Starting a new weight loss diet and stuck on affordable, healthy snacks? Don’t cross peanuts off your healthy list.
Researchers have found an all-time favorite could be the missing ingredient in your weight loss journey. Peanuts. Commonly thought as the snack to avoid while dieting, new studies by the University of Houston show the benefits of this powerful, high-fat protein.
For many, weight loss is a quest that takes years to master. The biggest challenge for most is healthy vs. unhealthy snacking. Who wants to give up on their favorite indulgences? One of the greats dieters miss is peanuts, or peanut butter, or anything involving the creamy, high-calorie deliciousness. Luckily, the childhood fave is more beneficial for weight loss than previously thought.
During a 6-month study, researchers from the University of Houston, Texas Women’s College and the USDA worked with a group of obese children from Houston to discover the effects of daily peanut snacking. After participating in a 12-week intensive intervention program, children received guidance on hot topics such as nutrition, physical activity and healthy snacking. With a daily snack choice of peanuts and/or peanut butter, each kid was monitored for a 6-month period. Grouped based on peanut consumption — those with low adherence consumed peanuts or peanut butter one or fewer times per week and the high adherence group that ate the peanut based snacks more than once per week.
With no changes to other factors such as daily exercise routines, the weight loss results and changes to BMI were rather significant. The children that ate more than one peanut snack each week decreased their BMI by over four times as much as those who consumed one or fewer times each week. More specifically, high consumers dropped their BMI by more than 2 percent over the study period. Kids with lower levels experienced a less than 0.5 percent change.
It is important to note, most health experts agree on the benefits of peanut butter but advise consumers to research the various brands. Your choice should not be limited to the taste, although taste is very important. Be cautious of brands bogged down with extra ingredients that do not help with weight loss. The Daily Meal contends the best brands are those with a simple makeup of peanuts and salt.
The benefits of peanuts don’t just apply to little kids, it’s also for big kids. In fact, a weight loss diet focusing on the nutty spread has promised to spur a slim down and promote a healthy heart. Prevention magazine’s Holly McCord developed the Peanut Butter Diet after studies at Harvard and Penn State proved peanuts and other foods with high levels of monounsaturated fats help individuals lose weight and prevent heart disease.
“Most diets have calories pared down so low, you might lose a pound or two a week, but you feel so deprived, you end up breaking the diet and going back to your old habits. This is less stressful; you almost don’t notice you’re dieting,” McCord stated in an interview with ABC.
The Prevention magazine nutrition editor stresses the importance of sticking with the diet, “don’t just add peanut butter to what you are already eating, unless you want to gain weight” and also including daily exercise. According to McCord, adding exercise, at least 45 minutes each day, can be simple if you include household activities like washing your bathtub and vacuuming, or you can choose more intense workouts.
So, the next time you are searching for the best diet snack, don’t pass up the peanut aisle. Peanut butter, whether on a spoon or celery stick, is still an easy and acceptably healthy snack for even the biggest kid.
[Image Source: Public Domain/Petr Kratochvil]