Mixed tree nut snacks result in significant weight loss and improved satiety

Mixed tree nut snacks result in significant weight loss and improved satiety

Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.May 4 2021

In a randomized, controlled study published online in the journal, Nutrients, researchers found that including mixed tree nuts in a weight management program resulted in significant weight loss and improved satiety.

Researchers at UCLA compared 95 overweight/obese men and women (BMI 27.0-35.0 kg/m2) ages 30-68 years who consumed either 1.5 ounces of mixed tree nuts or a pretzel snack. Both snacks provided the same number of calories, as part of a hypocaloric weight loss diet (500 calories less than resting metabolic rate) over 12 weeks. This was followed by an isocaloric weight maintenance program for an additional 12 weeks.

Participants experienced significant weight loss (12 weeks: -1.6 kg and -1.9 kg and 24 weeks: -1.5 kg and -1.4 kg) in the tree nut and pretzel snack groups, respectively. Both groups also showed a significant decrease in BMI at 12 weeks, compared to baseline. However, satiety was significantly higher at the end of week 24 in the mixed tree nut group, and there was a trend toward greater weight maintenance compared to the pretzel group. Moreover, the dropout rate was significantly lower in the mixed tree nut group (16.4%) compared to the pretzel (35.9%) group. And, heart rate was decreased significantly, compared to baseline, in those consuming tree nuts, but not pretzels.

Tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) are a great source of protein, healthy fats and fiber. This makes them so satiating and may be a major reason why we saw less weight gain in the tree nut group during weight maintenance, and a significantly lower dropout rate compared to the pretzel group."

Zhaoping Li, MD, PhD, Lead Researcher, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition at UCLA

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Recent research has shown that more than 40 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. During the past year many Americans have gained weight while sheltering in place, partly due to less exercise and more snacking. One study estimates a weight gain of 1.5 pounds per month. "We know most people get about 25% of their calories each day from snacks and a large proportion come from desserts, sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets and salty snacks," states Dr. Li. "By replacing just one of those snacks with 1.5 ounces of tree nuts may result in a positive impact on weight and overall health."

According to Maureen Ternus, M.S., R.D.N, Executive Director of the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF), "This latest study adds to a growing body of evidence showing that nut consumption may be a useful tool in weight management."

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