Peanuts are nutritional powerhouses, but they also pack in the fat. Eating too many can really bust your diet, since fat has more than double the calories of protein and carbs. That said, no single food automatically causes weight gain. When it comes to weight, it's not what you eat but how many calories you consume. If you dig peanuts, go on and have a handful -- and then stop.
Peanuts and Weight
At 166 calories per ounce, shelled, peanuts aren't exactly light -- but they're also not the worst calorie offenders of the nut world. The same serving of macadamias, for example, has a whopping 203 calories. Still, peanuts are steep in calories compared to fruits, veggies and grains and are heavy in fat -- so going overboard can certainly sabotage your diet. However, peanuts also help quell hunger, making them good choices if you're watching daily calorie intake. By curbing cravings, peanuts can help you eat less throughout the day, fighting weight gain instead of causing it.
While peanuts won't necessarily cause you to gain fat, the salted variety can contribute to temporary water weight gain when they are part of a high-sodium diet. An extra 400 milligrams of sodium leads to 2 pounds of water weight -- and a serving of salted peanuts has almost 200 milligrams of sodium. The recommended daily intake for this electrolyte is 2,200 milligrams for adults, so as long as you watch sodium levels in your meals you should be fine with a few salty peanuts. Or, just go for the unsalted kind instead.
Peanuts are hailed for their nutrition content, and rightly so. They're high in protein and also contain fiber to promote satiety and help keep you regular. They have minerals, such as potassium, magnesium and zinc, as well as vitamin E. The bad news is that every ounce of peanuts has more than 14 grams of fat. However, most of it is mono and polyunsaturated, which are the "good" fats that help fight heart disease. As with all plant foods, peanuts are cholesterol free.
Fat gain is generally the result of eating more calories than you consume, no matter what the food. A pound of fat is 3,500 calories, so most significant gaining happens over a long period of time. Avoid adding bulge by figuring out your daily calorie expenditure and eating that number of calories or fewer each day. A quick formula for weight maintenance is to multiply your body weight by 15. By that measure, a 140-pound woman needs about 2,100 calories per day to maintain her weight. An ounce of peanuts has less than 10 percent of those calories, so you're unlikely to gain weight unless you seriously pig out on the legumes on a regular basis.
- MayoClinic.com: Fewer Calories, Healthy Food Best Weight-loss Plan
- USDA: Nutrient Data for 16090, Peanuts, All Types, Dry-Roasted, With Salt
- USDA: Nutrient data for 12632, Macadamia Nuts, Dry Roasted, With Salt Added
- NDSU Agriculture Communication: Go Nutty for Nut Nutrition
- The Wellness Corner: Salt, Sodium, and High Blood Pressure
- HelpGuide.org: How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off
- Shapefit.com: Basal Metabolic Rate -- Learn How to Calculate & Find Your BMR
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.