Almonds have long been known as a beneficial health food packed with important nutrients.
Even so, like all other nuts, almonds have a lot of fat in them.
Of course, the fat is of the monounsaturated kind.
But even healthy fat is calorie dense, which could theoretically lead to weight gain.
In fact, 1 gram of fat has 9 calories, while protein and carbohydrates only have 4.
So, the question is:
Are almonds fattening or not?
In this post, we’ll take a look at some interesting scientific studies and the nutritional attributes of almonds, as well as a list of potential health benefits of eating them regularly.
Almonds & Weight Gain: The Research
Alright, no wasting time — let’s take a look at what the science says.
Almonds VS Muffins
In 2015, the Journal of the American Heart Association published an eye-opening study about almond consumption.
48 participants with elevated LDL (bad cholesterol) levels were put on a heart-healthy diet for 6 weeks.
After the initial period, they were split into two groups, each with a different eating plan.
The diets were completely identical besides one small detail:
- Diet A included 1.5 oz (42.5 grams) of almonds every day, which is about 245 calories.
- Diet B replaced the almonds with a sugary muffin of the same caloric density.
After another 6 weeks had passed, the almond and muffin groups were tested.
So, what where the findings?
First off, those on the almond diet saw a reduction in both their LDL and total cholesterol.
Meanwhile, those eating the muffins only had a slight reduction in their HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
But here’s the most interesting part:
Both versions of the diet resulted in the same, stable body weight.
However, the almond group actually lost fat in their belly regions as well as their legs.
In other words:
Eating almonds daily resulted in less body fat without dropping weight on the scale!
The researchers concluded:
“Daily consumption of almonds (1.5 oz.), substituted for a high-carbohydrate snack, may be a simple dietary strategy to prevent the onset of cardio-metabolic diseases in healthy individuals.”
Snacking For Health
In another study from 2013, researchers investigated the effects of snacking on almonds daily for one month.
The participants were 137 adults who were at risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
Like in the first study mentioned, these people were also told to eat 1.5 oz of almonds every day.
When the 4 weeks were over, a number of effects were observed:
- Feelings of hunger were significantly reduced
- Blood sugar concentrations decreased
- Vitamin E levels increased
- Monounsaturated (MUFA) fat intake increased
- Nobody gained any weight
Basically, nothing but good stuff!
Finally, let’s take a look at a study from 2003, published in the International Journal of Obesity.
65 obese and overweight adults went on low-calorie diets for 24 weeks.
◈ One-half of the group ate 84 grams of almonds on a daily basis.
◈ Meanwhile, the other half consumed a complex-carbohydrate food of their choice (with the same calorie count).
When the trial concluded, the researchers saw clear differences in the two groups.
While both of them lost weight while dieting, the almond group took home the trophy.
Compared to the other group, those who ate almonds experienced:
- A 5% smaller waist
- 7% greater reduction in BMI (body mass index)
- 7% less body water
- 10% larger cut in total body fat mass
- 11% lower blood pressure
- 46 % greater reduction in the need for diabetes medication
The researchers concluded that almonds seem to improve a number of physical issues related to metabolic syndrome.
They also noted that almonds could have a potential role in fighting the public health problem of widespread obesity.
So, what can we learn from all of these studies?
While almonds are kind of dense in calories, they’re not associated with weight gain.
This is probably because they’re full of (healthy) fat, fiber and protein — all 3 makes you feel full.
Feeling full helps greatly with keeping, or even losing, weight in the long run.
So, are almonds fattening or not?
Well, as long as you don’t force feed yourself, it’ll be very, very hard to get fat from eating them.
In other words:
With that in mind, go right ahead and snack on these nutritious nuts with a clear conscience — they’re good for you.
Almonds For Muscle Building
Alright, so we’ve talked about almonds and fat gain, but what about muscle?
Well, nuts are generally not thought of as a great bodybuilding food — at least by themselves.
Sure, they have some protein, but the vast majority of their calories come from fat.
Walnuts VS Almonds For Bodybuilding
Take walnuts, for example, which is one of the most commonly-eaten nuts in the world.
Per 100 gram, walnuts give you:
- 65 grams of fat
- 14 grams of carbs
- 15 grams of protein
Not exactly the nutritional profile that gets a gym rat going?
But what about the nut of the hour, the almond?
Well, here’s the thing:
Almonds are actually the number 1 nut in the world when it comes to protein!
(Alright, peanuts are number 1, but they’re technically a legume, so…)
In fact, 100 grams of almonds will give you:
- 49 grams of fat
- 22 grams of carbs
- 21 grams of protein
That’s 16 grams less fat and 6 grams more protein than you’ll get from walnuts.
