Doctor's Note

This is the fourth of a seven-video series on a fascinating phenomenon—why don’t nuts make us fat? I reviewed the balance of evidence in Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence, and introduced two theories in Solving the Mystery of the Missing Calories—both of which were not well supported by a study on peanut butter, which I detailed in Testing the Pistachio Principle. We finally seem to be getting somewhere, though we still haven’t accounted for all the missing calories. Next, we’ll check out the Testing the Fat-Burning Theory. For my crazy breakfast smoothie concoction, see A Better Breakfast.

For further context, check out my associated blog posts: Nuts Don’t Cause Expected Weight GainThe Best Nutrition Bar; and Diet vs. Exercise: What’s More Important?

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    This is the fourth of a seven-video series on the fascinating phenomenon of Solving the Mystery of the Missing Calories—why don’t nuts make us fat? I review the balance of evidence in Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence and introduced two theories on Monday, both of which were not well supported by a study on peanut butter I detailed in yesterday’s video-of-the-day Testing the Pistachio Principle. But we finally seem to be getting somewhere! We still haven’t accounted for all the missing calories, though. Tomorrow we’ll check out the Testing the Fat Burning Theory. For my crazy breakfast smoothie concoction see A Better Breakfast. And if you haven’t yet, please feel free to subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      And I thought it was just the Oatmeal effect.  Glad I have my three walnuts in my oatmeal every morning.

      But could it be both?  The WalMeal effect!

      • veganrunner

        I am picturing you counting out 3 nuts. Man are we a funny group! 

        Love you sense of humor.

        • HemoDynamic, M.D.


          • LKSkinner

             We can all be a little nuts in the morning, but that nuttiness can get us through the day!
            Dr HemoDynamic illustrates a good point here, when we pay attention to how much, or many, of something we’re eating we can guard against the senseless eating that can derail a healthy diet.

          • Veganrunner

            I know what you mean….I just counted out 10 chia seeds! :-)

          • Elderberry


            Never heard of chia seeds, but just googled and was impressed by all the claims about its health promoting properties, which if only partially true would still be amazing. Liked this: “Chia . . . looks cute (like tiny dinosaur eggs) . . . besides which it has an off-the-scale nutritional profile. . . .” What do dinosaur eggs look like?

            Do you find it boosts your endurance? How do you eat your chia seeds? 

          • veganrunner

            Hi Elderberry,

            I add them to everything. My smoothies, oatmeal, salads. You can make a pudding which I haven’t tried yet. You can add them to drinks and after awhile they start to germinate and get this soft covering and the kids think that is cool. One night I had a group of teanagers adding them to iced tea, hibiscus tea and coconut water.  There isn’t much taste just a crunch. You know how hemp seeds add an earthy taste? These are pretty tasteless in comparison. 

          • veganrunner

            Sorry missed boosts endurance question. I don’t know about that. I eat so many different seeds, nuts, etc I wouldn’t be able to tell. I will tell you though after a smoothy with various kind of seeds I have gotten a bit manic! Serotonin effect? 

          • Elderberry

            Tks, veganrunner. Read that chia seeds were eaten by Aztec runners, who could then go for the day without stopping. Surely a story invented by marketers; still, can the slight manic effect be from chia? Going to try it myself.

          • James

            veganrunner, do you mind sharing the names of some of the seeds, nuts, etc that you eat and how you prepare them?

          • veganrunner

            Hi James, I am getting squeezed. Look below.

          • LynnCS

            Most of us raw foodists, including Moi..Soak them ahead of time and add the chia gel to a green smoothie.  Many other uses. 

          • AndyF

            Best way to eat them is to soak 5-6 table spoons in a 1/2 a container of almond milk (or make your own). Stir frequently for the first hour (say ever 10 mins and an initial good mix) to stop clumping and ensure you’ve added enough seeds. Once it starts approaching a custard like thickness, consume or chill overnight to thicken up even more.

            They turn into a sago like texture, which makes an excellent healthy base to add fruit / nut etc for an excellent dessert!

            I’d be curious as to how well chia seeds are digested when they are merely sprinkled. Anyone know?

  • Elderberry

    Sounds good to me. My daily lunch salad of mixed greens and vegetables (some garbanzo beans thrown in) would normally leave me wanting to eat again in three hours. But with a teaspoon of ground flax seed and some seeds or a few walnut pieces, I can go for several hours before feeling hungry again. We all need to practice moderation and discipline at the table, and in a healthy vegan diet, seeds and nuts are useful for flavor, satiation, and nutrition. 

    If committed meat eaters want help in cutting back to very small portions, why not add beans and legumes and some seeds and nuts to meals and see what happens? 

  • Veganrunner

    Makes perfect sense to me. No question about it. If I eat only vegetables and fruit I am grabbing for that handful of nuts. They take the hunger away. The oil in the nuts is satisfying so I don’t keep grazing. Plus, they are healthy. Can’t beat that combination!

