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How much nuts is too much nuts?

by (1510)
Updated about 4 hours ago
Created October 04, 2010 at 3:11 PM

I'm always seeing warnings against eating too many nuts while on Paleo, since they are high in calories, addictive, and not a substitute for eat lean meats and fish. But I've always been terrible with the vague concept of moderation, so I'd love to get some numbers on this. Would 1/3 a cup per day be alright or is that already excessive?

Right now, I'm eating about one handful of raw nuts per day at breakfast, which is probably 1/3 cup, with some raw veggies. My reasoning for this breakfast is that I'm allergic to eggs, I've found that eating fruit or any kind of starchy veggie causes me to be anxious and unfocused and experience cravings all day long, and I wanted something a bit different from dinner and lunch, which is veggies and meat/fish.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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3756 · January 28, 2012 at 12:45 AM

Joy- Cashews have always been paleo. Peanuts aren't.

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1363 · January 27, 2012 at 3:14 PM

When did cashews become Paleo? I've seen a lot about them recently, and I thought they were a no no prior to this?

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1363 · January 27, 2012 at 3:12 PM

I think you are good with 1/3 a cup a day. That's not too much.

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783 · October 05, 2010 at 6:58 PM

ps - I just made some almond butter from scratch again and this time I measured precisely. 1 cup of whole almonds ground until smooth in food processor turned into just 1/3 cup of almond butter! So there is a big difference between 1 handful of nuts (what Olga is doing, totally fine) and eating almond butter by the tablespoon (or 2-3+). I think this is where people run into trouble with nuts.

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4896 · October 05, 2010 at 5:45 PM

oh! that's awesome, I feel better to cave in once in a while :)

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1510 · October 05, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Is there some secret affordable macadamias that I'm missing? They're delicious, but I can't imagine coughing up that much cash just for nuts.

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15966 · October 04, 2010 at 11:26 PM

def vote for the macadamias if you are going for nuts. Mac Nut Oil is the ONLY nut/veg oil other than olive oil that i consume. I myself dont consume nuts but i know tons of people do, and thrive on them. I have always felt that they were "heavy" on my stomach. Just dont feel too well after consuming them, although they taste wonderful. That feeling is all i need to make my own decision. Like i said though, i personally know some hardcore exercisers that do just fine on em.

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717 · October 04, 2010 at 6:53 PM

It's worth noting that virtually every epidemiologic study I've seen has shown health benefits to consuming nuts (Yes I do realize that there are problems with epidemiologic data). This is even more astonishing when you consider that the "nuts" most people are consuming are actually legumes (peanuts) that have been roasted in rancid omega-6 oils that are probably rancid.

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1510 · October 04, 2010 at 6:16 PM

It seems like Mark Sisson advocates for that exact approach -- eat a lot over two-three days and then not have any for weeks. Probably pretty reminiscent of a caveman stumbling upon a windfall of nuts one day but then not finding any for months.

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1510 · October 04, 2010 at 4:16 PM

Mark Sisson seems to say 1/4 cup of nuts every few days, so I guess it's time to dial my consumption down.

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56596 · October 04, 2010 at 4:13 PM

My breakfast blend when I'm too busy/rushed to cook is macadamia nuts and dried coconut.

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2759 · October 04, 2010 at 4:02 PM

Don't forget coconut!

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22913 · October 04, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Go for macadamias, virtually no Pufa and tasty

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c
3756 · October 04, 2010 at 3:30 PM

I don't think I would say they're "more paleo"; I know a lot of low-carb paleo folks don't eat them to stay trim. Mark Sisson wrote a good primer on nuts, and their O6 content: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/nuts-omega-6-fats/ It's important to follow your O6/O3 ratio to avoid inflammation, but whatever works for you!

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1510 · October 04, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Raw cashews, pecans, and walnuts. I try to mix it up. Are some nuts better than others in regard to being "more paleo" ?

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Cb2415c2aef964ab499a09dc92ae7e01
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783 · October 05, 2010 at 1:36 PM

I have been thinking about this myself. When paleo people talk nuts you usually hear concerns about:

  • Omega6 ratio. I am not the expert here but perhaps there is a difference between grain fed sedentary animals (and certainly processed vegetable oils) and nuts that fall from a tree in a natural state. There are different types of cholesterol; could there be more harmful and even beneficial omega6 fats?

