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Are Walnuts Good For Weight Loss Or Fattening?

This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT

Choosing the right foods when trying to lose weight can be a challenge. What about walnuts, are they good for weight loss or fattening?

Walnuts are an extremely popular food around the world. Botanically speaking they are technically seeds, but due to their nutritional contents, many people consider them nuts.

Many people are worried about how the high-fat content of nuts and walnuts, in particular, will impact their weight loss. Find out whether this aspect of walnuts interferes with weight loss and how this nut compares to other popular nuts when it comes to losing weight.

Micronutrients in walnuts

The first thing to look at is the amount of micronutrients in walnuts.

Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.

100 grams of walnuts provides you with approximately (1):

  • Manganese: 171% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Copper: 79% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 40% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 35% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 27% of the DV
  • Folate: 25% of the DV
  • Thiamin: 23% of the DV
  • Zinc: 21% of the DV
  • Iron: 16% of the DV
  • Potassium: 13% of the DV
  • Calcium: 10% of the DV

And a few others in smaller amounts. These are very good vitamin and mineral contents per 100 grams. If you combine walnuts with a healthy diet your micronutrient levels will most likely be great.

Walnuts also contain anti-oxidants. These are substances that help your body deal with oxidative stress, damage that occurs from day to day.

Micronutrients in walnuts

Fiber in walnuts for weight loss

Another very important factor for weight loss is the amount of fiber in your food.

Walnuts contain around 6.7 grams of fiber per 100 grams.

This is a big amount compared to most other foods. And for most people this is a good thing.

Fiber has multiple benefits for weight loss. First of all, it feeds your microbiome, the microbes that live in your intestines. The health of your microbiome influences your body’s health and weight. Feeding it well is usually not a bad idea.

Fiber also helps you feel less hungry without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Hunger and cravings can be a big pitfall for people trying to lose weight, so avoiding this is a big plus.

With the amount of fiber in walnuts you can reduce the time you spend craving for food a lot.

Protein in walnuts for weight loss

Another thing in food that can help you on your weight loss journey is the amount of protein in it.

Walnuts contain about 15.2 grams of protein per 100 grams. To compare, there are 25.4 grams per 100 grams in salmon (2).

Protein is considered to be the most filling of the 3 macronutrients. Eating enough protein will also help you prevent muscle loss. Muscle helps you burn extra calories throughout the day which is very good for weight loss. Protein calories also take your body more calories to process than calories from carbs and fats.

Even though there are a few nuts with more, the amount of protein in walnuts is good for a plant-based source of protein. You will most likely also need protein from other foods but walnuts can get you on your way to your daily goals.

Do keep in mind that overdoing it with protein isn’t good either.

Are walnuts good for losing weight?

To know whether or not you can eat walnuts while trying to lose weight you still need a final piece of the puzzle. The amount of calories in walnuts.

Walnuts contain around 654 calories per 100 grams. 55.4 of these calories come from the carbohydrates (13.7 g per 100 grams of which 6.7 g fiber).

You can definitely fit in some walnuts in low-carb diets like the keto diet even though they are slightly lower on the list of low-carb nuts.

On the one hand you have these awesome amounts of micronutrients, fiber and plant-based protein but on the other hand, you have this large amount of calories.

The thing is that the calorie content from nuts does not get absorbed that well compared to many other foods (3, 4). A part of these calories goes through your gut undigested.

The exact amount varies but some studies find that 5%-20% of the fat from nuts may go through indigested (5, 6, 7, 8). Chances are this varies from individual to individual and situation to situation.

On top of that walnuts are high in omega 3 fats. It is not yet clear exactly how much of a difference this makes when it comes to weight loss.

Even with that in mind, the message is that it might be hard to fit in the calories from walnuts in your daily diet plan but it might be worth it.

You also don’t have to go for the full 100 grams every day. 30 grams could be enough to provide you with some great nutrients without skyrocketing the number of calories you consume every day.

Depending on your current diet a certain amount of walnuts can help you lose weight by helping you feel a lot fuller and helping you consume more protein. This can help you avoid high-calorie foods that may interfere with your weight loss.

Walnuts can be a great healthy snack for weight loss but if you overdo it, they might be fattening due to the high amount of calories in them.

