Nuts for Weight & Fitness Goals

Whether you are a recreational athlete, a weekend warrior, social player or an ultra-endurance athlete, your body needs adequate fuel to perform at its best. And it’s also crucial to consider the long-term health effects of the foods you consume.

Nuts and weight

Nuts sometimes get a bad rap when it comes to body weight, due to their high fat and energy content. But the body of evidence tells us that regular consumption of nuts is not only integral to health, but also assists with weight management – with regular nut intake linked with reduced body weight, lower BMI and lower waist circumference. (i ii iii iv)
Nuts specifically assist with weight management and body composition
goals by:

  • Satisfying hunger and reducing appetite, due to their healthy
    unsaturated fat content (omega-3 and omega-6), dietary fibre and
    plant protein content (v)
  • Releasing satiety hormones after consumption, to keep us fuller for
  • Trapping some of the naturally-occurring fats in their fibrous walls –
    meaning our bodies don’t absorb or digest up to 30% of the
    energy from some nut varieties (vi)
  • Slowing digestion when eaten with carbohydrate-rich foods (vii) –
    helping to reduce insulin levels and giving us sustained energy for
    longer. (viii)

Nuts support active people, everyday

Nuts contain a range of nutrients important for daily health. Many of these same nutrients also enhance sporting performance and recovery, including:

  • Vitamin E, vitamin B6, niacin, folate, magnesium, zinc, non-haem iron, calcium, copper, selenium, phosphorus and potassium (ix x)
  • Phytochemicals and omega-3 fats that act as anti-inflammatories that help:
    • Boost the body’s function, immunity and recovery from exercise (xi)
    • Relieve joint pain
    • Promote muscle damage recovery from exercise
    • Protect heart health
    • Boost mood and cognition, helping with skill and decision making (xii xiii)

Despite this, 98% of Australians are not meeting the recommended serve of 30g of nuts daily. The average intake is just 4.6g/day, so many people need to increase their consumption six-fold to meet the recommendations essential for good health. (xvi)

How to eat nuts before exercise:

Most people can tolerate a meal 2-4 hours before exercise and/or a small snack 1-2 hours before exercise, without experiencing any unwanted stomach distress. Depending on the intensity of the exercise and you, as an individual, it may be better to avoid nuts too close to exercise, as they are slow to digest.

If exercise intensity is LOW and you have 2-4 HOURS to digest:

  • A handful (30g) of nuts in the main meal 2-4 hours before exercise should be tolerable. For example, sprinkle nuts on oats/cereal or in muesli, use nut butter on bread, wraps, crumpets or crackers, or blend nuts into a smoothie.

If exercise intensity is HIGH and/or you have LIMITED TIME (<2 hours) to digest:

  • It’s best to avoid nuts before and during exercise. Instead, eat nuts as part of your recovery meal/snacks and on rest days.

See below to download the full PDF Fact Sheet.

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