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If fat doesn't make you fat...?

by (1670)
Updated 13 minutes ago
Created May 07, 2012 at 2:51 AM

Sorry, but for some reason I just can't figure this one out on my own so maybe you all can help! If fat doesn't make you fat, according to Taubes why is it that I feel we are constantly restricting intake of fats like nuts because according to people like Robb Wolf, eating over 2 oz. a day will "stall" weight loss. If Taubes is right, couldn't we eat as many nuts as we wanted and not gain weight? Indeed they do have a high omega-6 ratio, but how does this affect one gaining weight? DO different fats do different things to your body? For example, why do people stress unlimited consumption of saturated fats?

Fat and confused, thanks for the help in advanced!

Medium avatar
0 · April 06, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Very good point! Everything else I eat is good protein and veggies, very small amounts of fruit, and even though I love honey I now only eat it on special occasions. And even though desserts are my culinary specialty, I now only make them once or twice a month, and I usually use dates as sweetener.

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602 · April 04, 2014 at 6:55 PM

I am the same, and I also haven't been stalled by almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans, or any other low-carb nuts or nut butters. Maybe if people wouldn't eat the starchy ones like cashews and pistachios they might not experience as much weight gain. Also a lot of people eat "Paleo" desserts with nut flour and honey, then place the blame entirely on the nuts when they gain weight (ignoring the sugar-filled honey altogether).

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1197 · June 18, 2013 at 12:40 AM

Even though this is an old thread I have to tell @greymouser that actually, coconuts DO open, sprout, and grow. Time spent on tropical islands shows exacly how groves of coconut palms happen, bu the "nuts" falling from the mother tree, laning in the sand, sprouting, and growing another palm. They are true seeds.

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1670 · June 19, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Well for me I can't be satiated eating a HFLC diet. I do so much better adding in carbs like sweet potato and just getting my fat from where it is already included in my diet like salmon and CO sauteed in veggies. I can easily over-eat on fat calories and gain weight, but not carbs. I am also young and have a high activity level so LC dieting just doesn't work for me...in fact it makes me hypothyroid! But whatever works for you, great!

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5381 · June 19, 2012 at 4:48 AM

^ for pro-inflammatory properties of course, not oxidation...

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5381 · June 19, 2012 at 4:47 AM

"12 grams of omega-6s, not an incredibly excessive amount" - your supposed to have under 4% of your caloric intake, according to the study on fat storage I read about. Although that might be flexible if you eat as much fish as an icelandic person (virtually all fish). So actually that is probably excessive, for a 2000 calorie intake, your supposed to be under 8.8 grams.

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5381 · June 19, 2012 at 4:42 AM

"Eating fat most certainly can and does make you fat, in fact, 99% of your stored fat is from dietary fat, not from glucose conversion" - care to provide a _source_ for this random 99% "fact"?

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5381 · June 19, 2012 at 4:40 AM

Its funny the whole fat makes you fat thing. Its like the old superstition of sympathetic magic, like effects like. So if you stir a bowl of water that will create rough seas kinda thing. Its amasing that superstition can still be passed off as science these days...

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5381 · June 19, 2012 at 4:39 AM

Nuts also have starch....(although macadamias are low in both starch and omega-6s). But they are faily calorie dense..

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3914 · May 08, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Yet people reported stalls from cheese enough that Atkins warned against it, and I used to see it in the low-carb newsgroup regularly. No one ever seemed to stall from eating a 1000-calorie breakfast of bacon and eggs, but they'd stall on a few hundred calories of cheese. There's an issue with cheese (for some people) that's not explained by the calories.

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3914 · May 08, 2012 at 1:41 PM

I agree that nuts and cheese are easy to binge on, but to me, that just kicks the can down the road like all "food reward" discussion. Nuts I could buy, because I can pound nuts down like nobody's business. But cheese? It's not crunchy or salty, or anything that makes me want to stuff myself. And Atkins wasn't saying people stalled on cheese when they binged; he said 4 oz. could be a problem. Four ounces of cheddar is 456 calories. Yes, that's dense, but if you had that for lunch instead of a burger and salad, there's no reason from a calories standpoint that it should stall you. (cont.)

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3914 · May 08, 2012 at 1:32 PM

I'm thinking of the experiments discussed in *Good Calories, Bad Calories*, where inmates were fed as much as 10,000 calories a day, and most gained little or no weight -- nowhere near the amount they "should" have based on the number of calories eaten. If you want to claim that eating fat in itself makes you fat....well, no offense, but I got bored with that argument years ago.

