Weight loss is a simple matter; just eat less and move more to force your body to burn more fat for fuel. However, while the math is simple, eating less often isn’t. It can be hard to know what foods to eat to lose weight and what foods will have the opposite effect.
Diets don’t always help, as many are based on food prejudices and not nutritional science. They ban certain foods almost out of spite, and not because those outlawed foods will stop you from losing weight.
Nuts are a controversial weight-loss food. On the one hand, they’re high in fats and calories, so a lot of people avoid them during a diet.
However, nuts also contain fiber, healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals, which is something that you can’t say about many so-called diet foods, such as rice cakes, reduced sugar candy, and low-calorie ready meals.
Long story short, eating nuts could help you lose weight, but only if you practice good portion control. After all, all varieties of nuts are high in calories.
In this article, we examine the nutritional benefits of peanuts and answer the question, “are peanuts good for weight loss?”
Are Peanuts Good for Weight Loss
What Are Peanuts?
Contrary to popular opinion, peanuts are not a nut at all, but in fact, are a legume. Legumes, which are also known as pulses, are mostly types of beans.
Also known as groundnuts, monkey nuts, and goobers, peanuts are a very popular snack food and come in several forms and varieties, including:
- Peanut butter
- Peanut oil
As well as being consumed on their own, peanuts are often added to foods and recipes and are used in dessert foods, confectionery, and especially Asian cooking.
Like most legumes, peanuts are nutritionally dense and contain a range of healthful compounds. The nutritional values for 3½ ounces (100 grams) of raw peanuts are:
- Calories: 567
- Protein: 25.8 grams
- Carbs: 16.1 grams
- Sugar: 4.7 grams
- Fiber: 8.5 grams
- Fat: 49.2 grams
While peanuts ARE high in fat, most of that fat is monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Only a little over 10% of the fat in peanuts is saturated.
In addition, peanuts contain significant amounts of the following vitamins and minerals:
- Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- Folate (Vitamin B9)
- Vitamin E
Peanuts and Weight Loss
Peanuts can help you lose weight in several ways:
Peanuts are high in protein, fat, and fiber. This is the perfect combination for long-lasting satiety. All of these macronutrients are gastric inhibitors, which means they keep food in your stomach for longer. With less hunger to contend with, you’re less likely to break your diet with unplanned snacks.
Hard to Digest
Even though peanuts are high in calories, you may not be able to digest them fully. It’s estimated that about 25% of the calories in peanuts are unusable. You simply cannot break down peanuts small enough or fast enough for them to be entirely digested. This is not the case with other types of nuts.
Increased Metabolic Rate
Protein-rich foods like peanuts have a high thermic effect. This means that eating them causes a small but significant increase in your metabolism. Eating high protein peanuts will keep your metabolism buzzing for faster, easier weight loss.
Peanuts contain an abundance of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. A low intake of mono and polyunsaturated fats is often linked to weight gain. These healthy fats are anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is frequently cited as one of the causes of weight gain and obesity.
Shelling Peanuts Acts as a Way to Monitor Your Portion Size
People tend to eat less of foods they need to unwrap piece by piece.
That’s because things like shells and wrappers provide instant feedback on how much you have consumed; the evidence is right there next to you! Also, shelling peanuts will stop you from eating handfuls at a time.
Additional Benefits of Eating Peanuts
Peanuts aren’t just good for weight loss; they’re also good for your general health. The benefits of eating peanuts include:
Improved Heart Health
Peanuts are high in heart-healthy fats and nutrients, including antioxidants such as resveratrol. Eating peanuts could reduce your risk of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.
Reduced Risk of Gallstones
Gallstones affect one in ten adults. Peanuts help lower cholesterol levels, and gallstones are predominately made of cholesterol. Eating peanuts could lower the risk of gallstones in men and women.
More Stable Blood Glucose
Peanuts are very low in carbs and mostly free from sugar. As such, they will not cause your blood glucose levels to rise. Stable blood glucose may help reduce the risk of developing diabetes, will ensure your energy levels remain constant while creating the perfect environment for fat burning.
Better Digestive Health
Unlike popular snack foods like chips and sweets, peanuts are high in fiber. While fiber is indigestible, it’s very good for your digestive system and can help prevent constipation.
In addition, the fiber in peanuts can contribute to increases in “good” gut bacteria called probiotics. Probiotic bacteria are crucial for a healthy digestive system and are also good for your immune system.
Healthier Skin and Bones
Peanuts contain several important vitamins and minerals. Vitamin E is crucial for healthy skin, while phosphorus is good for your bones.
As healthy as peanuts are, there are a few downsides to eating this popular legume:
Peanut allergies affect one percent of the adult American population. It’s the most common allergy.
Eating peanuts can cause mild symptoms such as hives or rashes or be as serious as anaphylaxis and cardiac arrest.
Some people are so allergic to peanuts that even minuscule amounts can cause a potentially life-threatening reaction. Needless to say, if you have an allergy to peanuts, you should take care not to consume anything with peanuts in it.
Peanuts can be contaminated with a type of mold that produces the poison aflatoxin. Symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning include loss of appetite, jaundice, and signs of liver problems. Severe aflatoxin poisoning can lead to liver failure and liver cancer.
Avoid aflatoxin poisoning by storing peanuts in a dry place, discarding batches of peanuts that look or smell wrong, and using peanuts by their best-before date.
Peanuts contain anti-nutrients, which are substances that block the absorption of other vitamins and minerals. The main anti-nutrient in peanuts is phytic acid. Phytic acid can prevent the absorption of zinc and iron. However, eating peanuts in moderation should not have a noticeable effect on nutrient absorption.
At more than 500 calories per 100 grams, eating a lot of peanuts could cause weight gain. For this reason, you should pre-portion your peanuts into one-ounce servings to avoid accidentally eating too many.
Not All Peanuts Are Good For You
Chocolate-coated peanuts, salted peanuts, dry roasted peanuts, peanut butter with added sugar, salt, and palm oil…all of these processed peanut butter products are much less healthy than plain, raw peanuts. For health and weight loss, raw or plain peanuts are best.
Many diets ban peanuts. That’s hardly surprising, given that a handful of nuts can contain as many calories are a good-sized meal. If you eat too many peanuts, weight gain is almost inevitable. But, eaten in moderation, peanuts could help you lose weight and are good for your health too.
Peanuts are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats. That means they’re filling and will keep you feeling full for hours after you’ve eaten them.
Also, with very low carbs and no sugar, they won’t have much of an impact on your blood glucose levels either. If you eat raw nuts from the shells, you’ve also got the perfect way to keep track of your intake; just count the husks.
As well as being a good weight loss good, peanuts are surprisingly healthy. They’re good for your heart, your digestive system, and even your skin and bones. Also, the high protein content means they’ll help you recover after exercise and repair and build muscle.
Unfortunately, peanuts can trigger allergies, and improperly stored peanuts can cause serious illness. However, most people learn they have a peanut allergy when they are young, and food labels always indicate the presence of peanuts, so they’re easy to avoid.
If you add peanuts to your diet, seek out raw or cooked products with no added ingredients. Peanut M&Ms are NOT good diet food!