Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

Posted by on Jun 28, 2013 in Nutrition | 211 comments

Nuts. Oh boy. Two weeks into summer and I bet a few of you parents already feel a little nutty.

You know you giggled.

But we are talking nuts, not crazy, so lets move right along here.
I got a question, via email, from an amazing friend of mine.
“I think I’ve been consuming almond flour and nuts overall way too much. What would you say is a good rule of thumb for the amount of nuts per day one should be eating?”
This friend has her bachelor’s degree in nursing, has practiced as a PICU nurse and then in urgent care, introduced me to crossfit, is an ARMY wife,  and was raised by parents and a giant extended family who fed her the most amazing, REAL food you could imagine. She also has celiacs. Eliminating gluten from her diet around age 19 made a world of difference. In the past several years, she has had great success eating paleo (during pregnancy included!).
It’s Friday, you are busy surfing the internet and pretending you are too busy to mop the kitchen floor, (I can’t be the only one doing this, right?!). So, why did I just give such a back-story? To drive home the point that wherever you are on your nutritional journey, whether you just began or you feel like an old pro, you will continue to have questions. This is a GOOD thing. Keep asking them!
(Don’t get cranky, we are getting back to nuts now.)
It was a while ago, so here is a refresher, with today’s most important part in red:
“I think I’ve been consuming almond flour and nuts overall way too much. What would you say is a good rule of thumb for the amount of nuts per day one should be eating?
If this is not a question that has crossed your mind before, I would be shocked. (Again, I can’t be the only one who has looked into the bag of almonds and gone, “holy crap….they are gone already?!?”) But then, maybe you all have it figured out and never again have to suffer through another nutrition blog.

Rule of thumb:


Which is a small handful. Which, for some of you, may feel like castration. (Get it?….no nuts! I am so inappropriate.)
No, I am not saying that nuts are BAD for you. They are  like little nutritional planets, chocked full of a lot of punch for their small size. This may seem like a good thing: which it can be in small, handful-sized doses. Nuts could also be standing in the way of your body composition goals and causing negative digestive issues when the intake looks more like a bowl full (Or like a cupcake, larabar, or three…just sayin’.)
Here are the main “why’s”:
1. Phytic Acid.
Hold onto your sunglasses for this one…nuts are often as high or even higher in phytic acid than grains. In fact, nuts decrease iron absorption even more than wheat bread. This is NOT awesome-sauce because phytic acid binds to minerals (especially iron and zinc) in food and prevents us from absorbing them. Phytic acid consumption should be limited to less than 400mg per day. One handful of almonds has over 1,100mg.  (Click here for Chris Kresser’s article)
2.Fatty Acid Ratio
Most nuts typically contain a large amount of  the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. As we eat paleo, we are working hard to increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids we eat, decrease our omega-6, and get our omega-6:omega-3 ratio as close as possible to 1:1(Check this post for a fatty acid refresher.) Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to  chow down on nuts, stock up on omega-6, and work against ourselves!
3. They hit hard
Look back over your goals. If one of them is to continue to work toward changing your body composition, then it may be time to forgo the nuts. Nuts are amazingly calorie dense, and if you are snacking on them with abandon, you may be sabotaging your waistline, even if you are eating paleo.
4. Chew on this: when following a strict ‘autoimmune protocol’, nuts are typically eliminated from the diet.
Tree nuts are one of the top allergens and most common food sensitivities.  People with autoimmune disease are very likely to have a leaky gut, which increases their susceptibility to developing food allergies and food sensitivities.  This means that people with autoimmune disease are more likely to have a sensitivity or allergy to nuts than other people.  Cutting nuts out of the diet using an elimination diet approach such as the autoimmune protocol is a good way to isolate whether nuts are a problem for you.
Too many nuts really could stand between you,  a healthy gut, and better body composition.
I  tend to save nuts for a go-to option at a party when I can’t snack on anything else, the occasional  post-workout larabar, and special treats like almond-flour pizza or the rare Sunday morning pancake. (Almond flour, while delicious, is becoming more and more suspect to me, because  if you are to break it down, it is A LOT of nuts in a tiny ‘looking’ package. But that is a question for another day!)
Am I totally against nuts? No. I don’t think you need to NOT eat them, but I DO think you should take a close look at your consumption, and that consumption should be limited.
Whether you decide to go nuts or not…the information is now yours!
And remember, keep asking questions!
Until Next Time…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>