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

by (1672) Updated April 06, 2014 at 3:45 PM 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!

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10 Replies

9387 · 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.

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.

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.)

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.

3735 · 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.

5810 · 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.

3990 · 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.

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.

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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