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Fat Burning Via Arginine

The arginine content of nuts may explain their metabolism boosting effects, though in a list of the top food sources of arginine, nuts don’t even make the top ten.

August 24, 2012 |
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Acknowledgements

Images thanks to David Kent, Glane23, Evan-Amos, Sanjay ach, PiccoloNamek, and Yuriy75 via Wikimedia Commons; Cat Sidh, Paul Goyette, and toconnor1 via Flickr; and Tuinboon_zaden_in_peul, IvanNedialkov Paparaka, Jack Dykinga, USDA ARS, gran, and Sanjay Acharya.

Transcript

How do nuts boost fat burning within the body? A paper out of Texas A&M last year suggests that it may be the arginine content of nuts. How does arginine get the job done? They’re not sure: “The underlying mechanisms are likely complex at molecular, cellular, and whole-body levels—in other words they have no clue— but they do review the evidence that they may include the stimulation of mitochondrial biogenesis—more power plants per cell—and brown adipose tissue development, which is what your body uses to generate body heat, so you’d be converting more of your fat into heat. Either way they suspect arginine to play an important role in fighting the current global obesity epidemic.

Well, then where in the diet do you find arginine? I’ll give you a hint. According to the CDC, 78 million Americans aren’t getting enough. So you know the top few sources have got to be healthy foods, and indeed, here’s the list for the top 15 food sources of arginine you’d likely find in a typical store: #1 soy protein isolate (6.7), what they make veggie burgers and meat-free hot dogs and the like out of, #2 Pumpkin and squash seeds (5.4g/100g) #4 watermelon seeds (4.9)—isn’t that crazy? Not as crazy as #5, fried pork rinds (4.8)—I’m not kidding. Maybe Americans should have more than I think! #6 bbq flavored bork rinds (4.5) It must concentrate in the skin, #7 sesame seeds (3.3), #8 peanuts 3.25 #9 soiybeans 3.15 #10 peanut butter 2.7 #11 tahini (2.68) #12 almonds, 2.5 g; #13 pine nuts 2.4 #14 fava beans 2.4. #15 sunflower seeds 2.4

So basically soy, seeds, nuts, and beans for arginine. Although dried beluga whale meat has a lot, the first nonpork rind animal food you could actually find in a typical store clocks in the USDA database at 95th down the list, bacon.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

This is video #6 in a seven-part series on the fascinating phenomenon of Solving the Mystery of the Missing Calories. I review the balance of evidence as to why nuts don't tend to contribute to weight gain in Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidenceintroduced two theories on Monday, both of which were put to the test in a study on peanut butter, see Testing the Pistachio Principle. Then came an elegant study using walnut smoothies, followed by the big reveal in yesterday's video-of-the-day Testing the Fat Burning Theory. Arginine may indeed explain the thermogenic effect of nuts, but it also might be the flavonoid phytonutrients, which we'll explore tomorrow. Should one avoid soy protein isolate even though it's such a concentrated source of arginine? Stay tuned—I'm going to cover that when I cover IGF-1 and the cancer growth reversal studies. I offer a sneak peak in my full-length 2012 presentation Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death. If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Nuts Don’t Cause Expected Weight GainBurning Fat With FlavonoidsWhat Is the Healthiest Meat?, and The Best Nutrition Bar

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    This is video #6 in a seven-part series on the fascinating phenomenon of Solving the Mystery of the Missing Calories. I review the balance of evidence of why nuts don’t tend to contribute to weight gain in Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence, introduced two theories on Monday, both of which were put to the test in a study on peanut butter Testing the Pistachio Principle. Then came an elegant study using walnut smoothies, followed by the big reveal in yesterday’s video-of-the-day Testing the Fat Burning Theory. Arginine may indeed explain the thermogenic effect of nuts, but it also might be the flavonoid phytonutrients, which we’ll explore tomorrow. Should one avoid soy protein isolate even though it’s such a concentrated source of arginine? Stay tuned—I’m going to cover that when I cover IGF-1 and the cancer growth reversal studies I offer a sneak peak at in my full-length 2012 presentation Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death. If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      I noticed in your above comments that you stated, “which we’ll explore tomorrow.”

      You’ve said this before but that would violate the first rule of Nutrtionodynamics:  Anticipation = The Greger Principle

      ;-}

  • LKSkinner

    Well, I don’t think I’ll be indulging in any pork rinds or beluga whale meat (little problem of Jewish dietary laws there :) ) but the nuts and seeds are great! I’ve got sunflower seeds in my homemade oatmeal muffins, tahini in the tofu mushroom stew for Friday night dinner and homemade chickpea humus for lunch tomorrow. 
    I just hope this information from Texas A&M doesn’t get distilled down to a soundbite in some news source and people stampede to their local healthfood store hoping to buy l-arginine pills to pop with their fat burgers. Arg indeed!