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6719 · May 07, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Carbs are never stored as fat. They are converted to fat first if your system can not burn nor store them as glucose and then, and only then is the possibility of them being stored as fat, if, and only if they are not used for fuel.

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6719 · May 07, 2012 at 4:42 PM

Eating fat most certainly can and does make you fat, in fact, 99% of your stored fat is from dietary fat, not from glucose conversion. You can eat whatever paleo foods you want while paleo but trying to shed fat will require a calorie restriction plain and simple.

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41544 · May 07, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Maybe a little too much emphasis on omega-6s... 3 ounces of almonds is around 12 grams of omega-6s, not an incredibly excessive amount (unless PUFA-phobic). And they're not refined and processed like seed oils, and much less likely to be oxidized and damaged.

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2861 · May 07, 2012 at 2:38 PM

In regards to nuts and cheese, I think it is a combination of food reward and calorie density and convenience. People will tend to snack on these and continue eating these even if they are not really that hungry, much more so than someone would tend to do with most fatty meat.

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8879 · May 07, 2012 at 2:14 PM

*With a healthy metabolism, fats are less likely to be stored as fat as carbohydrates would.* This is just WRONG. Wrong, wrong, wrong. If someone loses weight on a high fat percent diet it may be that they are satiated more on such a diet so they eat LESS.

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19120 · May 07, 2012 at 2:11 PM

Coconut is a drupe (a specific type of fruit) of which we eat the seed. "Coconut" (as the brownish, hard, round thing we eat) is therefore technically a seed. Coconuts are kind of like nuts (a one seeded fruit), but because they don't open, sprout, and grow like a nut would, they aren't really nuts. To say a coconut "isn't a nut, it's a fruit" is as wrong as calling it a nut to being with, since nuts are part of fruits.

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19120 · May 07, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Coconut is a drupe (a specific type of fruit) of which we eat the seed. "Coconut" (as the brownish, hard, round thing we eat) is therefore technically a seed. Coconuts are kind of like nuts (a one seeded fruit), but because they don't open, sprout, and grow like a nut would, they aren't really nuts.

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8879 · May 07, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Overfeeding experiments do seem to indicate that it's pretty hard to gain weight eating a lot of fat without carbs. Care to share what experiments you're talking about? The most efficient way to put on fat is to eat low protein and high fat. If you truly lost weight on massive fat calories, you either have a fat malabsorption problem or you're not doing your liver any favors.

Medium avatar
10214 · May 07, 2012 at 2:06 PM

I think of it as being blood glucose driven. Certainly the problem is exacerbated with insulin resistance, but Atkins weight regain after carb reintroduction is a similar effect without the hormones. In both cases I believe the trigger for fat deposition is excess blood glucose in the presence of high dietary lipids.

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4002 · May 07, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Dietary fats would only be stored as fat if consumed in excess and if insulin levels are low, fat deposition is less likely to happen. I am not saying dietary fat cannot be stored as body fat, quite the contrary, but that hormones play a big role in influencing how much of it is stored or not.

Medium avatar
10214 · May 07, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Though tortilla chips are manufactured and nuts are natural, the mix of fat and carbs is about the same. Nuts are natural junk food if you overeat them.

Medium avatar
10214 · May 07, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Generally dietary fats are stored as fat, with excess dirtary carbs facilitating the process. As long as there are plenty of both in the bloodstream, de novo lipogenesis from carbs is a less likely cause of fat deposition.

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2387 · May 07, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Jan, coconut is a fruit.

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610 · May 07, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Jan: Coconut isn't a nut, technically speaking ;)

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15400 · May 07, 2012 at 7:32 AM

Agree! Plus my stomach cannot handle them!

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5853 · May 07, 2012 at 5:16 AM

1000kcals have about 1% if my source is right.

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5853 · May 07, 2012 at 5:14 AM

Whole coconuts do not have much omega 6s. I wonder why many forget that one ;)

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68 · May 07, 2012 at 4:20 AM

For a good answer to your question check out Dave Asprey at www.bulletproofexec.com Eats butter by the stick.

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1528 · May 07, 2012 at 3:52 AM

Fat doesn't make you fat in and of itself - but overeating sure will. And it's very easy for many people to just gorge on nuts. So sensible people recommend you limit intake so you don't end up eating 1000 calories of macademias. Taubes doesn't deny physics. Calories count. Absolutely. It's just the question of if whether for most overweight people, carbs may count a little more.

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5509 · May 07, 2012 at 3:36 AM

Pistachios are the worst for me:(

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5904 · May 07, 2012 at 3:09 AM

Taubes is wrong!