It might not seem like much of a difference, but it all adds up when you’re counting your macros for the day.
Sure, almonds do contain a lot of fat as well — they’re nuts after all.
Still, that’s healthy fat that your body needs, and you get a lot of protein to go along with it.
If you’re planning on building muscle and want to include some nuts in your diet, almonds are your best bet.
7 Benefits Of Eating Almonds Regularly
Putting on muscle and losing fat is great for both your confidence and health.
Still, eating almonds regularly will give you plenty of other benefits as well.
Just check out the following list:
1. Protect Your Brain
You might have heard people refer to almonds as good “brain food”.
And they’re right!
The healthy nut contains the amino acid L-carnitine, as well as riboflavin (vitamin B2).
Both of these nutrients are connected to healthy brain and neurological function.
In elderly people, the vitamin E in almonds could help the mental decline associated with aging.
In a long-term study from 1997, alpha-tocopherol (a form of vitamin E) was shown to be effective at treating and slowing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Boost Athletic Performance
In 2013, the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN) published the results of an 8-week study about almonds and athletic performance.
10 trained athletes (8 cyclists and 2 triathletes) were randomly told to eat either 75 grams of almonds or cookies of the same caloric density.
They ate their given snack every day for 4 weeks, before they switched to the other food for 4 more weeks.
After each of the 4-week periods, the athletes underwent various performance tests.
When all was said and done, the almonds clearly won out over the cookies.
When the athletes had been eating the nuts, their bodies used more carbohydrates and less oxygen.
These factors enhanced their endurance and made them faster.
3. Fight Inflammation & Oxidative Stress
One of the main causes of inflammation is oxidative stress.
Almonds are full of antioxidants (such as vitamin E) that protect you against this.
If you have an unhealthy habit, like smoking, the tasty nuts could help reduce the oxidative stress it causes.
In one study, smokers who ate 84 grams of the nut daily experienced 23% less damage to their DNA.
Of course, quitting would ultimately be the best for your health.
However, if you’re not quite there yet, almonds could prevent some of the damage in the meantime.
4. Strong Teeth & Bones
Most people, especially women, experience loss of bone strength when they age.
Eventually, this can lead to nasty things like fractures, tooth decay and osteoporosis.
Don’t worry, though — you can keep your bones strong for a lot longer than most people.
You just have to make some smart choices when it comes to your lifestyle and nutrition.
One of those is (you guessed it) eating almonds regularly.
100 grams will give you:
- 484 mg of phosphorus (48% of RDV).
- 268 mg of magnesium (67%).
- 264 mg of calcium (26%).
These trace minerals are all essential for strong bones and teeth.
And, as you can see, this tasty nut is absolutely jam-packed with all 3 of them.
5. Nourish Your Skin
As mentioned in point 3, almonds are full of powerful antioxidants.
They can prevent damage caused by bad habits, yes, but there’s more to it than that.
Another major thing they help you with is your skin.
Vitamin E, along with other antioxidants like flavanol and catechin, could prevent or even reverse the damage caused by oxidative stress.
On top of that, almonds provide your body with healthy fats and improve blood circulation (through L-arginine), which keeps your skin hydrated and supple.
6. Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels
We already touched upon this when we talked about weight loss, but it’s worth a mention of its own.
Almonds are packed with fiber and healthy (monounsaturated) fats that help stabilize your blood sugar levels.
They do this by slowing the speed that glucose is released into your blood stream.
This prevents the unhealthy blood sugar spikes that are linked to insulin resistance (which can lead to full-blown diabetes).
7. Healthier Digestive System
Recent research has discovered that the almond (with the skin intact) can be used to improve the health of your digestive system.
In a study from 2014, 48 healthy volunteers ate 56 grams of almonds and 10 grams of almond skins daily.
By the end of the 6-week study period, the participants saw a big increase in their healthy bacteria populations.
This basically means a more efficient digestion, along with a reduced chance to develop nasty disorders, including colon cancer.
Want to improve your internal food processor?
Eat almonds — with the skins.
Almonds: An Overview
That’s a lot of info in one post, with a ton of study links.
Let’s condense it into a neat cheat sheet to close it off:
- Almonds are not fattening
- They may help you lose weight
- They’re the most protein-rich nut (peanuts are legumes!)
- A top contender for the healthiest snack
- Can protect your brain
- Boost athletic performance
- Fight inflammation in your body
- Keep your teeth and bones strong
- They nourish your skin
- Stabilize blood sugar levels
- Give you a healthier digestive system (if you eat them with their skins)
Does that sound 100% fantastic or what?
Now, grab yourself a handful of these shapely nuts — it’s time for some healthy snacking!