Doctor's Note

The nut consumption and weight studies to which I refer were covered in Friday's video-of-the-day Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence. Tomorrow we'll explore the studies that put the Pistachio Principle to the test, followed by the Dietary Compensation Theory and the Fat Burning Theory. For a more humorous take on the exercise of chewing see my video Dietary Guidelines: Corporate Guidance. 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 Gain and The Best Nutrition Bar
  • Michael Greger M.D.

    The nut consumption and weight studies to which I refer were covered in Friday’s video-of-the-day Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence. Tomorrow we’ll explore the studies that put the Pistachio Principle to the test, followed by the Dietary Compensation Theory and the Fat Burning Theory. For a more humorous take on the exercise of chewing see my video Dietary Guidelines: Corporate Guidance. If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by <a href="clicking here.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Anticipation = The Greger Principle
      ;-}

  • Elderberry

    Veganrunner, SJ M.D., and Thea, 

    May I continue Friday’s comments here? Veganrunner, you are an inspiration—and can we get that recipe for cloudless chocolate cake?

    Thea and SJ M.D., I would not knowingly eat anything with sugar added if I
    can avoid it. Sugar is not a food, it’s an industrial product, and it is
    cancer’s best friend and favorite junk food (because of the anaerobic
    respiratory mechanism exhibited by all cancer cells). All processed sugars
    result in compromised immune function (among other things, decreases the
    ability of white blood cells to destroy bacteria). 

     

    And yet sugar makes you feel good because it produces
    dopamine (a feel-good chemical) in the brain. Many people do get addicted; they
    need it to feel normal and undergo withdrawal if they cut sugar from their
    diets. The tendency is to eat more and more, particularly when tired or
    stressed, and perhaps people who are dopamine deficient are particularly
    susceptible.

     

    If I remember
    correctly, John S. Yudkin, Pure, White,
    and Deadly (1972; rev. ed. 1988), sees excess sugar consumption as the
    leading cause of obesity and disease (not fat and cholesterol), particularly cancer, and in the book he focuses on sugar’s effect on young children. Which
    may be why Pure, White, and Deadly is
    mentioned in a 90-minute talk by Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of
    Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology (“Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” taped
    by UCTV for the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, online:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM).

     

    In the 1700s the average person consumed not more than 4
    pounds of sugar a year.

    Today, 50 percent of Americans consume a half pound of
    sugar a day.

    It is said that doctors would be delighted if we cut back
    to only 40 pounds of sugar a year!
    How little needs to be consumed before health is compromised? Who knows?

     

    I wonder if Yudkin would still think sugar was the leading cause of disease if he
    had the research on current saturated fat consumption. Must see Dr. Greger video: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/does-eating-obesity-cause-obesity/.

    I think the killer combo is the vast amounts of sugar and fat consumed. And would folks want to
    eat so much fat if their appetites were not artificially stimulated by sugar?

     

    My experience: a plant-based, whole foods diet
    (vegetables, beans/legumes, grains, fruit, seeds/nuts) stabilizes blood sugar
    levels within days and makes it easier to get off sugar for good. 

    • veganrunner

      Well thank you Elderberry. 

      We tend to be so careful with the quality of gas we put in our cars but not so much when it comes to the quality of food we put in our body. I believe the role the gut plays in our health is so overlooked and yet it is so important. 

      As a health care provider I have always believed I can be more effective if I “practice what I preach.” 

      • Sue Hull

        Veganrunner, I concur on practicing what we preach. I am a home health nurse, and I have often approached patients by saying ” I can come here and teach you how to take your meds correctly, and how to keep pesky symptoms at bay, OR I can come here and teach you how to actually heal your body.” I can tell you that no one has EVER opted for the lifestyle change if I was not walking the talk myself. NOT ONE PERSON! 

        Of course, many still do not want to make radical changes to the status quo, but some do, and when I see people with diabetes get off insulin, or CHF patients walk a mile without getting SOB, and people with no energy start living life again, I feel it is the best thing I do as a nurse. People can get WELL.

        But, if we are not doing it ourselves, they somehow know it, even if we don’t tell them.

    • SJ M.D.

      Elderberry,
      I agree – I don`t know how “toxic” refined sugar is in a low dose, but for sure it has no nutritional value. My point is, that if you truly have improved your diet from SAD (and the european ditto), to a vegan diet of mostly whole foods, plant based food, you probably have reduced your risk considerable to get a heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes, inflammatory diseases etc, despite a little surgar once in a while (if this is what keeps you on track) or a little olive oil. I am not saying that refined sugar or oils are good for you, but if using a little keeps you on track, it is probably a lot better than to return to SAD, because the other regime felt too restrictive. Even an occasional egg (aaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhhh I said it !!!!!!) if it keeps you on track.

      I totally disagree with guidelines saying that you should get 20-35% of the calories from fat, and accept up to 25% of total calories from sugar! Others say 10% from suger – could these guidelines have been made to keep you on SAD? Nah – nutrition food guidelines are made to protect the people! Isn`t it?