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10 Answers

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823
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9402 · May 07, 2012 at 2:58 AM

Ultimately, calories do count. Nuts are dense in calories and (in my opinion) relatively easy to overeat. I personally think a big part of the issue is our easy access to shelled nuts where you can eat them by the handful too quickly/easily. If you had to pick and shell each nut, that would slow you down and put in a bit of a natural control. I don't think it is the fat content specifically that would make them stall weight loss.

And then of course, there is the separate issue that nuts may not provide optimal micronutrients and their phytates may block mineral absorption, so if you're getting a large portion of your calories from them, you may develop certain deficiencies over time.

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2387 · May 07, 2012 at 3:43 AM

Nuts are inflammatory by nature - they are very high in Omega-6 PUFA's as their primary fat, and as others mentioned, they are highly nutrient dense. On top of all that, they are darned delicious to eat, and yes as others said, its easy to overeat them. Think about overeating a dense caloric source of Omega-6 fats! You really do your body a disservice by doing so.

As for me, I generally only eat macadamias when I eat nuts, as amongst nuts they have the least omega-6's and have a decent amount of monounsaturate.

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19120 · May 07, 2012 at 2:11 PM

Coconut is a drupe (a specific type of fruit) of which we eat the seed. "Coconut" (as the brownish, hard, round thing we eat) is therefore technically a seed. Coconuts are kind of like nuts (a one seeded fruit), but because they don't open, sprout, and grow like a nut would, they aren't really nuts. To say a coconut "isn't a nut, it's a fruit" is as wrong as calling it a nut to being with, since nuts are part of fruits.

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610 · May 07, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Jan: Coconut isn't a nut, technically speaking ;)

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5853 · May 07, 2012 at 5:14 AM

Whole coconuts do not have much omega 6s. I wonder why many forget that one ;)

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866
2387 · May 07, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Jan, coconut is a fruit.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106
19120 · May 07, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Coconut is a drupe (a specific type of fruit) of which we eat the seed. "Coconut" (as the brownish, hard, round thing we eat) is therefore technically a seed. Coconuts are kind of like nuts (a one seeded fruit), but because they don't open, sprout, and grow like a nut would, they aren't really nuts.

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5853 · May 07, 2012 at 5:16 AM

1000kcals have about 1% if my source is right.

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41544 · May 07, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Maybe a little too much emphasis on omega-6s... 3 ounces of almonds is around 12 grams of omega-6s, not an incredibly excessive amount (unless PUFA-phobic). And they're not refined and processed like seed oils, and much less likely to be oxidized and damaged.

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5381 · June 19, 2012 at 4:47 AM

"12 grams of omega-6s, not an incredibly excessive amount" - your supposed to have under 4% of your caloric intake, according to the study on fat storage I read about. Although that might be flexible if you eat as much fish as an icelandic person (virtually all fish). So actually that is probably excessive, for a 2000 calorie intake, your supposed to be under 8.8 grams.

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5381 · June 19, 2012 at 4:48 AM

^ for pro-inflammatory properties of course, not oxidation...

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1197 · June 18, 2013 at 12:40 AM

Even though this is an old thread I have to tell @greymouser that actually, coconuts DO open, sprout, and grow. Time spent on tropical islands shows exacly how groves of coconut palms happen, bu the "nuts" falling from the mother tree, laning in the sand, sprouting, and growing another palm. They are true seeds.

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3914 · May 07, 2012 at 1:44 PM

First of all, "stalling weight loss" isn't the same thing as "getting fat." Overfeeding experiments do seem to indicate that it's pretty hard to gain weight eating a lot of fat without carbs. But that only means a high-fat diet in and of itself doesn't kick your metabolism into fat storage mode. In contrast, when you're obese and trying to lose weight, it's not enough to stay out of fat storage mode; you have to get into fat burning mode.

Atkins similarly limited hard cheese to 4g/day, despite it being nearly zero carb. I don't know if he ever suggested a reason cheese caused stalls, or if it was just something he observed in practice. Actually, I think he said it was because it's so calorie dense, but if that were the reason, you could still eat more than 4g/day, as long as you cut back elsewhere. There's something special about cheese and nuts. It does seem like some high-fat foods inhibit weight loss in a way that other high-fat foods don't, probably because of something else in the food.

