Good calories

Nuts are good calories.

I’m not a big fan of the omega-6 fatty acid linoleate, but that’s largely in the context of processed foods and confectioneries, where it’s more than likely no longer in it’s native form (Dc9,1218:2n6)… but in the context of unprocessed whole foods (eg, nuts), a little n6 is fine imo.

What are good calories?  They’re nutrient-dense and don’t generally lead to overeating… like the opposite of soda and junk food.  Nuts are low carb and many are highly ketogenic (eg, Brazils, macadamias, and pecans are ~90%fat).  Mr. Ramsey may even approve of macadamias because they have virtually zero PUFAs.

BONUS: magnesium, copper, selenium, many trace minerals and micronutrients, etc., etc.

I’m not saying you should crack open a can of Deluxe Mixed Nuts and sit down with nothing to do other than NOM NOM NOM ALL THE NUTZ.  I’m talking about a few nuts with a meal.  Possibly earlier in the day (coinciding with LIGHT); nuts are tryptophan-rich and this may improve melatonin onset -> good for circadian rhythms:


nuts and melatonin



Appetitive, dietary, and health effects of almonds consumed with meals or as snacks: a randomized controlled trial (Tan and Mattes, 2013)

In this study, the participants were instructed to eat a serving of almonds (~43g, ~245 kcal) daily for four weeks, at different times of the day (with breakfast, midmorning snack, lunch, or afternoon snack).

Regardless of when the almonds were consumed, the calories were practically completely compensated for.  The participants unwittingly ate less other stuff.  And in 3 out of 4 of the conditions, the almonds were so satiating that the participants actually ended up eating fewer overall calories.

That, in a nutshell, is what I call “good calories,” and I don’t think it’s too far from Taubes’ original definition… especially because it was accompanied with [modest] reductions in body fat (NS).  To be clear, they were instructed to eat more (in the form of almonds), but ended up eating less, BECAUSE ALMONDS.  This wasn’t a cross-sectional study, so no healthy user bias or other obvious confounders.

Further, the participants clearly weren’t obesity resistant.  They were overweight, obese, or lean with a strong family history of type 2 diabetes.  Sam Feltham would’ve been excluded.

This is not an isolated finding: another study showed a dose-dependent response to almonds: 28g or 42g consumed in the morning resulted in a compensatory reduction of hunger and total energy intake at lunch and dinner (Hull et al., 2014).  This wouldn’t happen with soda or junk food.



Another study tested ~350 kcal almonds daily for 10 weeks and concluded: “Ten weeks of daily almond consumption did not cause a change in body weight. This was predominantly due to compensation for the energy contained in the almonds through reduced food intake from other sources” (Hollis and Mattes, 2007).

Almonds vs. complex carbs? Almonds, FTW.

1 Brazil nut daily: “After 6 months, improvements in verbal fluency and constructional praxis (two measures of cognitive performance) were significantly greater on the supplemented group when compared with the control group.”    ONE FRIGGIN’ NUT!


Walnuts protect against alcohol-induced liver damage (in rats) (Bati et al., 2015) and may improve brain health (in humans) (Poulose et al., 2014).

Pistachios improve metabolic and vascular parameters (Kasliwal et al., 2015).

Meta-analysis (not an intervention study): nut consumption is associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality (Grosso et al., 2015). Yeah yeah yeah, I know, correlation =/= causation.  Whatever.

Nuts are good calories.  That’s all I’m saying.


Tl;dr: buy these and one of these, not this.


calories proper


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  • George

    Nuts and epidemiology – vitamin E, especially in LCHF/Paleo circles, is like the Pluto of micronutrients, in danger of being overlooked or excluded.
    Sure, it has no obvious co-factor role that has YET been discovered, and the need for its antioxidant role is probably reduced by clever diet composition, but spare a thought for what might be termed an exogenous hormone role.
    Vitamin E inhibits protein kinase C; this reduction in activity can produce a host of benefits

    But is also a potent thing to mess with.
    Hence low-dose vitamin E trials are associated with benefit, high-dose with harm.

