English Walnut – Eat More, Weigh Less
English Walnut – Eat More, Weigh Less
Let’s talk about nuts, some of the well-known and lesser known facts for you to contemplate.
What most people know:
Nuts are high in calories and loaded with good fats and protein.
Given this information, it is possible that you either embrace nuts as part of a balanced diet or throw them into the bin if you are trying to shed a few kilograms. After all, cutting calories is what you may have been told to do if you are aiming for a specific weight loss goal. There is no magic pill for shedding a few extra kilograms and calorie intake certainly does play a part. However, let’s not forget that different variations of nuts have their own very specific nutritional composition outside of just calories. So, let’s put the spotlight on walnuts specifically for the remainder of this blog and explore what could happen if you simply added walnuts (up to 56g per day) to your usual diet and continued this for 6 months. Would you put on weight from the extra calories of this calorie-rich food? Is it a bad idea to incorporate walnuts into your weight loss program? Hmmm, sounds like a pretty easy answer (extra calories = extra weight) … or is it? Ask yourself, do you want to just lose weight, or do you also want to feel full and satisfied with ample energy levels during the day?
Adding walnuts to a weight loss program
In a 2017 study, overweight and obese men and women (n = 100) were randomly assigned to a standard reduced-energy-density diet or a walnut-enriched (15% of energy) reduced-energy diet in the context of a behavioral weight loss intervention. They were followed clinically for up to 6 months. The participants had their body measurements taken, blood pressure monitored, blood lipids, and other nutritional factors measured in the blood. And unsurprisingly, both groups lost weight. However; only the group consuming walnuts maintained a lower systolic blood pressure at 6 months. The walnut-enriched diet group, but not the standard reduced-energy-density diet group, reduced total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) at 6 months, from 203 to 194 mg/dL and 121 to 112 mg/dL, respectively (p < 0.05) and there were no changes in blood lipids and blood pressure in the group not eating walnuts.
The main takeaway here is yes, you certainly can lose weight by eating a lower-calorie diet. However, instead of looking at eliminating all high-calorie foods, you may like to review what foods you are incorporating into your weight loss protocol; by incorporating walnuts into your diet, you can greatly improve your lipid profiles and reduce your blood pressure. This means after all the hard work you put into reaching your weight loss goal you can increase your chances of enjoying the new you for many more years to come!
Beat the fatigue with walnut extract
Along with a reduced-calorie diet, exercise is vital for weight loss and maintenance. Daily exercise can be a bigger struggle than the diet side of things for some people. Especially when reducing calories as you may find energy levels wavering. There is also a chance that due to other life commitments you have in this modern world (family, work, teacher, day-care educator, being superman or superwoman etc.) exercise could have been off the cards for some time. When getting stuck back into an exercise regime it is common to experience fatigue quicker than if you have been exercising consistently. If this is the case, improving endurance is something that you may benefit from. Enter walnut extract.
In 2013 walnut extract was put to the test to determine if it had an anti-fatigue action via improvement of exercise tolerance in rats. The outcome demonstrated that the study group who consumed walnut extract was able to swim longer than the group of rats given the placebo. Interestingly, this could be related to the researchers finding significantly decreased levels of lactate and ammonia along with increased blood glutamine levels and liver glycogen content after swimming in the rats who consumed the walnut extract in comparison to the group given the placebo.
Taking walnut for the pump
Walnut extract has been used widely in pre-workout powders throughout the world. And a great reason for it to be included in such formulations is its potent effects on the endothelium (the inside layer of your arteries). If these cells are working optimally, you can get that great pump feeling we all love. Walnuts have been found to improve the endothelium in diabetic individuals who have damaged endothelium. Improving the endothelium quality can improve vasodilation and provide that amazing ‘pump’ gym goers seek.
Beneficial nutrients in walnuts
When aiming for weight loss, micronutrients and food quality should not be overlooked. Walnuts contain beneficial micronutrients called phytosterols and polyphenols.
