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5 Healthy Nuts for Weight Loss (Verified by a Dietician)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

Nuts are nutrient-dense and fibrous, which makes them a good tool for losing weight. But one question I often get from clients is whether all nuts are ideal for weight loss.

I know which ones proved to be particularly beneficial in my professional experience, but I wanted to dive into research and get a second opinion to be sure exactly which ones boost weight loss the most.

So I consulted a professional dietician and went over scientific literature to build on what I know about nuts and how they help burn abdominal fat.

Here are the findings.

Quick Summary

  • Walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, peanuts, and pistachios are examples of nuts that might help with fat loss and promote healthy body weight.
  • Most nuts contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats that can help reduce belly fat in both men and women.
  • The best time to eat nuts for weight loss is on an empty stomach in the morning.

Will Eating Nuts Help You Burn Belly Fat?

A variety of nots on spoons

Yes, eating nuts can help you burn belly fat as a part of a general weight loss plan.

Multiple studies have proven that nuts help the overweight to reduce their overall body fat percentage, which includes stomach fat [1].

Another one found that supplementing nuts with peanut oil resulted in a 5% boost in calorie burning.

The studies noted that the difference occurred mainly among the overweight [2].

In another research comparing walnuts to a meal with fat from dairy sources, scientists found that participants who ate walnuts burned 28% more calories [3].

"People who eat more nuts weigh less and have less belly fat than those who don't eat them as often.” - Kim Yawitz, Registered Dietitian

Now, let's examine what makes nuts a great addition to your weight loss diet.

Why They’re Good for Weight Loss

A person eating nuts in a bowl

Not long ago, fats were considered an enemy to losing weight and general health. This was a belief shared by the scientific community as well. But more studies have since proven otherwise.

To cut the story short, scientists later discovered that the type of fat and how you eat it determines if you’ll continue to add to your waistline or lose weight.

This brings us to our first point.

They Contain Healthy Fats

Studies by the Harvard School of Health have revealed that most nuts contain unsaturated fats (monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat), which are generally known as “good fat” [4].

Consuming unsaturated fat common in nuts is unlikely to lead to visceral fat accumulation (abdominal fat), a characteristic that is traditionally attributed to saturated fat [5].

Keep in mind that some recent studies are forcing the scientific community to realize that the health impact of saturated fat is much more nuanced than previously thought [6].

These studies show no correlation between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease. But no matter the cause, abdominal fat storage is still a risk factor for metabolic disorders.

A 2014 study revealed that consumption of polyunsaturated fat (the kind found in most nuts) promotes muscle gain over abdominal fat accumulation. Surprisingly, even when consumed in excess, the results were still similar [7].

Another analysis also found that consuming monounsaturated fatty acids decreased body weight, body mass index, and waist circumference in obese women [8].

According to a study by the Harvard School of Health, monounsaturated fats can be found in significant amounts in:

  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia
  • Cashew nuts
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Peanuts

On the other hand, polyunsaturated fats are dominant in:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Walnuts

They Promote Satiety

Close up shot of a sack of nuts

Nuts don’t just contain healthy sources of fats; they also promote satiety or the feeling of fullness.

This way, they help limit calorie intake, which is crucial in preventing abdominal fat accumulation.

In particular, studies have revealed that walnuts, peanuts, and almonds promote satiety (being full) and, thus, can reduce meal times during the day and cravings for unhealthy junk food [9].

Scientists have pegged this satiety effect on nuts’ high protein and unsaturated fat content [10].

They Can Stimulate Fat Loss Through Lower Fat Absorption

According to scientists, some nuts, like peanuts, have a lower absorption rate of their fat content, so they pass through the digestive system with some residual fat intact that gets excreted through fecal matter [11].

This is good for losing weight since it prevents excess fat from being absorbed.

They Promote Calorie Burning

Close up shot of nuts on a table

Studies have found a calorie-burning property in nuts, such as walnuts, in that they increase energy expenditure and stimulate fat oxidation.

In particular, the studies found that walnuts were particularly efficient in promoting calorie burning by up to 28% just 5 hours after a meal [3].

Burning more calories prevents the conversion of excess food into fat and the accumulation of the same.

You now have a better grasp on why nuts can help you rapidly lose weight and trim that stomach fat. But let’s get a bit more specific.

5 Nuts That Help Reduce Belly Fat

A variety of nuts on a table

You already have an idea of good nuts that will help you lose weight, particularly the visceral fat stores under your belly.

But there are some nuts that can help you lose weight more quickly than others. Here are some of them.

1. Walnuts

Earlier, we saw that walnuts’ heart-healthy unsaturated fats property is beneficial for weight loss.

