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Eating Almonds Can Help You Reduce Calorie Intake

By Jiri Kaloc

Weight loss is hard, people looking to shed a few kilos can use all the help they can get. Researchers from the University of South Australia found that almonds may just be an effective tool. How many should you eat? And how exactly do they help? Let’s take a closer look.

Almonds positively impact your hormones

The new study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, looked at the impact of almonds on calorie intake. They gave people two different snacks of the same caloric value and then a buffet meal 2 hours later to see how each of the snacks impacted consumption at subsequent meals.

  • Unsalted, whole, natural Californian almonds with skins
  • Oven-baked fruit cereal bar and rice crackers

Participants were given 30 min to eat as much or as little as they liked when it came to the buffet, which was nut-free and offered a selection of foods and beverages as defined by the Australian Dietary Guidelines, in generous volumes. The researchers found that almonds influenced hormones in a positive way compared to the carbohydrate-rich snack.

“Rates of overweight and obesity are a major public health concern and modulating appetite through better hormonal response may be key to promoting weight management. Our research examined the hormones that regulate appetite, and how nuts – specifically almonds – might contribute to appetite control,” said lead author Dr Sharayah Carter. The study measured the following in people who ate almonds.

  • 47% lower C-peptide responses, which can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • 18% higher levels of the glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide, a hormone that enhances the release of insulin following food intake
  • 39% higher levels of glucagon, a hormone that sends satiety signals to the brain
  • 44% higher pancreatic polypeptide responses, which slows digestion and may reduce food intake

Snacking on almonds results in getting fewer calories

The good news is that these hormonal changes translated into a calorie intake reduction. Those that got 30-50 grams (a small handful) of almonds as their snack lowered their energy intake by 72 kcal at the buffet meal. Those who ate the high-carbohydrate snack ate 72 extra kcal mostly in a form of junk food.

“Even small, positive lifestyle changes can have an impact over a longer period. When we’re making small, sustainable changes, we’re more likely to be improving our overall health in the long run,” said Dr Carter.

Almonds are high in protein and fibre

The study provided between 30 and 50 grams of almonds to those participants selected in the almond group. This amount contains between 6-10 g of protein and 4-6 g of fibre. In comparison, the carbohydrate-rich snack contained close to no protein or fibre, as most junk food typically does. This could be why almonds helped people eat less in the buffet and why they may be an effective tool for weight loss.

“Almonds are high in protein, fibre, and unsaturated fatty acids, which may contribute to their satiating properties and help explain why fewer kilojoules were consumed. Almonds are a fantastic healthy snack to incorporate into the daily diet. We are now excited to look at how almonds might affect appetite during a weight loss diet and how they might assist with weight management in the long term,” concluded Dr Carter.