Nuts are packed with nutrients, many of which can be lacking in a low-carb diet. But, are they okay for you to eat, and if so, how many can you eat? I’ll tackle those questions in this post.
Nuts on a Low Carb Diet Summary
- Nuts are packed with vitamins and minerals and have a hunger-satisfying mix of fats, protein, and carbs.
- The nuts that are lowest in carbs are Brazil nuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, and walnuts.
- How many nuts you can include in your low carb diet and lose weight will depend on your metabolism as well as the other food choices you make throughout your day.
Can You Have Nuts on a Low Carb Diet? How Many? [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- The benefits of nuts on a low carb diet.
- How nuts rank from least to most carbs!
- How many nuts you can eat on a low carb diet.
Benefits on Nuts on a Low Carb Diet
Nuts have a great mix of healthy fats and protein while being relatively low in carbs. They also provide nutrients that can be lacking or get depleted when you follow a low-carb diet, including fiber, selenium, and magnesium.
These nutrients do everything from stabilizing your blood sugar to calming muscle cramps. But, how many nuts to include in your diet will depend on your metabolism as well as the other food choices you are making throughout your day.
Let’s start by getting an idea of how many carbs you’re getting from nuts by ranking them from the most low carb or keto-friendly to the least.
Listing Nuts from Least to Most Carbs
If we’re strictly talking about the carb content in a serving of nuts we see that the best choices are Brazil nuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, and walnuts. Each of these nuts has less than 4 total grams per one-ounce serving (roughly equal to a small handful of nuts).
Next is hazelnuts, also known as filberts, which have less than 5 total grams per ounce. Followed by pine nuts and almonds, which have around 6 grams per serving.
On the higher carb end, we have pistachios with more than 7 grams of carb per ounce and cashews with more than 8 grams of carbs and very little fiber.
Raw vs. Roasted
When we look at the ranking of low-carb nuts, the thing to keep in mind is that these values are for raw nuts without added oil or flavorings. Nuts that are roasted are often done so in vegetable oils that degrade when exposed to heat, taking away from their health value.
If you buy flavored varieties, you have to watch out for added carbs and understand that the salty, sweet, or spicy flavoring makes the nuts easier to overeat. The desire to overeat nuts is one of the factors you must consider when deciding how to include nuts in your diet.
Even raw nuts are calorie-dense, with around 150 to 180 calories in a small handful. So if you are looking to use them as a snack, you’re best off to measure out a portion and then put the container away to avoid overeating.
What about Peanuts?
Difficulty controlling portion size is particularly true for peanuts, which are technically not nuts. They are legumes like beans and peas.
They contain some of the same beneficial nutrients that we find in tree nuts, but peanuts are often sold roasted and flavored, which makes them much more addictive.
If you are in a weight loss phase, you will be happiest with your overall results if you hold off on eating peanuts until you reach your goal.
How Many Nuts Can You Eat?
As for the tree nuts that I discussed, the question becomes, how many can you have on your diet. That answer will depend on the other food choices you are making throughout the day, as well as your unique metabolism.
When your goal is to lose weight on a low-carb or keto diet, the carb and fat content of each meal is important. A low-carb, high-fat meal will keep your blood sugar and insulin levels stable, resulting in less fat storage.
But, the most important factor for weight loss is the total amount of carbs that you take in from the combination of your day’s meals. When you keep your total carb intake for the day low and don’t overeat, your body must pull fat from storage to meet your body’s energy needs. This is why low carb dieting works for weight loss.
How many total carbohydrate grams your body will handle and still lose weight is unique to you and will take some trial and error to figure out. Because, unfortunately, there are no outward signs of an individual’s carb tolerance.
It’s not possible to point at someone and say that this person will be able to eat 80 grams of carbs per day and lose weight, but this person will only be able to handle 20. So if you’re just getting started or your weight loss has stalled, it is a good idea to track your carb intake to get a clear picture of your carb tolerance.
If you find that you are someone that must keep your carbs closer to 20 grams per day to lose weight, an ounce of pistachios would provide you with more than a third of your daily carb allowance. This would limit your food choices for the rest of the day. You may want to stick with lower carb varieties like a few Brazil nuts or an ounce of walnuts.
If your metabolism allows you to eat around 80 carbs or so, you could enjoy an ounce of nuts as a snack and mix additional nuts or seeds into a salad or recipe.
The bottom line is that nuts provide a lot of nutrients that your body needs to maintain your health. So, don’t automatically count them out because of concerns about their calorie or carb content.
If you are looking to lose weight, measure your portions. That is very easy to do with a simple food scale.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!
About the Author:
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.