    Eating nuts is an easy way to get vitamin E intakes in the optimal range.

    • interestingly, almonds are overflowing with vit E whereas it’s practically absent from macas…
      possibly [or at least partially] due to the big difference in PUFAs (almonds >> macas)

      • Almonds are much healthier than macs from a nutritional standpoint. They have nice fiber, a decent punch of protein, lots of minerals.

        Macs are almost like, oil in nut form. Their virtue is being monofats which are fabulous for metabolic health, best keto and lowest insulin with monofat.

    • This Old Housewife

      And we need more Vitamin E the older we get.

  • jasmine johend

    Where do peanuts come in the picture Bill? Highest protein profile I think but get a bad rap. I would think like almonds they would be largely undigested. I love brazils but nothing worse than a rancid one, taste orrible.

    • NateHiggers

      peanuts are legumes, not nuts

      • fwiw, I find these labels to be somewhat irrelevant to human nutrition/biology

      • George

        Nonetheless peanuts have similar vitamin mineral and macronutrient composition to tree nuts, just a little cruder and with a more allergenic protein and some aflatoxin and resveratrol.
        The most convincing support for the idea that nuts are beneficial in epidemiology is the fact that peanut butter has a slighter but similar benefit.
        Peanut butter is not a health halo food, is associated with jelly and white bread, is processed with added sugar and oil and convenient. A lazy snack.
        This makes claims made for tree nuts in the same papers look a bit more plausible.

    • Good calories: Effects of chronic peanut consumption on energy balance and hedonics.

      • jasmine johend

        Thanks I know wooo thinks highly of peanuts and I noticed unshelled ones in shop which I haven’t seen in a while. Would be a slow way to eat them. By the way have you gently crushed and grilled macadamias ..melt in mouth absolute heaven and very very satiating. Even I couldn’t overeat!

        • This Old Housewife

          I’m trying this–macs are the only nut I can tolerate. I currently make a “poor man’s Bullet-proof tea” by making a cup of decaf, adding stevia and mac nut oil, then stirring. I get the same effect as BP coffee. No need for a blender.

    • Acute and second-meal effects of peanuts on glycaemic response andappetite in obese women with high type 2 diabetes risk: a randomised cross-over clinical trial.

    • Regular intake of high-oleic peanuts improves fat oxidation and body composition in overweight/obese men pursuing a energy-restricted diet.

    • Lower energy intake following consumption of Hi-oleic and regular peanuts compared with iso-energetic consumption of potato crisps.

    • APPETITE WISE peanuts are okay but for some reason i find they make my mood kinda funky . Emotionally feel better avoiding them.

      • jasmine johend

        Apologies I must have misunderstood.

      • interesting.
        GLA (high in peanuts) used to be recommended for hot flashes, a hormonal effect of the downstream prostaglandins (or something). Maybe that has something to do with it…

  • Jack Kruse

    Bill I used nuts in my 2013 bio hack on resistant starch reversal. I did a webinar on it. For those who want to go deeper into why nuts are solid their are four smaller studies between 1992 and 2002 that we should all look at. They are Adventist Health Study, Iowa Women’s Health Study, Nurses Health Study, and Physician’s Health Study. The key recent studies are two landmark studies published in 2013. The first is the PREDIMED Study and the second is the 2013 Harvard NEJM report. It is one of the best ways to re-couple ubiquitin to the cell cycle. And I like that you used AM light exposure to the story because it is a key. When you dig into the numbers of these studies the key factor is all cause mortality drops in dose related fashion. It is one of the better antidotes for a reversal of a bad environment. The strongest reason is to reduce your cardiovascular disease risk. This is the number one cause of death in humans. The studies showed 24-55% risk reduction, based on dose of nuts. The next strongest reason to indulge in nuts is to reduce your risk of cancer. There was a 9-40% risk reduction, again based on dose of nuts. Dig into the data and you see nuts can also reduces your risk of a variety of other diseases like pulmonary disease (10-19% risk reduction), infectious diseases (17-32%), and kidney disease (31-48%). All cause mortality drops by 20% with 7 servings of nuts per week. I now use sprinkled nuts on many of my AM seafood omelets. The PREDIMED study used an Epi-paleo Rx like diet while combined with 3 servings of mixed nuts per week. Here there was a 39% reduction in all cause mortality. I believe like wine, chocolate, and blueberries nuts polyphenols protect DHA from oxidative damage during assimilate and this allows more tissue level DHA expression to generate more accurate signaling within cells. DHA, SIRT 1 due to polyphenols, and NAD+ is a great Rx for optimal health when it is mixed with AM solar radiation to get the proper frequency of light. Good stuff Bill.