    • LynnCS

      I do agree.  So many raw foodists I follow, say that eating the nuts will lower my energy, but without a little fat, I am cold and tired.  I think it’s a tradeoff.  If I have some avo in my eve salad, I don’t have a lot of nuts. I do like the chia in the morning and either some kind of raw, organic, non pasturized nuts in my salad.  Yum!

  • Kathleen

    Have you had a chance to look at Jeff Nelson’s post on nuts and weight gain?
    Would you, please, be so kind as to either debunk what he is saying or validate it? He cites some of the same studies that you do, but derives quite a different conclusion.  Thanks much!
    — Confused about nuts.

    • veganrunner


      What is your experience with nuts? Maybe that will help with your confusion. Obviously Dr. Greger is a fan of nuts. If you look under browse all topics you will see what a fan he is. When studies are performed not everyone maintains their weight, gains or loses. Statistically people are not gaining. Just about every study out there can be torn apart. Look at the China Study. People love to tear that one apart. 

      If your appetite doesn’t end up adjusting to the 250 calories you consume with nuts then don’t eat them. 

      And who is Jeff Nelson anyhow and why does he have a beef with nuts? 

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Sorry for your confusion! 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.”

  • Tom

    Yes, if there is anyone who drinks oil for breakfast they would do better switching to nuts. The usefulness in the study is compromised by its failure to match the nuts, particularly in protein and fiber.

    • SJ M.D.

      Your suggestion makes no sense. Same amount of energy in the 2 smoothies, and the point is exactly that the composition of the nut (fat, protein, carbs, fiber, nutrients ) makes you feel full.

  • veganrunner

    Hi James,

    I have hemp seeds shelled, sesame seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. I have almonds, walnuts, cashews, and brazil nuts. I use the cashew and hemp to make milk in the blender. Either one works for me. There is so much waste when I make almond milk that I have given that up. I can make a pretty good latte’ with cashew milk. 

    I make a daily smoothy and include some combination of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, amla, broccoli, spinach, hibiscus tea, cocoa nibs, and a combo of seeds or nuts. Then throughout the day I may grab a small handful of pumpkin seeds, or walnuts. If I am having oatmeal I will add seeds and nuts and hemp milk or cashew milk. 

    Hemp seeds are great as a snack. I just find nuts and seeds very satisfying. I generally don’t cook with them but I have had a vegan walnut meatloaf that is to die for! 

    • BPCveg

      You are AWESOME! 

      Can we please have your vegan walnut meatloaf recipe?

      • Veganrunner

        BPCveg you are too kind. I wish I had the recipe. It was from a local restaurant. 

    • SJ M.D.

      With this diet – you will live to be 100 years old !! :-)

      • BPCveg

        With this diet – she/he will live to be 100 years old and also be less dependent on the medical system and wake up every day feeling fantastic.

        It is so worth the effort to go on a well-planned plant based diet!

        • Veganrunner

          I was thinking 110!

          And you too my fellow vegetable and fruit lovers. I am a she.

        • SJ M.D.

          Yes – you are right, it is not only about longevity, but quality

  • Dave Platter

    Thanks for the great video, Dr. Greger. May I ask, did the study only continue for the 4 days that it seemed to in the chart? Also, it looked like satiation levels by the end of the last day were getting back down to where they started. Could that mean that nuts are great, but if you have them every day they end up having no impact on satiation levels?
    I would love to know more. I certainly eat a handful of mixed nuts when I need a fillup.

  • Valnaples

    So true! I know for a fact that when I put walnuts or pecans in my oats, I stay full longer.  Also when I have my pumpkin seed/low sodium V-8 snack,(usually on days when I do NOT have my oats/nuts for breakfast) I really am not hungry for lunch until much later in the afternoon. Yesterday, I didn’t really want any lunch until 2:30 and it was a very small lunch (all fresh vegetables with some hummus). NICE video, thank you Dr. Greger!!!!!

  • I guess we’d be nuts not to eat nuts!  But seriously, great information dispelling myth that plant-based diets are going to be so carb and calorie laden, because of things like nuts and grains, that weight gain will occur.  The fog is clearing with all the information you provide here.  Thank you for all you do! 

  • Does any of this mean we do not have to soak nuts to get their nutrition as so many healthy eating pros advise?

  • Do we really need to soak nuts (and seeds) to get their nutritive value as many diet pros advise?

  • Felicione Brandon

    Hi my name is brandon i was told to put my question here I am trying to compile a list of all the nutrients the human body needs daily to be healthy and so i was hoping you can help me get that list if its based on weight size and age i am 206lbs 6ft 1 and 20yrs old if you can also add in all the amino acids the body needs as well that would be awesome

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Tough ask! I suggest checking out the Institute of Medicine nutrient guidelines. That is where I go to reference macro and micronutrient quantities. I also have a chart of all micronutrients needed give me your email or write us privately and I can share.