      I think that most of us here agree, that the optimal diet probably is whole foods, plant based, no added sugar, no added oils, and then you probably will end up with: Energy from fat 10-20% (depending on nut-consumption ;-) ) and energy from refined sugar = 0%

      • Tobias Brown

        Right on. I started loving broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, & sweet potato — for breakfast. I don’t think the 30 grams of maple syrup that put on top of my sweet potatoes, actually on top of the partly chopped, partly ground walnut topping on top of the sweet potatoes will have any negative effect on my health profile. 100+ grams of fiber per day here.

  • Tim Tango

    Dr. Greger – is it true the study showing eating nuts doesn’t cause weight gain was paid for by the nut industry?

  • TM

    Dr. Greger, I adore your and your videos, but you got snookered on this study!  Nuts DO cause weight gain.  There’s no magic involved, unless you count the magic of the study writers analyzing studies that all show that nuts DO cause weight gain and then through clever sleight of hand, making it look as though they dont.  To an honorable man like yourself, it’s hard to believe there are scientists who would sell their soul in this way, but sadly there are.
    http://www.vegsource.com/news/2012/08/n … ought.html

  • TM

    Sorry, posted partial link in previous comment.  Here’s the correct link!

    Dr. Greger, I adore your and your videos, but you got snookered on this
    study!  Nuts DO cause weight gain.  There’s no magic involved, unless
    you count the magic of the study writers analyzing studies that all show
    that nuts DO cause weight gain and then through clever sleight of hand,
    making it look as though they dont.  To an honorable man like yourself,
    it’s hard to believe there are scientists who would sell their soul in
    this way, but sadly there are.
    http://www.vegsource.com/news/2012/08/nuts-weight-gain-its-worse-than-we-thought.html

    • Caroline Jones

      TM,I too adore Dr. Greger. I just saw the same VegSource article and am very eager to read Dr. Greger’s reply. 

    • Michael Greger M.D.

       Thanks for posting! Please see my new note at Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence:

      “Note: I updated the video on August 25, 2012. I am indebted to Jeff Nelson for pointing out my mischaracterization of the 2007 Natoli & McCoy review. I’ve not only corrected the video, but expanded it (by 8 minutes!) to cover all of the studies published in the 5 years since. The evidence is stronger than ever that the consumption of nuts does not lead to the weight gain one would expect.”

  • Phil
    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Please see my new note at Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence:

      “Note: I updated the video on August 25, 2012. I am indebted to Jeff Nelson for pointing out my mischaracterization of the 2007 Natoli & McCoy review. I’ve not only corrected the video, but expanded it (by 8 minutes!) to cover all of the studies published in the 5 years since. The evidence is stronger than ever that the consumption of nuts does not lead to the weight gain one would expect.”

  • JAM

    Looks like the discussion on nuts is heating up.
    http://www.vegsource.com/news/2012/08/nuts-weight-gain-its-worse-than-we-thought.html

    Without getting into all the benefits and nutritional reasons why nuts are an essential component of a nutrient-rich eating style, Dr Greger has that covered in the vids, the bottom line is you will gain weight if you overeat eat nuts at anywhere from 3200 to over 4000 calories or more, a pound.

    I don’t think the question is “Do nuts cause weight gain?”. They can and will if you overeat them, but so will starchy vegetables, grains, beans and fruit if you overeat them too, beyond your need for calories. Albeit maybe not as quickly as refined foods, because of resistant starch, fiber etc and that they don’t contain refined and added salt, oil and sugar, which will cause weight gain far beyond actual calorie content..

    I think the weight question is misleading. Does the above mean starchy vegetables, grains, beans and fruit cause weight gain? No, but they could, just like nuts, when eaten beyond need.

    In a nutrient-rich healthy eating style we are talking about 1-4 oz a day, (that does not mean you have to eat them everyday) with most people eating only 1-2oz a day because they are already carrying around too much excess weight, or don’t have the activity levels to support more. Nuts are 200+ calories an oz!

    So, again, I think to say don’t eat eat nuts because they cause weight gain is short sighted. To say they don’t cause weight gain also misses the point. They can.

    The question is:
    What’s their nutritional value, why should I eat them and how much? Ok a 3- part question. ;-)

    Thoughts?

    • BPCveg

      JAM, I think you have raised some great discussion points.

      I think that the question of whether high nut consumption causes weight-gain is hard to answer definatively unless we clearly define the population group being studied. 

      Are we, for example, talking about the average person who already overconsumes saturated fat and who uses liberal quantities of concentrated oils in virtually every dish they eat?  Or are we talking about someone eating a minimally-processed whole foods plant based diet (with no added oil, salt or sugar)? I strongly suspect that Dr. Greger is directing his recommendation of high nut consumption to someone who already eats a healthful plant-based diet. In this case, nuts are one of the few sources of fat in the diet.

    • SJ M.D.