  • Calories. OK sure nuts are calorie dense and if trying to lose weight obviously counter-productive. 2 Tb almond butter has nearly 200 calories which is 1.5 cans of tuna! A few days ago made some almond butter from scratch. It took a lot of nuts to make a small amount of almond butter. If there is a jar of almond butter around I can eat a couple spoons, but if eating the whole nuts I would never eat that many. Nut butters are the paleo pastry, ie processed like white flour. Eating them whole or perhaps even better immediately after shelling it is much harder to overdo.

That said I think there are some benefits. As NastyBrutishandShort mentioned, there are some positive studies. Here is a quote from a recent one:

"Our findings confirm the results of epidemiological studies showing that nut consumption lowers coronary heart disease risk and support the inclusion of nuts in therapeutic dietary interventions for improving blood lipid levels and lipoproteins and for lowering coronary heart disease risk," write lead investigator Dr Joan Sabat?? (Loma Linda University, CA) and colleagues in the May 11, 2010 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine."

Dr Al Sears is not often cited in the paleo scene but he has been recommending a paleo-like diet for many years (in addition to interval exercise) and he recommends them. Most nuts contain very high levels of magesium which seems to be a very important mineral and one of the few things that a lot of paleo people are willing to take as a supplement.

Native Americans ate hazelnuts, walnuts, hickory nuts, pine nuts, pecans; Aboriginal people ate macademias; almonds are native to the middle east but any gatherers would have feasted on them. Lastly, even when meat was plentiful most hunter-gatherers still ate a lot of food from plants and surely this would have included nuts. I think this is an interesting point. OK yes you can survive on meat alone and certainly couldn't on nuts alone, but still this suggests optimal is meat + plant foods including some nuts.

Bottom line a handful as snack or with meal seems like a good idea if you aren't trying to lose weight.

Cb2415c2aef964ab499a09dc92ae7e01
783 · October 05, 2010 at 6:58 PM

ps - I just made some almond butter from scratch again and this time I measured precisely. 1 cup of whole almonds ground until smooth in food processor turned into just 1/3 cup of almond butter! So there is a big difference between 1 handful of nuts (what Olga is doing, totally fine) and eating almond butter by the tablespoon (or 2-3+). I think this is where people run into trouble with nuts.

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4896 · October 04, 2010 at 5:44 PM

I have the same problem, or at least similar. I know when I ate too much, but can't control it, I love macadamias too much! But if I have a very strong cravings for them, I would eat a lot over two-three days and then not have any for weeks. I think that can work as well. I am allergic to most other nuts, so it's not an issue to me.

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4896 · October 05, 2010 at 5:45 PM

oh! that's awesome, I feel better to cave in once in a while :)

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1510 · October 04, 2010 at 6:16 PM

It seems like Mark Sisson advocates for that exact approach -- eat a lot over two-three days and then not have any for weeks. Probably pretty reminiscent of a caveman stumbling upon a windfall of nuts one day but then not finding any for months.

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3756 · October 04, 2010 at 3:16 PM

What kind of nuts?

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c
3756 · January 28, 2012 at 12:45 AM

Joy- Cashews have always been paleo. Peanuts aren't.

D1728f99db66ff91d695a6df5cd38b02
1363 · January 27, 2012 at 3:14 PM

When did cashews become Paleo? I've seen a lot about them recently, and I thought they were a no no prior to this?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc
15966 · October 04, 2010 at 11:26 PM

def vote for the macadamias if you are going for nuts. Mac Nut Oil is the ONLY nut/veg oil other than olive oil that i consume. I myself dont consume nuts but i know tons of people do, and thrive on them. I have always felt that they were "heavy" on my stomach. Just dont feel too well after consuming them, although they taste wonderful. That feeling is all i need to make my own decision. Like i said though, i personally know some hardcore exercisers that do just fine on em.

E46d4f7e35e46ee4e8211ab4bc852023
1510 · October 04, 2010 at 4:16 PM

Mark Sisson seems to say 1/4 cup of nuts every few days, so I guess it's time to dial my consumption down.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795
2759 · October 04, 2010 at 4:02 PM

Don't forget coconut!

