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    waharris007's Avatar
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    Nuts: How much is too much?

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    I've been pretty much primal for the past three months. I'm over the carb flu and all that, which is fantastic, as I've been a long-time carb junkie! Sweets aren't really a problem for me. I've always been a crunchy snacker. With pretzels and Chex mix out of my life, that pretty much leaves nuts for crunchy snacks. I've read a lot of posts where people have heavily cautioned against too much, though. Can someone share some insight here?

    I'm 6'5" (male), 191 pounds, and around 13-14% body fat. My macro breakdown is generally 50% fat, 30% protein, and 20% carb. My daily calories are in the 2000-2200 range (with carbs around or under 100g), and I work out four days a week (mix of bodyweight resistance and interval cardio). I eat anywhere from 2-4oz of walnuts, almonds and pecans every day. It's not taking me out of calorie range (I may actually be low), and it's a good source of fat for me. I would like to drop some stubborn belly fat, though. What should I know about nuts that I don't know?

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    PokeyBug's Avatar
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    You need to look at the n-3/n-6 fatty acid ratios in nuts. Simply put, n-6 fatty acids are inflammatory, n-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. According to my reading (Robb Wolf-I love that lil' geek, lol!), we need to strive to keep our fatty acid ratios in balance to avoid excessive inflammation in our bodies, and inflammation leads to many of the common DOCs (Diseases of Civilization). A ratio of 1.5 n-6 to 1 n-3 is optimal.

    I love crunchy snacks, too, and this is not to say that you can't snack on nuts at all. Just keep it in moderation, like a small handful. Munch on some raw carrots, celery or broccoli to get your snack fix if just a handful of nuts isn't going to satisfy. (JMO... YMMV!)

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    Shamra Byrne's Avatar
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    Be careful with nuts. They are one paleo/primal food that is really easy to gain weight while eating regularly because they contain so many calories. A small handful of nuts can be anywhere from 140 calories - 220 calories, and I don't know about you, but I can eat way more than a small handful!!

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    Calories don't make you fat - sugar makes you fat. I eat 1.5 times my caloric needs with no weight gain and 7% body fat. Prior to going "Primal", I was 14% body fat and wasn't lean, eating at, or under my recommended caloric needs.

    I also use to exercise 3 x per week. I now only do once per week and I have shredded...

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    Furan's Avatar
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    Nuts are a hot topic around here. Don't hesitate to google the forum for answers, particularly regarding nuts There are already many threads.
    About that stubborn belly fat you're talking about, I can only say that in my experience, intermittent fasting (IF) was most helpful - my understanding is that it helped me regulate my appetite and my digestion (which IMO is a huge factor for the way your belly looks) even further.

    However, since you've been primal for "only" three months, try to give it some more time. The adjustment is not that brutal, and if you're interested in IF, read these blog posts : Who should try fasting, IF : how-to

    As I said in another post, I'm no expert but I can recommend two recent threads :

    Am i eating too many nuts?!
    And this post : How much nuts is too much nuts?

    Chrisflyer mentioned it : exercise will help but the greatest part of the way your body is gonna look and feel is about how you eat.
    @Chrisflyer : maybe you were thinking about the Gary Taubes google talk ?
    see this thread
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    brahnamin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisflyer View Post
    Calories don't make you fat - sugar makes you fat. I eat 1.5 times my caloric needs with no weight gain and 7% body fat. Prior to going "Primal", I was 14% body fat and wasn't lean, eating at, or under my recommended caloric needs.

    I also use to exercise 3 x per week. I now only do once per week and I have shredded...
    Perhaps. I

    'm not at all convinced that calories don't matter at all. I don't subscribe to the whole calories-in/calories-out paradigm. But to pretend they don't matter at all doesn't make much sense to me. Likewise, I suspect they matter even more to someone with a broken metabolism than they do to someone who is in shape (and yeah, at over 50% bf I call 14% bf in-shape).

    If anything I think the *Formula* to determine whether we are eating *over* or *under* our *caloric-needs* is probably just as broken as conventional wisdom. Particularly given the number of variables in that equation that are incalculable.

    As to the nut question, I think you absolutely can eat too many.

    Even macadamias have carbohydrates (19g per cup) and other nuts/nutty-legumes have even more (almonds have 27g, cashews have 45g, pistachios have 34). At a quarter cup a day (or less), nuts aren't so bad. But shortly after I first went primal I was eating nearly 2 cups a day of macadamia nuts. 40 grams of carbs and nearly 2000 calories. My initial weight loss stopped cold and that was my only real change after the change of going primal.

    *shrUg*

    It got me over the hump, so I don't consider those weeks lost, but I didn't start losing weight again until I reined in my nut consumption.

