Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I'm Going Nuts! Great Reminders from Natala

If you haven't seen Dr. Greger's newest video about nuts and weight gain, let me spare you the 10 minutes. Dr. Greger has reviewed a boatload of nut studies and come up with the recommendation that calories from nuts seem to mysteriously disappear, ie, you shouldn't gain weight when the extra calories that you eat come from nuts.

To say that sounds, well, nuts, is an understatement. It flies in the face of everything that Dr. McDougall and Dr. Esselstyn are saying.

If there's one thing I don't love about nutritional studies and recommendations, it is the amount of seemingly contradictory information that is being "fed" to us. I'm a normal lay person, not a doctor, nutritionist, or scientist. My day job is half accounting, half art direction. My night job is half chef and all mother. I'm just not equipt to deal with conflicting scientific information.

Add in what Jeff Nelson from has to say about the nut studies and what we have here is an out and out war over nuts.

What the heck is going on here? I have been watching my intake of nuts for the last six months with no good effect on my weight, probably because I have replaced those nut calories with calories from whole grains and potatoes, not with kale and lettuce.

I was so confused, I had to talk about it with someone, so I e-mailed Natala Constantine, a member of the Engine 2 team. What she gave me was some incredibly sound advice, so I thought it was important that I share it with you.

Number 1: Nuts have a ton of calories. You are highly unlikely to lose weight eating nuts.

Natala said, "It's just so easy - nuts are high in caloric density. They don't help anyone lose weight. Ask anyone who is allergic to nuts (like my husband) and has lost 100 pounds with ease. Weight loss is 100% caloric density."

Number 2: To lose weight, you've got to be watching your calorie intake like a hawk. 

"If I were you I'd stick to all Jeff's recommendations - so no nuts only a Tbsp of flax/chia a day, no dates, no dried fruit, no bread/crackers things like that. Stick to vegetables/greens (half your plate) and then beans/grains/starches divided up in the rest of the portions . . . Stick to Jeff's rules - it works 100% of the time, in fact I can honestly say that I've never found it not to work - for anyone - and I get about 500-1000 e-mails per week. Every single time we look at journals I can tell the person what is wrong right away - and it's usually: concentrated calories (bread/crackers) , nuts, seeds, high fat plant-foods (avocado), drinking calories - in some cases (rare) it's just too much food.

People forget that the more weight they lose the less they have to eat. It is approximately 10X your body weight in calories to maintain your weight - when you eat less than that you should be losing weight. So if someone weighs 180 pounds and eats 1800 calories a day they will stay 180 pounds. That is a very easy number to get to.

Thus why nuts are a bad idea - it's very easy to overeat on them. Like I've said before it only takes a miscalculation of 120 calories extra a day to gain 100 pounds in 8 years. It is a very small amount that changes things."

Number 3: Maintaining a healthy weight/losing weight is NOT easy, even with a whole foods, plant based diet. But it's way easier if you just use calorie density as your guide to eating.

"It is really hard with weight loss- because you started out higher your body was used to eating a certain amount of food. Your brain is probably telling you that it STILL needs the amount of food that you were at your highest weight. Because you are technically starving yourself to your brain I have had to adjust my intake SO many times and will keep having to. My husband is the same way he is at his ideal weight (155) down from 260 - when he was at 260 he could eat a lot more than he can now. Now he eats 3 500 calorie meals every day . It can be tricky. Eating foods lower on the density scale helps the most, chewing your food helps a ton, Jeff's longevity soup is what has saved me though."

Number 4: Have an attitude of gratitude. Be thankful for the state that you are in right now, which is way better than had you never found the Plant-strong way.

"You've come a long way - it's just your body adjusting over and over again."

Thanks Natala, I owe you one!

P.S. Dr. Greger is still maintaining that nuts do not contribute to weight gain:

"Note: I updated the video [Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of the Evidence] on August 25, 2012. I am indebted to Jeff Nelson for pointing out my mischaracterization of the 2007 Natoli & McCoy review. I've not only corrected the video, but expanded it (by 8 minutes!) to cover all of the studies published in the 5 years since. The evidence is stronger than ever that the consumption of nuts does not lead to the weight gain one would expect."
If you can't get enough of the nut controversy, read more about it here.

Have you seen Dr. Greger's videos about nuts? What was your reaction? What has your personal experience with nuts been?

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