    • Hunniliz

      Would you like to share the tofu mushroom stew recipe?

      • LKSkinner

         Hi Hunniliz,
        I’d love to share it but I think the recipe is a bit too long to post here.
        The recipe can be found in the cookbook _Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites_ on p.277.
         

        • Hunniliz

          Thanks for the info.  I have that cookbook.  Do you go exactly by the recipe or have you made changes.  My chili recipe comes from  Moosewood Cooks at Home, but it now no longer resembles the original recipe.

          • LKSkinner

             Hmmm, good question, lemme look at the recipe.
            I used pure organic tahini and I left out the celery, I’m not fond of celery. In the future I’ll substitute the celery with water chestnuts, that will give a nice crunch to the stew.
            I also love to tinker with recipes, especially when I want to eliminate the fat/oil from the recipe.

    • Coacervate

      I just hope this information from Texas A&M doesn’t get distilled down to a soundbite in some news source and people stampede to their local healthfood store hoping to buy l-arginine pills to pop with their fat burgers. Arg indeed!

      Why?

      • Veganrunner

        Why do you think she said that. No idea?

    • Thea

       re: “I just hope this information from Texas A&M doesn’t get distilled
      down to a soundbite in some news source and people stampede to their
      local healthfood store hoping to buy l-arginine pills to pop with their
      fat burgers.”

      Funny.  I was thinking: “I assume the media is going to distill this down to: eat fried pork rinds!”  Arg ditto.

      • HemoDynamic, M.D.

        Man vs Food takes on Fried Pork Rind Hamburgers to battle his increasing belly bulge.
        ;-}

        • LKSkinner

          Now that’s a frightening thought!
          Another excuse to eat really bad food! They might have to change the name of the show to “Culinary Conflicts.”

  • Reba

    If you will accept possible topics, I sure would like to know about pH levels. My chiropractor (76 and extraordinarily healthy) tests himself with pH strips on the tongue several times/day, adjusting with cider vinegar if necessary. Swears by it. I know that ayurvedic medicine focuses on the pH level as well, so would like to know more…

  • Doug

    Dr. Greger,

    What’s the effect of Arginine on Cancer?

    Thanks,

    Doug 

  • Guy Martin

    I realy appreciate the videos that you send me regularly… they are full of great informations helping me to eat better… and that means linving longer in a healty way!  Thanks to you  Dr. Michael Greger…  I missed your last lectures in Montréal but now  it is great to have you on de web!!! 

  • Stephen Albers

    Argentine supplements are available over the counter.

  • Healthy Librarian

    It looks like the nuts & seeds in your comparison are all weighing 100 grams. If that is so–it is an extraordinary large quantity for anyone to eat. For example: To consume the 100 grams of pumpkin seeds in order to get 4033 mg of arginine–a person would also be consuming 540 calories, 46 grams of fat, & 9 grams of saturated. No one eats that much–nor would it be healthy to do so.

    A more typical serving of pumpkin seeds or nuts (a handful) would likely only be 28 grams–and 151 calories, 13 grams of fat, 2 grams sat fat, & now–only 1129 mg of arginine–not much different from the amount in a normal 3 ounce serving of wild salmon or a cup of black beans.

    The point is–you need to compare arginine content as it exists is NORMAL servings of food–not by a 100 gram measure.

    Note, also that arginine is not hard to come by at all! It’s plentiful in meat, poultry, dairy, & fish—along with beans. And we certainly now that a diet high in dairy & meat isn’t exactly heart-health.

    Look at the arginine content of 3 ounces of lean beef round. It has 1816 mg of arginine (beats out the pumpkin seeds!), along with 175 calories (similar to the pumpkin seeds), & only 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of sat fat.

    Yes, you can get enough arginine on a plant-based diet without even eating nuts or seeds, let alone 100 gram servings—and all that extra fat & calories. The nitric oxide production must clearly be working in such a diet, because blood pressure goes down, C-Reactive protein levels decrease, body weight is reduced & stable, & heart disease can often be prevented or reversed.

  • lovestobevegan

    The Lucky Irishman

    – 1 orange
    – 1 frozen banana
    – 1 handful organic* spinach
    – 1 zucchini
    – 1 organic* Granny Smith apple
    – ½ tbsp sunflower seeds
    – ½ tbsp pumpkin seeds
    – 4-7 ice cubes

    Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.

    *Apples rank 1st (most contaminated) for yet another year and spinach ranks #6 (up two from last year’s 8th) in the “dirty dozen: 12 foods to eat organic” so choose organic. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php

    Bookmark my new Plant-Based Emporium Facebook page for all my latest recipes. https://www.facebook.com/PlantBasedEmporium

    ~Complements of lovestobevegan