  • Mr. Ramsey may even approve of macadamias because they have virtually zero PUFAs.

    ^^^LOL BILL

    ok here’s the deal, most days awf i wake up and for breakkie i eat my fill of macadmia, pecan, almonds, and 2-3 squares of 85% dfark chocolate. I get full and ready to go after about 2 ounces max.

    I then fast/eat v. lightly until dinner where i eat lots of fewds in a few hr window. I may snack lightly on nuts b4 dinner or have an ounce of heavy cream w coffee or an egg , or a piece of cheese, but not really a meal.

    This is my version of fasting 🙂
    Get some benefits of meal time restriction but w/o requiring being cold and fail. If i try to just eat NOTHING i have to struggle all day feeling badly.

    I cant think of any food other than nuts/butter/chocolate/heavy cream and other ketogenic ratio foods that would facilitate easy fasting w/o tanking energy . Even scrambled eggs is worse and more insulin cuz of the protein.

    Through trial:effort the foods that allow me to fast easily until dinner are likely the least insulinogenic ad most ketogenic. Macs, pecans, heavy cream/butter are tops.

    Eating less food when almonds replace other stuff is expected. They are sooo insulin inhibiting way better than even meat. Like stated, if i woke up and tried to eat “meat” for breakkie i would get insulin drag, fog, hunger 1.5 hrs i know woo. But this NEVER happens with nuts, esp the more ketogenic ones like macs and pecans.



    • Nutty_da_Squirrel

      Any chance you can go back to school and take lessons in remedial spelling and grammar? You’ve made it a point to everyone that you eat a ton of nuts, as I do, but not sure if it’s the reeson y u kant spel..!?

      I think you’re nuts.
      I KNOW you’re nuts.


      • Beta Hydroxybutyrate

        Everyone knows your nuts, puto.

        • Nutty_da_Squirrel

          Chupame la polla!

  • Thomas Hemming Larsen

    Wouldn’t having a variety of nuts be beneficial? Even though almonds have a lot vitamin E, I guess each nut has it own strength. What about raw coconuts?

  • This Old Housewife

    In a nutshell…HAHAHAHA! I myself noticed a decrease in inflammation when the Omega-6 is offset by a matching amount of Omega-3, and it works especially well on my post-menopausal rosacea.

  • Gerard Pinzone

    Well, well. Let’s see if a healthy food that has a negative “environmental impact of food production” as mentioned by the DGAC here: extends to plant-based foods like almonds. My crystal ball says, “No.”

  • This Old Housewife

    Totally off-topic here–I just saw this:

    The ultimate fast? He survived on vitamin pills and (presumably) water. This was done back in 1966–knowing your penchant for oldish medical research, what’s your opinion?

    • with adequate water, vitamins, and minerals, (and medical supervision) it’s quite possible… but not recommended.

  • Dan Ordoins

    Great write up Bill.

  • George

    More on vitamin E – this just in.
    Pretty amazing stuff. Zebra fish, believe it or not, are one of the standard animal models, like rats, mice, and fruit flies.
    Most Americans are deficient in both vitamin E and DHA.
    That, and a little extra magnesium and polypphenols, is your Mediterranean diet right there.

