Can eating nuts make you gain weight? Here’s what science has to say

Science weighs in on whether or not nuts are a healthy snack and if they are helping or hindering your weight loss

A bowl of mixed nuts overflows onto a table
(Image credit: Getty)

Nuts are generally categorised as a healthy snack – as long as they aren’t  smothered in salt. The nutrient dense fruit comes in varying forms and has been shown to reduce serious health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels. 

However, they do get a bad rep for their high fat content and you may wonder what effect they can have on your waistline. You might look to shed a few pounds by limiting "bad" fats ("trans fats"  or saturated fats that increase heart disease risk) wherever possible, such as using a best health grill to drain out any fatty oils in your cooking, or bidding farewell to any potentially unhealthy snacks. Fortunately, for those who enjoy nibbling on a handful of nuts, a recent study has revealed that consuming nuts won’t make you gain weight.

The research, published in Obesity Reviews, analysed whether or not nuts do in fact contribute to weight gain. The scientists concluded that nuts were actually associated with lower incidence of obesity or weight gain, and that a higher intake of nuts is associated with reductions in body weight and body fat. 

So don’t go binning that bag of pecans sitting on your desk at work! They are a really great source of unsaturated fat and high-quality vegetable protein. If you're struggling to get enough protein in on a vegetarian or vegan diet, high-protein veggie dishes are also can be found in our best vegan cookbooks too.

A colourful salad filled with walnuts

(Image credit: Getty)

This 2010 study found that nuts are already included in the ‘cardioprotective diet’, which is essentially a diet that is high in fibre, fruit and veg and oily fish. This diet is designed to improve blood cholesterol and blood pressure, both of which are linked to obesity.

Rob Hobson, head of Nutrition at Healthspan, notes that nuts also contain highly nutritious minerals such as zinc, magnesium and iron. While he agrees that nuts don't directly cause weight gain, he does enforce that they must be consumed in moderation in order to compliment a healthy diet.

“If you eat a really poor diet high in calories, sugar and bad fats then any food you eat will contribute to weight gain. Also, if you consciously eat very large quantities of nuts every day alongside your regular diet, that go above and beyond your calorie needs, then you are likely to still put on weight,” concludes Rob.

Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.