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    waharris007's Avatar
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    Thanks, all. I'll check out the links. I track my food every day, so I know I'm not busting my carbs and calories with them. I take an Omega 3 supplement every day, so that shouldn't be a huge issue. I've done a lot of reading about IF but haven't jumped in yet. I've ALWAYS done the 5-6 meals/day thing, so IF would really shake things up. I think I'm going to make a few changes for a month and see what happens. That'll include totally removing Diet Coke (I know, I know...), cutting my nut consumption in half, and trying a 16-hour IF once or twice a week.

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    Furan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waharris007 View Post
    Thanks, all. I'll check out the links. I track my food every day, so I know I'm not busting my carbs and calories with them. I take an Omega 3 supplement every day, so that shouldn't be a huge issue. I've done a lot of reading about IF but haven't jumped in yet. I've ALWAYS done the 5-6 meals/day thing, so IF would really shake things up. I think I'm going to make a few changes for a month and see what happens. That'll include totally removing Diet Coke (I know, I know...), cutting my nut consumption in half, and trying a 16-hour IF once or twice a week.
    Do not push yourself too hard, though. You don't have to rush into it. As I said, the entire process of going primal can take much longer than 3 months, depending on your initial metabolism.

    Good luck !
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  9. #9
    Lewis's Avatar
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    "Too much" may also be coming from Edward Howell by way of Sally Fallon and others.

    Back around the time of the Great War Howell (then, I think, a medical student) wondered if a diet of uncooked foods would be more healthful than a normal diet—on account he knew that some nutrients were heat labile. Anyway, he decided that raw meat would probably not be a good idea and concluded that raw nuts could replace it.

    Result: "an unpleasant heavy sensation in the abdomen and a feeling of extreme fullness and some nausea".

    He later said:

    If you eat substantial quantities of raw pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts or others, you have a choice of swallowing enzyme capsules with them to neutralize their enzyme inhibitors or first germinating the nuts and letting nature do the job through increased enzyme acitivty resuting from germination.
    Edward Howell, MD Food Enzymes for Health and Longevity

    His experiment, as I say, was around 1918, whereas enzyme inhibitors weren't known about till 1944.

    As I understand it, the problem is that minerals are chemically "held" in the seeds until it's ready to germinate—at which time they are, of course, needed. The following description applies to oats, but similar processes are true of other seeds:

    As a seed-bearing plant reaches that post- flowering point of actually making a seed, it's intent on packing all of the necessary building blocks for the life of the next generation into each seed. This provide-for-the-next- generation process involves some sophisticated bio-chemistry. Many of the minerals and trace minerals involved in a growing plant are unstable in their pure, atomic, elemental or ionic form, except when dissolved. I.e. in solution in the sap-stream of the plant. Zinc, phosphorous, magnesium and calcium are examples. To make them stable, they're converted by the plant's bio-chemical processes into a large, complex and highly stable chain molecule called a phytate, e.g. Calcium phytate.
    However, to ensure that such essential minerals are available to the next generation, to the newly germinating seed-cum-plant-to- come, the parent plant also sequesters an enzyme in the germ and husk of the maturing seed. This enzyme is capable of breaking the bonds between those essential mineral atoms and the phytate molecule. The latent potential of these enzymes is activated by the same water that germinates the seed. Once activated, the enzyme then needs anything from 6 to 12 hours to "get around" the germinating seed and 'unlock' the essential minerals for the developing plant.
    You don't actually have to germinate a seed (sunflower seed, oat groat, hazelnut, whatever): there are other ways of neutralizing enzyme inhibitors.

    And despite enzyme inhibitors you can eat nuts (and, of course, ***heresy alert*** oats, etc.) but you need to be a little circumspect about it, pre-treating the food to minimize the problem.

    Ms. Fallon notes in Nourishing Traditions that the Aztecs used to soak sunflower seeds in salted water and then dry them. That works. Sally Fallon seems to tend to believe that traditional societies, so to speak, knew what they were doing (even if they didn't have an articulate understanding of what they were doing). Whereas, presumably, the same is not true of societies continually undergoing rapid change and in which people are busy and over-stimulated so that they don't notice things.

    Sally Fallon also notes that North American Indians ground nuts like pecans and added them to water. I'm not sure about that one—I think that may have been rather a labour-saving process, a case of mashing them up, shell and all, and then using the water to separate the meat, which floats, from the shell, which sinks. And I don't know they added salt, which helps.

    Further, I don't know that all people who ate more than a negligible quantity of nuts always pre-processed them in some way. But it seems wise, if it's not too much trouble.

    Anyway ... unless you process nuts to deal with the enzyme inhibitors in them "too many" will give you a bellyache if nothing more. What's "too many"? I guess if you try to use them as a replacement for meat, as Howells did, it's too many. Ideally, I suppose it would be best to soak all nuts in salted water for 24 hours and then dry them in a dehydrator or a low oven. But a few raw nuts are probably no problem. I couldn't quantify it. I'd guess a handful—say an ounce or so—is all right.

  10. #10
    john_e_turner_ii's Avatar
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    If you eat nuts in moderation, then they shouldn't be a problem. A serving daily is not bad, which comes to about an ounce or two.

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