Scientists from the Harvard School of Health have associated unsaturated fat with blood cholesterol level improvements (good cholesterol) and reduction in inflammation [4].

Walnuts also promote fullness and prevent unhealthy cravings. Notably, the presence of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins in walnuts suppresses hunger and aids in more weight loss [12].

Additional research on omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts found the property particularly useful in the reduction of body fat [13].

In addition, walnuts also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases [14].

Hence, adding a handful of walnuts to your weight loss diet can help stimulate fat loss and promote a healthy body weight.

2. Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts come loaded with proteins and fiber, which are essential for weight loss [15].

But the best part about Brazil nuts is that they contain L-arginine [16].

L arginine is an amino acid with multiple benefits in the fat-burning process [17]. This makes the Brazil nut one of the best nuts for weight loss and a great addition to your diet.

3. Almonds

Close up shot of almonds in a sack

Almonds have the highest protein and fiber content among tree nuts.

Dietary fiber contributes to the sensation of fullness, and protein promotes the growth of muscle, which helps in losing weight [18].

In addition to the proteins, almonds also contain heart-healthy fats, and antioxidants, all of which stimulate weight loss [19].

They also contain L-arginine, an amino acid that helps burn fat faster [20].

In addition to losing belly fat, almonds also promote gut health by promoting the survival of beneficial gut bacteria known as lactobacillus [21].

Eating 3-5 almonds daily is associated with higher fat metabolism and can help you lose weight. You shouldn’t eat too much of them, especially raw bitter almonds, as they can be quite dangerous in higher quantities.

“Bitter almonds contain a toxin known as glycoside amygdalin. When eaten, this toxin gets broken down into several compounds, including hydrogen cyanide — a toxic compound that can cause death.”

- Alina Petre, MS, RD

4. Peanuts

Peanuts are protein-rich; a property that promotes the feeling of fullness [22].

In an experiment examining the effect of peanuts, over 200 participants who ate peanuts snacks consumed fewer calories during the rest of the day than those who did not [23].

Peanuts also promote the loss of fat through fecal matter, which we established earlier in this article.

5. Pistachios

Close up shot of Pistachios on a bowl

Pistachio nuts contain proteins that can help keep you full for long [24].

Protein is key to losing weight naturally. Its benefits in muscle building and fat burning are well known.

Pistachios also contain monounsaturated fats, which have long been proven to boost weight loss.

Like almonds and walnuts, pistachios are also good for your heart. They can help regulate blood sugar levels after a meal.

Studies comparing participants in a weight loss program who ate pistachios with others who did not, found a significant reduction in blood pressure and increased blood antioxidant levels in participants who consumed the nut [25].

Other healthy nuts that are good for weight loss include:

  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia
  • Cashew nuts

These nuts possess health benefits besides their ability to help you lose weight.

For optimal results in fat burning, nuts work well with a healthy diet and physical activity.

FAQs

When Should You Eat Nuts to Lose Weight?

To lose weight, you should eat nuts in the morning on an empty stomach, preferably before a workout. Nuts are rich in proteins and other essential nutrients that can keep you feeling full and energized throughout the day.

Do Nuts Cause Weight Gain and Abdominal Fat?

No, nuts do not cause weight gain and abdominal fat when consumed in moderation. On the contrary, they promote fullness which aids in weight loss and, consequently, the reduction of belly fat.

Which Are the Best Nuts to Eat for Weight Loss on a Ketogenic Diet?

The best nuts to eat for weight loss while on a ketogenic diet are Brazil nuts and Macadamia because they have low carbs per serving. Almonds and walnuts should be taken in moderation.

Complement Nuts With Regular Exercises and a Healthy Diet for Optimal Results

Nuts contain heart-healthy fats that promote the shedding of belly fat and body fat in general.

More importantly, they promote satiety, so you don't have to starve yourself to hit those calorie-deficit targets.

For best results, you should complement nuts with regular exercises and a high-quality fat burner to fast-track your progress.

We’ve extensively tested the products on this list. And both our testing data and client reports show they are both safe and effective for rapid and healthy weight loss.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20439557
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16704951
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19010571
  4. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4424543/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34796724/ 
  7. https://www.uu.se/en/news/article/?id=3233
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4653532/
  9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/oby.2009.409
  10. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/100/suppl_1/412S/4576547
  11. https://www.nature.com/articles/0803735
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18602429/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7019815/
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29931130/
  15. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-brazil-nuts
  16. https://www.webmd.com/diet/top-foods-high-in-arginine
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20437186/
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4500840/
  19. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269468
  20. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323259
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24315808
  22. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325003
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21808728
  24. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/benefits-pistachios
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7400898/
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