Q: Are nuts a good source of protein?
A: The short answer is not really. The more complete answer is that it takes too many calories worth of nuts for most adults to use nuts as a major source of protein in their diet.
Example: Peanut Butter or Almond Butter
2 tablespoons of peanut butter or almond butter have 188 calories and 8 grams of protein and 198 calories and a little less than 7 grams of protein respectively. (Which one is healthier for you? Almond butter or peanut butter?)
So, if you were a fairly average female personal training client then you’d be trying to get about 100 grams of protein per day. It would take 25 tablespoons of peanut butter and a little over 28 tablespoons of almond butter to hit your daily protein goal.
This is 2,350 calories of peanut butter or 2,820 calories of almond butter. Keep in mind that this is before you have eaten anything else – no toast, no carrots, no chocolate, no wine, no nothing. Even if you train with us 3 days per week and get 10,000 steps per day it is going to be nearly impossible for most women to maintain their body weight at 2,300 to 2,800 calories per day.
Can We Make It Easier?
Lat’s contrast nuts with free Greek yogurt or egg whites. 1 cup of fat free Greek yogurt has 120 calories and 22 grams of protein. 1 cup of egg whites, or Egg Beaters, which are much tastier in my opinion… and, as much as it hurts my cheap side to say it, the name brand beats the generic for cooking… the generic ones seems to always get so watery when I cook them… long tangent… egg whites have 125 calories and 25 grams of protein per 1 cup.
Our same “average” female personal training client could hit 100 grams with 4.5 cups of Greek yogurt for only 545 calories, or 4 cups of egg beaters for just 500 calories. This leaves a lot more room in your day for other food at an intake level that makes it relatively easy to maintain your weight, or lose weight.
Obvious caveats: Other foods do have protein, so even if you only used fat free Greek yogurt for protein you wouldn’t need to eat 4.5 cups. Also, relying on only one high protein food won’t be a good long term strategy for most people.
So, What are nuts?
For our purposes we’re going to include peanuts, even though they are legumes. Nuts are mainly a source of fat, not protein. In our almond butter example above, almond butter is only about 14% protein by calories, and about 83% fat by calories.
For more ways to cut sneaky calories to make more room for what you really want to eat, check out this guide for 10 ways to cut 100 calories.