Within bodybuilding circles, the macronutrient fat is perhaps the most demonized of all. Many people are still convinced that fats are good for nothing other than thickening you, raising your cholesterol and making your veins clog up. Fat as part of a bodybuilding diet? Ho!
Fortunately, more and more people are becoming aware that fat is not as bad as people used to make you believe. The importance of essential fatty acids in the form of Omega-3 is becoming a regular pillar in their diet for more and more people, but the fact that other fats are not essential does not mean that your body is not really interested. For example, most natural fats are an excellent food source and do not have to be avoided quickly. More than one egg per week does not mean that your life expectancy will be 10 years shorter, some fatter meat does not always have to be avoided and nuts do not have to be left at all.
Speaking of nuts: did you know that nuts are full of healthy nutrients and are the perfect match for a bodybuilding diet? However, the healthy fats in nuts are only part of the overall picture. In this blog you can read 7 reasons why nuts fit very well in your diet!
# 1. Nuts are rich in healthy fats
At around 53 grams per 100 grams, nuts are very rich in fat and therefore quite high in calories (~ 600 kcal per 100 grams), but this is not immediately a bad sign! The fatty acid profile of nuts consists mainly of monounsaturated fats, with approximately 32 grams per 100 grams. These unsaturated fats have the property that they are good for cholesterol levels and when replacing saturated fats can help to lower blood cholesterol. Not only that, but also for your strength training and recovery, monounsaturated fatty acids may have a positive effect!
The remaining fats in nuts are approximately equally divided between saturated and polyunsaturated fats. Depending on which species you take, nuts can also contain a high amount of ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid), an essential fatty acid. This fatty acid is essential because it is necessary for optimum health and cannot be made by the human body. ALA converts in the body to EPA and DHA, the fatty acids that you also find in fatty fish. These Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to good cholesterol levels and have a beneficial effect on the heart. In addition, research shows that Omega-3 has countless potential benefits, but this requires more evidence. Walnuts are a good example of nuts with a high amount of ALA.
# 2. Nuts are rich in fiber
Nuts contain around 100 grams of carbohydrates per 22 grams and the good thing about this is that about 6 grams of this consists of fiber. Many people eat too little fiber, while research shows time and again that there are countless health benefits associated with adequate fiber intake. Fiber can help to improve your cholesterol level, fiber can reduce the blood sugar peak after a meal and fiber contributes to a healthy functioning of the intestines.
Perhaps the most interesting thing for us bodybuilders is the following: intake of sufficient fiber gives you a full feeling and can therefore reduce your feeling of hunger. This can eventually contribute to weight loss compared to a diet with little to no fiber.
# 3. Nuts are high in protein
Please note, we are not going to tell you here that nuts can be your primary protein source. They are simply too high in calories for this and we prefer an animal protein instead of a vegetable protein. However, what we are going to tell you is that nuts with a protein content of around 20 grams per 100 grams are a perfect addition to your meal. In addition to the healthy fats and fibers, this also increases your protein intake just that little bit.
When you compare this with adding pure oil to your meal, such as olive oil, nuts provide you with more satiety, more protein and the same healthy fats!
# 4. Nuts are low in carbohydrates
We have already mentioned the amount of fiber that nuts contain. Another added advantage is that nuts are relatively low in carbohydrates! Per 100 grams this is about 22 grams, but because 6 grams of this consists of fiber, you only have 16 grams net. The macronutrient profile of nuts is therefore perfect for a bodybuilding diet, but also for a diet that is low in carbohydrates. The only situation when nuts are less suitable is when you follow a ketogenic diet. Hereby your carbohydrate intake may not exceed 50 grams. In these cases it is better to remove the carbohydrates from vegetables, because this probably offers you more satiety and health benefits.
For many people, however, the high amount of kilocalories for the relatively small portions remains an obstacle. Then come the next point as good news!
# 5. Nuts contain fewer calories than the label indicates
Okay, this head may not be quite right, so it deserves some explanation. Nuts are indeed very high in calories, but then the content of the product is considered purely. However, research [1,2] has also looked at the digestion of nuts, and it was noticeable that part of the fat from nuts remains in the fiber-rich skin of nuts. In practice, this simply means that not all kilocalories of nuts are included, ranging from 5% to some studies. 32%!
What can you do with this information? You can simply view it as a bonus, which means that your energy shortage is slightly larger than you actually calculated. But of course you can also calculate it, which can be a pitfall! Then you very easily end up in a cycle of "just one hand, because there are fewer calories in it". Because of this you end up eating way too much! When you decide to settle it with your macros, it is a good guideline to take 20% off the calorie value.
So in practice, nuts provide fewer calories than the label suggests, but keep your sanity!
# 6. Nuts are rich in micronutrients
Nuts provide you with a good range of macronutrients that already have enough benefits, but it doesn't stop there! They are also enormously rich in various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!
For example, nuts contain a high amount of Vitamin E and Vitamin K. The latter is mainly found in green vegetables, something that many people already easily skip. So it's not a bad idea to get a bit more of this! Vitamin E contributes to the protection of oxidative damage of the cells. Vitamin K contributes to normal blood clotting and the maintenance of strong boats. In addition, nuts are rich in magnesium, potassium and zinc, all three minerals that are often not consumed enough. The health benefits of this vary enormously. This varies from the contribution to normal protein synthesis and normal functioning of the muscles, to a normal psychological function and a good electrolyte balance.
