Going Nuts: All the Bolts

Nuts | The Paleo Diet

Do you find yourself having difficulty shedding weight on your Paleo regime? Or perhaps you’re still experiencing GI distress or frequent breakouts even though you’ve cut out the gluten, the dairy and the legumes.

Too many nuts, or the wrong type of nuts could be causing the problem.

Nuts can indeed be a part of the Paleo Diet when eaten in moderation: “in moderation” being the key takeaway message.

Since nuts are high in inflammatory Omega-6 and low in anti-inflammatory Omega-3, they should be regarding more as a garnish than a regular, go-to source of dietary fat.

The fats we should rely on regularly are raw avocados, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil, as well as the fats we find with our protein sources, like wild salmon or the occasional fattier cut of grass fed meat, like a nice rib-eye.

Are All Nuts Created Equal?

Not at all.

We must factor in not only the type of nut, but also how the nut might be processed.

  • Raw, sprouted nuts are best, whereas you should steer clear of those found in large canisters, roasted in peanut oil. By soaking nuts and allowing them to sprout, we can reduce the amount of phytates we consume when we eat a handful of them with an apple as a snack, for example.
  • Surprisingly, almonds, which we see in abundance in many forms and varieties, have one of the worst Omega 3:6 ratios, with virtually no detectable Omega-3s!
  • Walnuts, Macadamias and Brazil Nuts, however, rank as the top three in their ratio which is more favorable, but still not ideal.

Don’t make the common mistake of buying a huge vat of nuts and bringing them to the office to “snack on” throughout the day. Far too often this ends in too many calories, an unbalanced macronutrient profile and an upset stomach.

How many nuts are too many nuts?

Simply put, if you’re eating any nuts more often than as the occasional garnish, it may be too much. Because they’re easy to purchase, easy to eat and require zero preparation, many people make the mistake of making them their go-to snack for the office or home, and end up consuming hundreds of extra calories each day without even realizing it.

But why are some nuts ok, but not some grains or some legumes?

It comes down to portion sizes and frequency. We’re only meant to be eating a small portion, as a garnish, on occasion, whereas with pasta, bread or bagels, the amount eaten in the typical Standard American Diet is closer to cupfuls.

A good example of how many nuts to eat might include a tablespoon of raw walnuts on a salad or a handful of raw almonds with an apple, some sliced turkey and spinach made into a wrap a couple times per week is the way to go.

Eating a vat of salted nuts, roasted in peanut oil that you purchased on sale at Costco each week is the wrong approach.

Are Nuts for Everyone?

Certain populations may need to be even more careful with nuts, such as those with autoimmune conditions. While some can tolerate nuts and seeds others cannot. The best approach is to go nut-free for a month on top of the standard Paleo Diet and then test to see if you react.


Because of their high fat content, nuts kept in the freezer can be eaten in that state. They won’t freeze into a rock-solid piece of ice the way a piece of lean chicken or veggies would.

Rather than following the budget friendly strategy of buying in bulk, only to find that two pound bag of organic raw walnuts still sitting in your cupboard two months later and not tasting so great, keeping them in the freezer proves to be cost-effective too, as nothing will spoil and go to waste.

For an easy to make treat, rinse, then freeze some organic grapes or a sliced banana. Paired with a handful of macadamias and topped with a dash of cinnamon and ginger, this makes an incredibly decadent “something sweet” way to finish a meal, far more representative of True Paleo than any treat.

Zero processing and loads of flavor is the way to go.

For a special occasion, create the decadent Raw Chocolate Covered Walnuts with Berries.

About Nell Stephenson, B.S.

Nell Stephenson, B.S.Nell Stephenson is a competitive Ironman athlete, personal trainer, and a health and nutrition consultant. She has an exercise science degree from the University of Southern California, a health/fitness instructor certification from the American College of Sports Medicine, and over a decade in the health, fitness and nutrition industry. To support her training for the Ironman Triathlon, Nell has tried many different nutritional plans and has found that the Paleo Diet is superior to all other ways of eating. She’s found that she’s leaner, faster, and fitter than ever before and uses her own experience to teach clients how to achieve optimal nutrition and health. Visit her website at paleoista.com. Download meal plans tailored to you here.

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“7” Comments

  1. Boy did I need this article. I have made nuts my go to snack. I literally consume several handfuls of mixed nuts each day. The rest of my diet except for the occasional frito is PALEO. I work out regularly and do a lot of hard work around the yard but my weight has been going up in spite of all of this. It’s been gradual but it is happening. I was ready to blame the few chips I eat as well as a glass of wine or two at night. The nut thing kept coming up in my mind as a possible cause of weight gain. After reading this article I am going to shut down the nut for a month as well as remove the chips from my diet. I am hopeful that I will see my “perfect weight” again as I was quite happy and felt quite good. It’s not that I don’t feel good buy I do feel heavier than I should be. Hope this works.

    • Hi Pat,
      Some individuals certainly have to monitor their nut consumption whereas others don’t seem to have an issue with a higher volume of nuts in their diet. Let us know what transpired for you from your reduction of nut consumption. Thanks.

      • Hi Pat

        Just discovered this article and I think I may have exactly the same problem. I feel transformed since starting Paleo and regularly working out, but finding it hard to shift the last bit of weight. Based on this article I may have just found out why. Eating way above the recommended amount.

        Did your new approach to nuts work?

  2. I have found that counting the number of nuts is a powerful way to reign in overconsumption. On an anti-inflammatory diet from the Institute of Functional Health, a serving of nuts is 6 almonds. A female might have 2 servings a day. Males might have 4. Regardless, hand size is taken out of the equation. It’s all of a sudden very clear if you are over-eating nuts.

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