Who should not eat walnuts

While walnuts can be a great addition to the diet for most people, some people are allergic to it.

Are walnuts good for losing weight

How many walnuts should you eat a day to lose weight?

Nutrition is always a bit of a puzzle in terms of what the perfect diet looks like. It’s a pretty individual thing.

A typical serving of 1 ounce walnuts is about 14 walnut halves.

Some people use this 1 oz serving size as a daily recommendation but in reality, it isn’t as simple as that. There is for example no way that a 200-pound man and 140-pound woman should eat the same amount of walnuts a day to lose weight.

You need to determine for yourself how many walnuts fit in your daily calories. The amount will be different from individual to individual from day to day, it can be 0 too.

Best time to eat walnuts for weight loss

Eating food raises insulin levels, even if it is a more low carb food like peanuts. Insulin in turn can mess with the production of sleep hormones. On top of that, your body doesn’t like to digest and sleep at the same time. Sleep is important for your weight loss and health.

For those reasons the best time to eat walnuts for weight loss is any time that is not too close to your bedtime.

This wouldn’t mean the end of your weight loss and health but if you can eat them at a more beneficial time why not.

Walnuts vs other popular nuts for weight loss

Walnuts vs other popular nuts for weight loss

You now know how good walnuts are for weight loss but how do they compare to certain other popular nuts? Find out how good walnuts are for weight loss vs pecans, almonds, cashews, and peanuts.

Walnuts vs pecans

First of all, there is the walnuts vs pecans comparison. Pecans are slightly higher in calories than walnuts, 691 calories per 100 grams vs the 654 calories per 100 grams of walnuts (9).

Pecans contain around 9.6 grams of fiber per 100 grams. A relatively big amount higher than the 6.7 grams of fiber per 100 grams in walnuts. Pecans contain about 9.2 grams of protein per 100 grams, walnuts 15.2 grams. These 2 foods are similar when it comes to the amounts of vitamins and minerals.

The difference will be very small but walnuts are likely slightly better than pecans for weight loss.

Walnuts vs almonds

The next comparison is with almonds. Almonds are lower in calories than walnuts, 575 calories per 100 grams vs the 654 calories per 100 grams of walnuts (10).

Almonds contain around 12.2 grams of fiber per 100 grams. A big amount higher than the 6.7 grams of fiber per 100 grams in walnuts. Almonds contain about 21.2 grams of protein per 100 grams. Almonds have slightly bigger amounts of vitamins and minerals than walnuts.

Almonds are very likely better for weight loss than walnuts.

Walnuts vs cashews

Cashews are another popular comparison. Cashews are lower in calories, 553 calories per 100 grams (11).

The amount of fiber is a lot different. Cashews have about 3.3 grams of fiber per 100 grams vs the 6.7 grams of walnuts. Cashews contain about 18.2 grams of protein per 100 grams, which is slightly higher than walnuts. In terms of the amount of vitamins and minerals, walnuts and cashews are very similar.

The difference in calories will make cashews likely better for weight loss than walnuts.

Walnuts vs peanuts

Lastly the comparison between walnuts and peanuts. Peanuts contain a smaller amount of calories than walnuts, 567 calories per 100 grams (12).

Peanuts have more fiber per 100 grams than walnuts, 8.5 grams. Peanuts are higher in protein per 100 grams, 25.8 grams vs the 15.2 grams in walnuts. Both of these nuts are very high in vitamins and minerals.

Peanuts are likely better than walnuts for weight loss.

Chart of walnuts vs other popular nuts

There are some interesting differences in nutritional content that will most likely matter when it comes to weight loss. As you can see, there are better nuts for weight loss than walnuts.

The amount of vitamins and minerals in the foods does matter for weight loss and health but you can’t simplify that in one number. You can check out the numbers for walnuts (1), pecans (9), almonds (10), cashews (11), and peanuts (12) to compare.

Values Per 100gWalnutsPecansAlmondsCashewsPeanuts
Calories654 calories691 calories575 calories553 calories567 calories
Fiber6.7 g9.6 g12.2 g3.3 g8.5 g
Protein15.2 g9.2 g21.2 g18.2 g25.8 g
Chart comparing walnuts vs other nuts for weight loss