  • david ramsey

    Bill and Jack, the studies you cite are full of confounders. As Taubes and others state epidemiology is pseudoscience at best. Harvards record on getting things right through these food recall observational studies which obviously cannot prove anything he states “If you go back and read my New York Times Magazine article on this research, you’ll see that I discussed a whole host of effects, known technically as confounders — they confound the interpretation of the association — that could explain associations between two variables but have nothing to do biologically with the variables themselves.” You guys both clearly fall hook line and sinker for numbers from observational studies which do not in any way indicate protection from CVD or any of the diseases or mortality you think it does. In an article pointing out the holes in an anti meat study Willett and Harvard gang did Taubes said “That was the message of my 2007 article. As one friend put it years ago to me (and I wish I could remember who so I could credit him or her properly), when these cohort studies compare mostly health advice compliers to non-compliers, they might as well be comparing Berkeley vegetarians who eat at Alice Water’s famous Chez Panisse restaurant once a week after their yoga practice to redneck truck drivers from West Virginia whose idea of a night on the town is chicken-fried steak (and potatoes and beer and who knows what else) at the local truck stop. The researchers can imply, as Willett and his colleagues do, that the most likely reason these people have different levels of morbidity and mortality is the amount of meat they eat; but that’s only because that’s what Willett and his colleagues have to believe to justify the decades of work and tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars that have been spent on these studies. Not because it’s the most likely explanation. It’s far more likely that the difference is caused by all the behaviors that associate with meat-eating or effective vegetarianism — whether you are, in effect, a Girl Scout or not.” With nuts you have the exact same type of crap research trying to promote nuts because of the great industry backing nuts receive. This is in no way science as Taubes goes on to explain “This is why the best epidemiologists — the one’s I quote in the NYT Magazine article — think this nutritional epidemiology business is a pseudoscience at best. Observational studies like the Nurses’ Health Study can come up with the right hypothesis of causality about as often as a stopped clock gives you the right time. It’s bound to happen on occasion, but there’s no way to tell when that is without doing experiments to test all your competing hypotheses. And what makes this all so frustrating is that the Harvard people don’t see the need to look for alternative explanations of the data — for all the possible confounders — and to test them rigorously, which means they don’t actually see the need to do real science.” Moral of the story you guys are easily fooled by meaningless research. Bill Lands, Ray Peat, Broda Barnes, Edward Mellanby and many other real researchers have showed damning evidence against PUFA’s which are heavily dominant in all nuts except macadmaias. Linoleic acid has been studied much more extensively that linolenic, but neither has been shown to be protective and in fact linolenic has been clearly shown to be cardiotoxic in Lands work. Bill Lands has a misconception that O-3s protect against O-6 simply because the O-3s get so much hype from the fish oil juggernaut. The vast majoritt of recent studies have not shown benefits for fish oils. Broda Barnes in his 1976 book Solved:The Riddle of Heart Attacks summarized PUFA research best IMO “Everyone should have the privilege of playing Russian Roulette if it is desired, but it is only fair to have the warning that with the use of polyunsaturated fats the gun probably contains live ammunition.”

    • Jack Kruse

      DHA is not like all the other PUFA’s It is the only PUFA with an evolutionary history of never being replaced one time in eukaryotic history. That trumps any biochemical research from Peat and Barnes et al. Moreover, none of those studies on DHA have ever been reproduced and the data on DHA history is the eukaryotic kingdom is clearly established by Crawford and Cunnane.

    • david ramsey

      “To make matters worse, I have a feeling that the PUFAs in processed foods are all beat up (perox’d, trans, etc.) – so not just “less demanding,” but actually using up resources.” this is a reply Bill made on his own inflammatory post. “all beat up” to me shows a serious lack of biochemical understanding. Because a molecule is trans does not in any way make it “beat up”, nor does “using up more resources” have any meaning or make it a bad state for a molecule. First of all, don’t you want excess energy to be used up? None of these comments make any biochemical sense. Bill Lands has said in his research that there is no mechanism or mediator to show or suggest that eithe SFA or Trans (TFA) cause any damage. The fact that you can take linoleic acid and convert it to a stable or saturated fat is actually beneficial which is why ruminant animals do this. Keep in mind no experimental trial has ever shown TFA to be harmful. The research attempting to claim it is harmful is based off Willett’s terribly error prone Nurse’s Health Studies and is based off food recall, cholesterol markers ( which don’t show connection to cause of disease) and these trials contain innumerable confounding variables as Taubes and Teicholz point out with Vitamin E, Hormone Replacement Therapy etc. The MESA trial showed numerous supposed benefits such as 48% lowered incidence of diabetes in high trans fat groups vs lowest trans fat groups. This was observational as well ( food recall) but indicates TFA claims cannot be considered reliable.

