what all these 'researchers' tell us, then the only food fit for human consumption are fruits but that we should still 'limit their intake'

1) Vegetables are bad because we kill the plant
2) Nuts are bad because they cause cancer and slaves ate them
3) Legumes are bad because of toxins
4) Grain is bad because it causes diabetes and obesity
5) Dairy is bad because it leeches minerals out of your body
6) Fruit is fine because we propagate their species through seed dissemination, but too much may disrupt blood sugar levels


I guess it is time to just eat right to minimize damage - guess there's no such thing as super-foods only less damaging ones.

Garrett Smith
12-08-2008, 07:54 AM
I'm taking the "more fat in stools" number to be that the stool analysis fully "digested" and found the fat in the stools that was bound up in the unchewed "food matrix" aka fiber.

Much more fat was being absorbed from the nuts than was being excreted, as far as I can tell.

Quote from the full review that Darryl posted:
Fecal fat loss because of incomplete mastication of nuts or other factors may result in a loss of available energy. Earlier work has shown that whole nuts are inefficiently absorbed (40). Subjects fed whole peanuts excreted 17% of dietary fat in the stool; only 4–7% of dietary fat was excreted when the rats were fed peanut butter (40). On a well-controlled feeding trial with pecans (19), there was increased excretion of fat in the stools of subjects while on the nut diet (25 g/d) compared with the control diet (6 g/d). This represented 8% and 3%, respectively, of the dietary fat of the pecan and control diets (41). Increased stool fat was also noted on a high almond diet (42), but the increment of percent fat in stools (4%) was less than on the pecan (41) and peanut (40) diets. Nevertheless, the losses of fat in stools of nut eaters combined with the observed food displacement would largely explain the lack of weight gain.

I personally found the bolded part (noted by Darryl in a previous post) to seem rather misleading--as in, implying that nuts cause major fat excretion in the stools--in light of the above quote, which is likely where that sentence was intended to "summarize".

If this is true...
He states that every time we eat nuts, five years are shaved from our life spans.
we should all be dead by now. That's just garbage to sell books.