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How many nuts should I eat?
When it comes to nuts there is no question that they are a healthy snack. They are full of healthy fats, low glycemic, and have a large array of minerals. Combine that with the power of pre-soaking and you have a superfood that goes a long way. But how many nuts should we be consuming daily?
The "C" Word
First we should look at the obvious factor on most peoples minds when it comes to eating food: calories! Back when I was a personal trainer in Dallas, Texas I surprised many of my clients with fact that calories are technically arbitrary and are not an important factor when considering what foods to eat or how much of that food to have. To start, calories are simply a number given to describe how many kilojoules of energy it takes to burn a particular food until it becomes ash. So what does this have to do with how much energy you get from food? IT DOESN'T!
The last time I checked, no one was a burning furnace with fire inside them waiting to consume any food you put in your body. We have chewing, saliva, stomach acid, enzymes, and good bacteria that break down our food to release and absorb the nutrients out of what we eat, and even more revealing, all of those things differ between each of us! We all have slight variations in all aspects of our digestion and metabolism, therefore it is scientifically impossible to say how much energy is in any particular food when it is broken down for energy and nutrients bewteen different people. Look at it this way, we all have the same body parts on the outside, but aren't yours a little different looking than anyone around you? Same goes for your insides too. In short, don't count calories.
So Nate, you still haven't said how to figure out how many nuts to consume? Well, once you realize that calories are not the be all end all you can move on to what counts: the quality of your food and listening to your body. For nuts, if they are organic and sprouted then you're eating the best quality you can and if you're not, get the closest to that as you can. When it comes to listening to your body, you'll want to pay attention to how your body reacts before, during, and after you eat any nuts and do a little experimenting. For example, if you decide to have a small handful of nuts with your breakfast pay attention to if you feel energized, sluggish, hungry, bloated, or satisfied. Any negative feelings could mean you're eating too many nuts. Try a few less in the same scenario the next day or even try different nuts! Any positive feelings is a good signal from your body that you're on the right track in quality and quantity.
Just give me some numbers
For those that still aren't convinced, let's get a little more scientific. Nuts are primarily fat, which are said to provide 9 calories of energy per gram. Since proteins and carbs are 4 calories/gram it's safe to say that fats are more calories dense so, in theory, you wont have to eat many of them before you are consuming a lot of calories. The good news is that nuts tend to be thermogenic to your metabolism and low-glycemic as well. This means that they actually increase your metabolism and won't raise your blood-sugar. Basically, you will burn more calories, won't feel hungry for longer, won't have a crash in energy, and can off-set the drop in blood-sugar from eating simple sugars when consumed at the same time. Most research has found that people can consume anywhere from 1oz-4oz of nuts per day with no statistically significant effect on their weight. That's 120-800 calories depending on the nut and the amount. It just shows that where the calories are coming from are more important than the calories themselves because of the metabolic effects of nuts.
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