  • david ramsey

    Bill cited a 4 week almond study which attempts to suggest that you don’t gain weight when eating almonds. (4 weeks)??? people eat nuts over decades. the slow accumulation of linoleic acid over years and decades is what causes metabolic dysfunction and leads to diabetes, premature aging, CVD, cancer, diabetes etc. 4 weeks is way too short a time period to see effects, not to mention almonds are a very small portion of total calories consumed. Thus you should not see a noticeable change in 4 weeks. 4 – 10 years is where you would see changes that have meaning.

  • david ramsey

    “Participants also completed a 24-h dietary recall using a multi-pass interview method with a dietitian and standard questionnaires that assessed personality and eating behaviors and habitual physical activity levels.27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34 Participants were asked to record their appetitive sensations hourly, measured as ‘hunger’, ‘fullness’ and ‘desire to eat’ on personal digital assistants, using visual analog scales, during waking hours for a day before attending each visit.” Dietary recall is very unreliable and self reported hunger levels are another highly meaningless form of data which are subject to wild inaccuracy in addition to being meaningless. Also mean age in the study was about 28-29 years old.

  • Martin Tornberg

    Polyunsaturated fats – even “undamaged” ones directly from nuts and seeds – seem to have somewhat of a metabolism-lowering or anti-thyroid effect. See When I was eating a lot more nuts & seeds than I do now, I would get tired & sluggish much more often, despite the fact that I was using nuts & seeds that had been soaked (sprouted). My diet was relatively low in saturated fat, however, and it is possible that this ratio mattes – that is, it is possible that saturated fat is sufficiently protective that the PUFAs don’t have a metabolism-lowering effect in their presence, such that people who eat a lot of animal fat (and coconut) may have a higher tolerance for PUFAs. I would love to get other people’s thoughts on this, including Bill’s thoughts.

    • david ramsey

      considering that the body already makes saturated fats from carbohydrates, I am highly skeptical of this idea that eating more SFA protects against the anti-metabolic effects of pufas. Your analysis is sobering, as so many people are blindly pro-nuts because of the incessant marketing of pufa products and the lipid/diet heart hypothesis due to the pharmaceutical interests as well as agri-business.

  • Martin Tornberg

    Also, polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) may inhibit pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH), which is needed to properly metabolize sugar. Of course, on a ketogenic or very low carb diet, this effect may not be noticed, but for the vast majority of the population that eats carbs, this effect may be damaging. An article on this, with lots of research references & summaries of them, can be found on I would love to get people’s thoughts on this. My own experience leads me to believe that there is something to this; when I eat to many nuts & seeds (even if they have been soaked/sprouted), I feel like I become slightly insulin resistant, I feel like carbs don’t have the same energizing effect that they are supposed to, and I feel like carbs are more likely to make me sluggish or create blood sugar swings. This leads me to believe that PUFAs, at least beyond a certain amount (or maybe beyond a certain % of fat intake?), are NOT beneficial or safe, at least in the context of a non-ketogenic diet.

    • david ramsey

      Excelelnt observation Martin

  • erdoke

    Potential mechanism of action?
    “In conclusion, almond seed skin contains highly
    polymerized polyphenols, such as the polymerized procyani-
    dins, which have strong ?-amylase inhibition, retard carbohy-
    drate absorption, and reduce postprandial hyperglycemia.”

    Same in peanut skins:
    “These results suggest peanut seed skin contains polyphenols with strong ?-amylase inhibitory activity, which retard absorption of carbohydrates and mainly function through inhibition of ?-amylase.”