Incidentally, I don't think Taubes has ever claimed that it's impossible to gain weight eating a lot of fat; just that it's difficult to do so, and it's not the reason obesity is an epidemic today. He's struggling against the mainstream viewpoint which basically sees the body's fat cells as buckets, into which fat simply falls when you eat a burger. In reality, any fat you eat has to be broken down and built back up again inside those cells, so there's a complex hormonal process that has to take place to store dietary fat, just as there is to store carbs or protein. None of them get stored without the body deciding they need to be stored.

I know that the fastest I ever lost weight -- and felt good doing it -- was when I did low-carb on the cheap out of necessity (before I had a clue about paleo). Lots of cheap, fatty meat, eggs, some cheese, and mayo to up the fat even more. Massive calories, and the weight melted off. (I suspect the high omega-6 content of the mayo and some other cheap fats set me up for problems in the long run, though.) The next time I went low-carb, I could afford to do it "healthier," with lots of nuts, almond flour for baking, and the like. It was a much bigger struggle to lose any weight that time; I might as well have stayed with spooning cheap mayo on everything. (I made lard yesterday, so tonight I'm going to try making some lard-based mayo, so I can get back to that high-fat way of eating without the bad oils.)

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8879 · May 07, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Overfeeding experiments do seem to indicate that it's pretty hard to gain weight eating a lot of fat without carbs. Care to share what experiments you're talking about? The most efficient way to put on fat is to eat low protein and high fat. If you truly lost weight on massive fat calories, you either have a fat malabsorption problem or you're not doing your liver any favors.

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2861 · May 07, 2012 at 2:38 PM

In regards to nuts and cheese, I think it is a combination of food reward and calorie density and convenience. People will tend to snack on these and continue eating these even if they are not really that hungry, much more so than someone would tend to do with most fatty meat.

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3914 · May 08, 2012 at 1:32 PM

I'm thinking of the experiments discussed in *Good Calories, Bad Calories*, where inmates were fed as much as 10,000 calories a day, and most gained little or no weight -- nowhere near the amount they "should" have based on the number of calories eaten. If you want to claim that eating fat in itself makes you fat....well, no offense, but I got bored with that argument years ago.

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3914 · May 08, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Yet people reported stalls from cheese enough that Atkins warned against it, and I used to see it in the low-carb newsgroup regularly. No one ever seemed to stall from eating a 1000-calorie breakfast of bacon and eggs, but they'd stall on a few hundred calories of cheese. There's an issue with cheese (for some people) that's not explained by the calories.

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3914 · May 08, 2012 at 1:41 PM

I agree that nuts and cheese are easy to binge on, but to me, that just kicks the can down the road like all "food reward" discussion. Nuts I could buy, because I can pound nuts down like nobody's business. But cheese? It's not crunchy or salty, or anything that makes me want to stuff myself. And Atkins wasn't saying people stalled on cheese when they binged; he said 4 oz. could be a problem. Four ounces of cheddar is 456 calories. Yes, that's dense, but if you had that for lunch instead of a burger and salad, there's no reason from a calories standpoint that it should stall you. (cont.)

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722 · May 07, 2012 at 5:53 AM

Apparently everyone agrees that nuts aren't the perfect diet food! The reason is simple, as picked up by this thread already: For weight (aka FAT) loss to happen, a Calorie deficit has to occur. Nuts might not be the perfect food in that aspects, since it's fairly easy to over consume energy on a nut heavy otherwise modest diet. Many naturally occurring LC type of food, like animal flesh etc and fibrous watery plants are fairly filling in your digestive system, and difficult to over consume. But addition of to much dense easy ingestible food like most grain/sugary/vegetable oil based "crap" food, will attenuate the effect of the traditional LC foods. For many people that includes nuts, high fat dairy and other foods that are LC.

Medium avatar
10214 · May 07, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Though tortilla chips are manufactured and nuts are natural, the mix of fat and carbs is about the same. Nuts are natural junk food if you overeat them.

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3794 · May 07, 2012 at 3:30 AM

Taubes's objection to nuts is the carb content.

They're low-carb compared to other plant foods, but high-carb compared to other sources of fat.

Not sure about Wolf's recommendation. It might be carbs, calories, or N6 fats.

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5828 · May 07, 2012 at 3:08 AM

For me the issue with nuts is that I can't stop eating them so I mostly avoid them and never try to keep any of them at home. Same with nut butters. I have no trouble eating an entire 16 ounce jar of peanut butter or a pound of nuts in a sitting or three but I would never want to go through a pound of butter that fast.

A pound of almond butter, according to the USDA Nutrition Database has 2,788 calories. A pound of butter has 3,255 calories. Calories do matter when you're looking at numbers this large.

Also, nuts (and nut butters) give me gas so I know I don't digest them well. Yes, I could soak and roast the nuts but that's more trouble than I want to go through.