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1
22913 · October 04, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Go for macadamias, virtually no Pufa and tasty

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c
3756 · October 04, 2010 at 3:30 PM

I don't think I would say they're "more paleo"; I know a lot of low-carb paleo folks don't eat them to stay trim. Mark Sisson wrote a good primer on nuts, and their O6 content: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/nuts-omega-6-fats/ It's important to follow your O6/O3 ratio to avoid inflammation, but whatever works for you!

E46d4f7e35e46ee4e8211ab4bc852023
1510 · October 04, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Raw cashews, pecans, and walnuts. I try to mix it up. Are some nuts better than others in regard to being "more paleo" ?

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10 · June 14, 2013 at 4:33 PM

I'm with you Sarah. I eat at least a cup a day between Almonds (.5 cup), Pecans (1/4 cup) and Walnuts (1/4 cup), with a break from each type of nut of about 2 days a week where I don't eat that type of nut at all. I mix them in with my veggie shake and just as a snack before I eat my berries. And I just had an MRI done and my inflammatory factors came in low, so the hell with it.

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20787 · October 05, 2010 at 3:33 AM

I think the main problem is we don't know. So we are vague. My gut instinct is one handful a day is probably an OK amount but not much more. If it helps you be happier and satiated, there is also something to be said for that. On the flip side, for foods we are not sure of, it's probably better not to eat tons of it. I don't really trust epidemiological studies that much.

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2759 · October 04, 2010 at 4:01 PM

No more than the amount that helps you attain your health goals. Unfortunately, vague is the order of the day when narrowing down general principles to specific quantities for a particular person.

I'd go with the Mark's Daily Apple link that Ben recommended and add that you should probably get unheated (not roasted, toasted, boiled, fried, etc.) to reduce the amount of rancid nut oils you consume. Better yet, get them as fresh as you can and shell them yourself.

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118 · October 04, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Primal Toad also has some really good info about the nutritional breakdown of different types of nuts:

http://www.primaltoad.com/nuts-nutrition-1/ http://www.primaltoad.com/nuts-nutrition-2/

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0 · June 14, 2013 at 11:09 AM

I'm eating almonds like they are going out of fashion nom nom too nice but screw it - they are full of good fats , I train hard and I need them )

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0 · June 20, 2012 at 7:22 AM

Oh man.... I am screwed. I just read through the thread and I am eating waaaaaay too much nuts. I have made a "paleo trail mix" which consists of spanish almonds, sunflower seeds, dehydrated blueberries, dried cranberries, dried pears (not much) and dried cherries.... I must of had 10 handfuls today alone.... ugh!

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630 · January 27, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Just "fit day"ed my nuts for the am an it says over 800 calories. Roughly 4 servings of 3T worth of mix cashews, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries.... then I had 6 brussel sprouts and 1/2 ground beef.

I'm tracking not for the caloric intake but rather the carbs. So I should be ok for the day.... calories just thru me.

so far here is my intake (so far) for the day..... Total 1,413 fats 111.1 carbs 60.0 protein 65.3

Food for the rest of the day is planned to be 2 fried eggs with 1/2 sautéed spinach, strawberries, and steak for dinner with salad.

Daily total 2,230 F 160.3 C 73.0 P 144

Actually that looks pretty good. Heading to a hot yoga session now.

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1626 · October 05, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Nuts are a great snack or as a topping to other foods. I enjoyed a stir fry for dinner on Sunday night and added some sliced almonds. I personally do not eat nuts often. But, when one is struggling financially then they can be a good way to consume healthy calories.

I believe macadamias are the healthiest since they have by far the least amount of omega 6's at only .36 grams per serving. I LOVE macadamia butter.

I would say 1/3 C of nuts a day is ok but quality meat is definitely more optimal.

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0 · October 04, 2010 at 6:27 PM

I'm addicted to macadamias! I eat about 100gr every day.

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1510 · October 05, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Is there some secret affordable macadamias that I'm missing? They're delicious, but I can't imagine coughing up that much cash just for nuts.

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