We include nuts and nut butters in our snacks and meals on a daily basis. Not only do they taste great, but they deliver a wide range of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants. They also deliver a lot of calories, which can make dieters weary of including nuts in their eating plans.
The truth is that nuts (and nut butters) can absolutely fit into your diet, even if you’re trying to drop pounds. In fact, it’s a good idea to include them — they’re packed with monounsaturated fats (The kind that when combined with smarter carb choices might improve insulin sensitivity for those with type 2 diabetes, improve heart health, and help you better absorb the nutrients from fruits and veggies!) The trick to eating nuts and not gaining weight is to practice savvy portioning. Here are our favorite rules of thumb that we, and our clients, follow:
5 Rules to Nutty Portions
1. Think of nuts as an accessory, not the main star — just like a bracelet or scarf adds just the right touch to an outfit. Sprinkle chopped nuts over fish before baking, toss into a salad to add crunch, stir into hot cereal for breakfast, or mix with dry whole grain cereal and dried fruit for trail mix. Get creative!
2. Use chopped, slivered, or sliced nuts — this allows you to sprinkle them over food and makes a smaller amount go further.
3. Opt for 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped nuts at a time, or 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of nut butter (about 50 to 100 calories worth).
4. If you like snacking on whole nuts, measure out a 150 calorie portion and store in snack bags — no eating directly from a bigger bag!
5. Be aware of how many nuts are in a 50 calorie portion — that way, whether you’re nibbling on them whole or chopping up to add to a meal or snack, you won’t go overboard on calories.
4 walnut halves
8-10 peanuts out of the shell
1-2 brazil nuts
Any favorite ways to use nuts in meals and snacks? How do you practice nutty portion control? Check out our Twitter feed (www.twitter.com/cjnutrition) to see how we add nuts to meals and snacks.