      JAM,
      Thoughts – you have some good points. Based on what we have learned here – and from other sources  – yes, nuts should be a part of a healthy diet. Part of. As well as kale, broccoli, blueberries etc. Again moderation and variety is the key-word.

      • Veganrunner

        But what if tomorrow’s video demonstrates that the same calories eaten when consumning nut butter puts on weight!

        Then what! :-) until tomorrow…….

        • SJ M.D.

          You are lucky – when you wake up in the morning, you will get the answer – I have to wait additional 6 hours…….;-)

          • Veganrunner

            It’s 11:30 there. Go to bed!

          • SJ M.D.

            OK – I will :-)

            You know – plant strong people need less sleep ( at least my experience)

      • JAM

        Right. Moderation may be the most vague term of all time. ;-), but no matter what, we are talking a matter of ounces at best.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Please see my new note at Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence:

      “Note: I updated the video on August 25, 2012. I am indebted to Jeff Nelson for pointing out my mischaracterization of the 2007 Natoli & McCoy review. I’ve not only corrected the video, but expanded it (by 8 minutes!) to cover all of the studies published in the 5 years since. The evidence is stronger than ever that the consumption of nuts does not lead to the weight gain one would expect.”

  • elias masri

    How is it that I eat more calories on my plant based diet than I did on my crappy diet and weigh less? I tend to ignore that theory of thermodynamics because it doesn’t matter how much I eat I have not put on any weight. I was eating 3500 calories a day in winter…everyday a pound of dates on top of a normal diet. 

  • LKSkinner

    I think JAM is onto something here. Overeating starchy foods will also cause weight gain, that’s for sure. What’s important is getting the nutrients you need, and nuts, in moderation, can help with that goal.
    I’ve read the VegSource article and the gotcha tone of the article is a bit annoying. And the author’s conclusion is basically what we’ve learned here from Dr. Greger about a lowfat, vegan diet for health. (I see that Jeff Nelson is the creator of vegsource.com, BTW)

    • http://www.nutrientrich.com/ John Allen Mollenhauer

      I agree, the gotcha point is not really a “gotcha”, of course, nut consumption as with any food we consume, and it’s effect on weight/health, is always related to energy (calories) management.

      There is nothing “gotcha” about that. It’s whether the food should be part of the eating style to begin with, and for what reason that matters most. “How much” is secondary but then the main point; and that is individual, even though there are general guidelines.

      The VegSource article which offers a great deal of insight, I think has a mistaken premise which is, the point that nuts promote weight loss, or weight gain. They can in both instances, it depends on all the other factors that BPCVeg was talking about and that is very difficult to ascertain and communicate in media. 

      We have to understand the population (one or many) being studied before any statement can be taken as fact. It is context (circumstance) dependent. John Allen Mollenhauer

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Please see my new note at Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence:

      “Note: I updated the video on August 25, 2012. I am indebted to Jeff Nelson for pointing out my mischaracterization of the 2007 Natoli & McCoy review. I’ve not only corrected the video, but expanded it (by 8 minutes!) to cover all of the studies published in the 5 years since. The evidence is stronger than ever that the consumption of nuts does not lead to the weight gain one would expect.”

  • http://blessedveganlife.blogspot.com BlessedMama

    Interesting.  I must eat too many cashews or have no trouble chewing them because I can gain weight just fine when I munch on them.  :-)  But, the pistachios do slow me down…

  • themoo

    You might want to go to vegsource.com. They are discussing the same topic.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Please see my new note at Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence:

      “Note: I updated the video on August 25, 2012. I am indebted to Jeff Nelson for pointing out my mischaracterization of the 2007 Natoli & McCoy review. I’ve not only corrected the video, but expanded it (by 8 minutes!) to cover all of the studies published in the 5 years since. The evidence is stronger than ever that the consumption of nuts does not lead to the weight gain one would expect.”

  • verdandi1

    ARGH! I want to know now!

  • rjs

    The suspense is way too much to bear. This is my first post here, so much thanks for the endless supply of fascinating and useful info.

  • Valnaples

    heh, I once bought a small bag of shelled pistachios (meaning it was just the nut meat)…I want to say, it was the BIGGEST let-down of all time…I just did NOT enjoy eating them without the perfunctory cracking of the shells.. and to me, they tasted  terrible…it just was no fun without the shells! LOVE those little green nuts and a palmful always satisfies me!! and delights me as long as they are IN the shell! go figure!  NICE video, Doc!

    • LKSkinner

       Foods that you have to work for always taste better. The homebaked cookie (fat-free and whole grain of course) always tastes better than the store-bought version. The pleasure of sitting and shelling pistachios one at a time is much more rewarding than just throwing a handful into your mouth. Besides, that pile of shells is a real good indication of how many you’ve eaten!

  • Tony

    Michael, are these studies based on raw nuts only?  Or do they include cooked/roasted nuts?

  • Tony

    Apologies… Dr. Greger (respect well deserved).