Obesity is a growing epidemic in the U.S., with nearly 40 percent of adults having a BMI that is equal to or exceeds a BMI of 30. Keeping weight off in adulthood is a challenge, too, with the average adult gaining about a pound every year. But there might be a way to slow down the weight gain that naturally comes with aging—and nuts are the key.
See, according to Toby Smithson, MS, RDN, LD, CDE, diabetes lifestyle expert and author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies, one of the primary reasons adults are more susceptible to weight gain is attributable to decreased muscle mass.
“Our muscles are where most of our calories are burned, and when muscle loss happens, unburned calories end up as fat,” she says. “When we lose our lean muscle mass, our bodies require fewer calories and our metabolism slows.”
The obvious way to maintain muscle mass is by strength training. However, an equally important way you can prevent muscle loss is by consuming an adequate amount of protein every day. Nuts are chock-full of protein, with almonds in particular providing a satiating 6 grams of protein per one-ounce serving.
Aside from protein content, a new observational study from researchers at Harvard University found that eating just half an ounce of nuts every day in adulthood was associated with less long-term weight gain. And for more, be sure to check out the 40 Best-Ever Fat-Burning Foods.
Weight gain is often thought of being the consequence of eating excess calories, but there is increasing evidence that suggests the quality of diet may play just as strong of a role in long-term weight maintenance.
Researchers observed nearly 145,000 men and women, investigating the correlation between changes in nut consumption over 4-year intervals and weight change over about two decades of follow-up. While they couldn’t narrow the association between increased nut consumption and weight gain prevention down to just one specific thing, Smithson says the study suggests three plausible explanations.
The answer? Each and any one of them. Smithson says that all nuts are nutrient-rich, so whether you prefer cashews or almonds, eating half an ounce of either daily would be sufficient.
“This study brings good news for people looking at gaining less weight as they age,” says Smithson. “Offering people a great tasting, high-in-nutrients food like almonds to help curb weight gain is a welcoming message.” Now, here’s why you may want to start adding spinach to your smoothie…