Finally, nuts aren't all fat. They have lots of protein and, depending on the kind of nut, they have some carb as well (not that I'm worried about carbs in nuts.) So, nuts aren't pure fat and probably digest differently.

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15400 · May 07, 2012 at 7:32 AM

Agree! Plus my stomach cannot handle them!

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5509 · May 07, 2012 at 3:36 AM

Pistachios are the worst for me:(

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4002 · May 07, 2012 at 9:03 AM

For many people, eating liberal amounts of healthy Paleo fats is not a problem and can allow them to lose/maintain their weight while eating a considerable amount of calories (i.e. Dave Asprey with his 4,500-calorie diet). With a healthy metabolism, fats are less likely to be stored as fat as carbohydrates would.

Other people are successful on a higher-fat lower-carb diet because they naturally feel more satiated with more fat and can maintain a lower calorie intake without feeling deprived.

And there is a bunch of unlucky people that just have to be careful with everything they eat. I would include many women with PCOS and some diabetics in that group. For these people, keeping an eye on their total calorie intake is still important despite following a low-carb Paleo diet.

Medium avatar
10214 · May 07, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Generally dietary fats are stored as fat, with excess dirtary carbs facilitating the process. As long as there are plenty of both in the bloodstream, de novo lipogenesis from carbs is a less likely cause of fat deposition.

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8879 · May 07, 2012 at 2:14 PM

*With a healthy metabolism, fats are less likely to be stored as fat as carbohydrates would.* This is just WRONG. Wrong, wrong, wrong. If someone loses weight on a high fat percent diet it may be that they are satiated more on such a diet so they eat LESS.

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4002 · May 07, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Dietary fats would only be stored as fat if consumed in excess and if insulin levels are low, fat deposition is less likely to happen. I am not saying dietary fat cannot be stored as body fat, quite the contrary, but that hormones play a big role in influencing how much of it is stored or not.

Medium avatar
10214 · May 07, 2012 at 2:06 PM

I think of it as being blood glucose driven. Certainly the problem is exacerbated with insulin resistance, but Atkins weight regain after carb reintroduction is a similar effect without the hormones. In both cases I believe the trigger for fat deposition is excess blood glucose in the presence of high dietary lipids.

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6719 · May 07, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Carbs are never stored as fat. They are converted to fat first if your system can not burn nor store them as glucose and then, and only then is the possibility of them being stored as fat, if, and only if they are not used for fuel.

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1397 · May 07, 2012 at 4:07 AM

Wildwabbit has it right on the part about omega-6 fatty acids. They have a lot of omega-6's which tend to upregulate inflammation in the body.

They are also seeds, and like grains, they contain defensive compounds such as lectins that can increase intestinal permeability, antinutrients such as phytates, oxalates, that can bind and inhibit the absorption of minerals, etc.

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0 · April 04, 2014 at 4:27 PM

I guess I'm a minority here. I was feeling bad about myself with everything I've been reading online about nut butters, because I eat a LOT of nut butter. I mean, a LOT. I can easily devour a jar in a sitting (not that I do that very often...ok more than I care to admit to :P). Yet here I am, 125 pounds (20 pounds lighter than I was months ago), extremely toned, and when I eat a lot of nut butter I feel so energized I walk for hours (in addition to my daily 30-40 minute workouts in the morning). If I DON'T have a high amount of fat, I'm hungry, gorging on other things, slow and cranky. Maybe my body just works differently. But I'm done guilt tripping myself over something that so far has shown no negative results. I have an addictive personality; if I cut out almond butter I will still get addicted to another food. It's just who I am.

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602 · April 04, 2014 at 6:55 PM

I am the same, and I also haven't been stalled by almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans, or any other low-carb nuts or nut butters. Maybe if people wouldn't eat the starchy ones like cashews and pistachios they might not experience as much weight gain. Also a lot of people eat "Paleo" desserts with nut flour and honey, then place the blame entirely on the nuts when they gain weight (ignoring the sugar-filled honey altogether).

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0 · June 17, 2013 at 11:51 PM

What I understood from reading about Paleo was that Fat was satiating, causing you to feel full/done so you eat less & aren't hungry. You know, kind of making it a diet aid.

Not sure how that got turned into a nut discussion. However, in my own experience, I had a tub of mixed nuts left from Christmas time & could only finish about 2/3 to 3/4 of a cup before I felt full and didn't want any more. Usually, (at that time) that 3/4 cup of nuts was lunch or maybe late breakfast on a Saturday.

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