Phytosterols are natural chemicals found in foods that have wide-ranging health benefits. One such benefit is the ability of phytosterols to lower cholesterol. The phytosterols content of nuts, in general, is from 95 to 279 mg/100 g and higher in walnuts at 113 mg/100 g. One of the most famous benefits of phytosterols is the ability for them to lower the 'bad' LDL cholesterol. Studies have found that the total phytosterol dose consumed from nuts correlated inversely to LDL-cholesterol reduction (i.e., more phytosterols – lower ‘bad’ cholesterol).
Polyphenols are a diverse mix of beneficial natural chemicals found in many foods. Walnuts are a great source (one of the highest) of total polyphenols, with a reported content of up to 2500 mg/100 g. On top of that, walnuts are the richest plant source of ellagitannins. During hydrolysis (a bit of chemistry refresher for you- the chemical interaction of releasing a substance and water within the body), ellagitannins release the highly beneficial ellagic acid. This is further metabolized by intestinal bacteria to urolithins. Recent research suggests that urolithins exert anti-obesity effects. To feed your need for the process behind this, it occurs through enhancing adipose tissue thermogenesis via the increase of the active thyroid hormone T3.
The take-home message
If you want to improve or maintain your weight and health, make sure you incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every day while also eating a wide variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, protein-rich foods, and seeds. Adding walnuts into your regular meal and snacking rotation may provide extra benefits such as lower cholesterol and cardiovascular benefits including lowering blood pressure and helping to keep your arteries functioning optimally.[1,2,3,4]
Walnut extract could also be taken before you exercise as it may improve your endurance, while also providing natural boosts to your thyroid function.[2,8]This may just be the extra ingredient you need to reach and maintain your weight goal and contribute to keeping you feeling healthy for many years to come. Healthy insides along with improved endurance and energy levels to hit the gym with, yes, please!
 Rock CL, Flatt SW, Barkai HS, Pakiz B, Heath DD. Walnut consumption in a weight reduction intervention: effects on body weight, biological measures, blood pressure and satiety. Nutr J. 2017 Dec 4;16(1):76. doi: 10.1186/s12937-017-0304-z. PMID: 29202751; PMCID: PMC5715655.
 Kim DI, Kim KS. Walnut extract exhibits anti-fatigue action via improvement of exercise tolerance in mice. Lab Anim Res. 2013 Dec;29(4):190-5. doi: 10.5625/lar.2013.29.4.190. Epub 2013 Dec 20. PMID: 24396383; PMCID: PMC3879337.
 Effects of walnut consumption on endothelial function in type 2 diabetic subjects: a randomized controlled crossover trial. Ma Y, Njike VY, Millet J, Dutta S, Doughty K, Treu JA, Katz DL. Diabetes Care. 2010 Feb; 33(2):227-32.
 Del Gobbo LC, Falk MC, Feldman R, et al. Effects of tree nuts on blood lipids, apolipoproteins, and blood pressure: systematic review, meta-analysis, and dose-response of 61 controlled intervention trials. Am J Clin Nutr 2015; 102:1347–1356.
 Ros E, Izquierdo-Pulido M, Sala-Vila A. Beneficial effects of walnut consumption on human health: role of micronutrients. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2018 Nov;21(6):498-504. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000508. PMID: 30199393.
 Sanchez-Gonzalez C, Ciudad CJ, Noe´ V, Izquierdo-Pulido M. Health benefits of walnut polyphenols: an exploration beyond their lipid profile. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2017; 57:3373–3383.
 Garcı´a-Conesa MT, Chambers K, Combet E, et al. Meta-analysis of the effects of foods and derived products containing ellagitannins and anthocyanins on cardiometabolic biomarkers: analysis of factors influencing variability of the individual responses. Int J Mol Sci 2018; 19:E694.
 Xia B, Shi XC, Xie BC, Zhu MQ, Chen Y, Chu XY, Cai GH, Liu M, Yang SZ, Mitchell GA, Pang WJ, Wu JW. Urolithin A exerts antiobesity effects through enhancing adipose tissue thermogenesis in mice. PLoS Biol. 2020 Mar 27;18(3):e3000688. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000688. PMID: 32218572; PMCID: PMC7141696.