The Skinny on Weight Management
- Just 30g of almonds a day can offer a lot to your clients who are trying to shed a few pounds. With that light, buttery flavour and satisfying crunch, it almost feels like a bonus that almonds also deliver an impressive nutrient package. Almonds are a simple, nutritious snack to have at the ready to combat cravings for sugar-laden alternatives. Almonds fit nicely into weight management plans because they are nutrient-rich, providing great nutrition content relative to calories.
- A handful of almonds is considered a good fit with many popular weight-loss plans.
- They contain 15 essential nutrients, so when your clients reach for almonds between meals to curb cravings, they are getting the nutrients they need in a crunchy and flavorful snack they can feel good about.
- In fact, a 30g serving (about 23 almonds) is high in fibre and monounsaturated fat in addition to being high in 9 essential nutrients, including vitamin E and calcium.
- Almonds are also a natural source of protein, delivering 6g of protein per 30g serving, and high in monounsaturated fat, the healthy fat emphasized in the Mediterranean diet.
- A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that about 20% of the calories found in almonds are not available for digestion or absorption due to the rigid cell walls. Thus, it is thought that per 30g serving, we only digest about 138 calories. That’s a caloric difference of 20%. (Learn more here…*)
- A recent study* from Leatherhead Food Research reveals that eating almonds as a mid-morning snack made women feel fuller throughout the day and helped them eat less calories throughout the day, as a result.
- A new study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed participants who consumed a 43-gram serving of dry-roasted, lightly salted almonds every day for 4 weeks, either as a snack or as part of a meal. At the end of the 4-week study, caloric intakes and body weights in participants who consumed almonds did not differ from control participants who did not consume almonds, suggesting that participants compensated for the calories provided by the almonds.
- The researchers also found that, during an 8-hour feeding study, there were significantly greater reductions in the daylong ratings of hunger and desire to eat in participants who consumed almonds either as a snack or as part of a meal relative to control participants who consumed no almonds, with more pronounced effects when almonds were consumed as a snack as opposed to as part of a meal.
- Participants consuming almonds also experienced improvements in dietary intakes of monounsaturated (“good”) fat and vitamin E. This is a notable finding, particularly since vitamin E intakes were below the recommended level in several of the groups at the start of the study. These findings suggest that almonds make a great nutritional addition to any diet.
- Advise your clients on different ways to fit almonds into their day. Perfect for snacking, on-the-go crunching or as an ingredient in recipes, almonds may just be the key that could tip the scales in their favor.
*The Study: A study was conducted to determine the energy value of almonds in the human diet and to compare the measured energy value with the value calculated from Atwater factors, the primary method used to determine the energy content of foods. To calculate the measured energy value of almonds, eighteen healthy adults consumed one of three diets for 18 days each. The three treatments were administered to subjects in a crossover design where the diets contained one of three almond doses: 0, 42, or 84 grams per day. During the final nine days of each treatment, volunteers collected all urine and feces, and samples of diets, urine, and feces were analyzed for macronutrient and energy contents. From this, the “measured” (metabolizable) energy content of the almonds was determined.
Results: The energy content of almonds in the human diet was measured at 129 kilocalories per 28-gram serving (4.6 ± 0.8 kcal/g). This is significantly less than the calculated energy content of 168–170 kcal per serving (6.0–6.1 kcal/g) for the almonds used in this study as determined by the Atwater factors. When applied to almonds, the Atwater factors resulted in a calculated value that was 20% greater than the measured energy value.
Conclusion: This study provides evidence that almonds provide approximately 20% fewer metabolizable calories than originally thought. The Atwater factors, when applied to certain foods, may result in overestimation of their measured metabolizable energy content. Traditional methods overstated the calories from almonds because they do not account for the fat that is not fully absorbed. This is thought to be due, in part, to the fibre content and/or the rigidity of almond cell walls.
Novotny JA, Gebauer SK, Baer DJ. Discrepancy between the Atwater factor predicted and empirically measured energy values of almonds in human diets. Amer J Clin Nutr 2012; 96:296-301.
Hull S, Pombo S, Re R. The effect of almonds on satiety and food intake in healthy volunteers. 10 August 2012.
In another long-term study published in the British Journal of Nutrition designed to look at the effects of almond intake on blood cholesterol levels, researchers noted that individuals consuming 320 calories daily from almonds did not gain weight over the course of the study.
Jaceldo-Siegl K., Sabate J, Rajaram S , Fraser GE. Long-term almond supplementation without advice on food replacement induces favourable nutrient modifications to the habitual diets of free-living individuals. Br J Nutr 2004;92:533-540.
Hollis, J, Mattes RD. Effect of chronic consumption of almonds on body weight in healthy humans. Br J Nutr 2007;98:651-656.
81 participants, 43 healthy men and 38 healthy women, ages 25-70 years
- 1 year study; 6 months eating 320 calories per day from almonds
- Total calorie intake was the same over the course of study
- Participants did not gain weight
- Almonds replaced other foods in the diet
- Intake of healthy fats, fiber, vegetable protein, vitamin E, copper and magnesium significantly increased
- Intakes of trans fats, animal protein, sodium, cholesterol and sugars significantly decreased
- Daily consumption of ~320 calories from almonds improved diets by including more healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals in the diet without causing weight gain
Another study evaluated the dose response of almonds on coronary heart disease risk factors. The dose-response effects of whole almonds, eaten as snacks, were compared with low saturated fat (<5% energy) whole-wheat muffins (control) in the therapeutic diets of hyperlipidemic subjects.2
27 hyperlipidemic men and women
Randomized crossover study. Consumed three isoenergetic (mean 423kcal/d) supplements (muffins and almonds) each for one month.
Supplements provided 22% of energy and consisted of:
- Full-dose almonds (73 ±3 g/d)
- Half-dose almonds plus half-dose muffins
- Full-dose muffins (control)
- Mean body weights differed <300g between treatments
- The full-dose almonds produced the greatest reduction in levels of blood lipids
- Half-dose almonds reduced:
- LDL cholesterol by 4.4% ±1.7%, P=0.018
- LDL:HDL cholesterol 7.8% ±2.2%, P=0.001
- Full-dose almonds reduced:
- LDL cholesterol 9.4% ±1.9%, P<0.001
- LDL:HDL cholesterol 12.0% ±2.1%, P<0.001
- Lipoprotein(a) 7.8% ±3.5%, P=0.034
- Oxidized LDL concentrations 14.0% ±3.8%, P<0.001
- No significant reductions on the control diet
- Almonds used as snacks by hyperlipidemic subjects in this study significantly reduced coronary heart disease risk factors, in part because of the protein, fibre and monounsaturated fatty acid components of the nut.3
1. Hollis J, Mattes R. Effect of Chronic Consumption of Almonds on Bodyweight in Healthy Humans. Br j Nutr. 2007 Sep;98(3):651-6
2. Jenkins DJ, et al. “Dose Response of Almonds on Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors: Blood Lipids, Oxidized Low-Density Lipoproteins, Lipoprotein(a), Homocysteine, and Pulmonary Nitric Oxide A Randomized, Controlled, Crossover Trial.” Circulation. 2002 Sep 10; 106(11):1327-32.