If that is not enough, nuts also contain a high amount of antioxidants. These can provide protection against oxidative stress in the body.
# 7. Nuts have different health benefits
It may now be clear that nuts are packed with healthy nutrients, but what does research show about nuts?
First of all, there have been several studies that found that a diet rich in nuts contributed to weight loss [3,4,5]. This can be explained by the fact that nuts contribute to the feeling of satiety and also produce less energy than the label suggests. However, a diet with almonds was also better than a diet with complex carbohydrates, while these are already known for their satiating effect. If you want to lose weight, adding a porting of nuts can be a smart move!
In addition, based on the fatty acid profile, it is a logical consequence that nuts have a positive effect on your cholesterol levels, which research confirms. For example, the amount of triglycerides in the blood was considerably lower in a diet rich in nuts . An increase in 'good' HDL cholesterol and a decrease in 'bad' LDL cholesterol were also visible .
Finally, nuts are already low in carbohydrates and do not cause a sharp rise in blood sugar. But research has also shown that nuts may influence oxidative stress, blood pressure, and other health indicators in people with Type-2 diabetes [8,9]
Not all nuts are the same!
When you add nuts to your diet it is first of all important to look at the source. Which nuts do you add, how are these processed and which other ingredients have been added?
What you see a lot in practice is that nuts are roasted. This simply means that they are fried in oil at high temperatures. Doesn't sound too good right? This does exactly what you would expect with the nuts: the calorific value increases due to the extra fat. In addition, oxidation of the healthy fats in nuts takes place through exposure to high temperatures. The latter is the most worrying, since it can cause the formation of trans fats. This is a fatty acid that cannot be processed properly in your body and can have a negative impact on your health. All in all, the quality of nuts is anything but better due to 'burning'. Let alone the enormous amounts of salt that are added afterwards.
XXL Nutrition is aware of the seriousness of this production method and unnecessary additions. That is why we offer dry roasted nuts without the addition of extra oil, fat or salt. Dry roasting ensures that the nuts get the crispy taste of roasting. But without the extra calories and unhealthy fatty acids.
Delicious ways to add nuts to your diet
The easiest way to consume nuts is of course straight out of the bag. But this is not only very risky when your self-control is not optimal ("how does that bag suddenly come out?"), But there are also plenty of other ways to enjoy nuts!
Although it is not something that will soon occur in people, you can of course add nuts to a stir-fried meal with, for example, rice or pasta, chicken or fish and accompanying vegetables! By adding some nuts at the end you not only benefit from the good nutritional value, but also from the extra 'bite' to your meal! The same applies to a tasty meal salad. By adding nuts you complete both the macronutrient profile and the taste of a salad.
Quark is a regular part of their diet for many bodybuilders, but we still see all too often that people eat their quark bald and tasteless. Besides the fact that a complete meal consisting of proteins, carbohydrates and fats is better for your digestion, saturation and absorption of nutrients, this also tastes much better! So next time complete your cottage cheese meal by adding some nuts. Combine this with (frozen) fruit, coconut cubes, muesli or dark chocolate for example!
Everyone loves peanutbutter!
What is a typical Dutch food? Chances are that you think of peanut butter! You love it or you hate it! If you belong to the first category, chances are that you have already discovered that commercial peanut butter brands face the same problems as nuts. If the jar contains 90% nuts, you can already be lucky, the rest consists of additions that you are not really waiting for. The answer? XXL Nutrition's Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter consisting of no less than 99% peanuts! The only addition is 1% sea salt, which contributes to the taste and electrolyte intake.
Did anyone say protein?
So now we have 100% natural peanut butter that tastes great and delivers great nutritional value, can it be even better? Absolutely! The shortcoming of peanut butter is of course that it is relatively poor in protein, compared to the amount of fat. That's why we have the Protein Peanut Butter 48% developed for you! A traditionally made peanut butter made from dry roasted peanuts supplemented with the purest whey isolate to achieve an unprecedented high protein percentage of 48,2%! Suddenly, peanut butter is no longer just a source for healthy fats. It is now a fully-fledged way to meet your protein requirements! In addition, the Protein Peanut Butter contains 48% as much as 47% less fat than Calvé peanut butter! With this, you do benefit from the healthy fatty acids that peanut butter is rich in, but not from the high calorific value.
A little different from the previous products, but who doesn't like chocolate hazelnut paste? It is a delicious treat that people enjoy worldwide, but unfortunately the nutritional value with predominantly sugar and unhealthy fats is not too good. For this we have developed the outcome, namely the Protein Choco Hazelnut paste, an unprecedented taste sensation with a huge improvement in nutritional value! This pasta contains no less than 65% less sugar than Nutella and 518% more protein, resulting in a protein content of 37,1% (!). Where the nutritional value of conventional chocolate hazelnut pastes comes from refined ingredients, this pasta contains only natural and high-quality ingredients. From the healthy fats from dry roasted hazelnuts and pure cocoa, to the best Belgian pure Callebaut chocolate. No compromise has been made, which results in a sublime taste and nutritional value!
Time for improvement!
And with the end of this blog you are armed with the knowledge to improve your diet one step further! Add some dry roasted nuts and immediately enjoy the delicious taste and health benefits. Do you have a delicious recipe for which you can use nuts? Let us know in the comments!
Written by Mathias Jansen