It can seem confusing when you learn that avocados are linked to decreased belly fat and that they are also one of the best foods for healthy weight gain. So which is it? Are avocados good for weight loss or can they cause weight gain? Could it be both?
The answer is not as clear cut as one would hope and depends on a number of different factors, including your overall diet and health goals. In this article we’ll explore how avocados impact your waistline and your health. Along with how to grab the benefits of this popular health food without breaking the calorie bank.
Here are top benefits of eating Avocados:
- Avocados help with appetite control
- Avocados are nutrient-dense
- Avocados may reduce belly fat
- Avocados promote good health
Are Avocados Good for Weight Maintenance?
The truth is any food, including avocados, can make you gain weight or lose weight, it all depends on how many calories you consume each day. If you eat more calories than your body burns you will gain weight, and if you eat less, you will lose weight. However, the quality of your food choices can certainly make a difference.
Avocados are a nutritious, whole food that can support both your weight loss or healthy weight gain goals. They are loaded with fiber, healthy fat, and essential vitamins and minerals that make them one of the best foods you can eat, period.
The trick is learning how to balance your avocado intake with your overall calorie intake and macro goals. This can be as simple as tracking your daily nutrition and using avocados in healthy low calorie recipes that support weight management.
Avocados Are High in Fat
Even though they are technically a fruit, avocados are classified as a fat due to their high fat content. And because Avocados are high in fat, they are also high in calories.
Fat contains more calories per gram than any other macro. One gram of it packs a whopping nine calories, which is more than twice the amount of calories per gram of protein or carbohydrates (protein and carbs both contain 4 calories per gram).
This also means you can get more calories in a smaller portion size with high fat foods like avocado. This is one of the many reasons avocados are often praised as a great food choice for the increased calories needed for healthy weight gain and building muscle.
But consuming more dietary fat does not necessarily equate to gaining body fat or abdominal fat. In fact, high fat diets are thought to support weight loss in many different ways.
Additionally, a majority of the type of fat found in avocados is monounsaturated fat, a type of fatty acid associated with increased fat utilization (fat burning), weight loss, and numerous positive health outcomes (1,2,3,4,5). Even in a calorie surplus, some research suggests that those who consumed more monounsaturated fats may gain less body fat overall (6).
How Many Calories Are in One Whole Avocado?
One whole avocado contains roughly 320 calories and 30 grams of fat. Of course, the smaller the avocado, the fewer the calories.
Calculate your macros:
But don’t let these numbers scare you. Most people don’t eat an entire avocado in one sitting. Besides, even if they did eat one avocado a day, these calories only make a difference if it causes you to go over your daily calorie goals.
4 Reasons to Eat Avocado Every Day For Weight Loss
Eating avocados alone won’t cause you to lose weight or gain weight. But consuming avocados as part of a balanced diet can support your weight loss goals in many ways. Here are three reasons to consider adding more avocados into your diet.
1. Avocados Help With Appetite Control
In one study, those who consumed an entire avocado for breakfast felt fuller longer and ate fewer calories throughout the day (7). These hunger busting effects are likely due to avocados satiating nutrition content.
Avocados are packed with fiber - one large avocado has 13 grams of fiber! That is nearly half the recommended daily amount of fiber for adults (8). And each whole avocado has only 3.5 grams of net carbs.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is not easily digested. This means it is thought to have little impact on blood sugar levels. And blood sugar control has a direct impact on your energy levels, mood, and appetite.
Fiber also helps to draw more water into your gut, allowing you to feel fuller and supporting a healthy digestion (9,10). This feeling of increased fullness may help you last longer until your next meal and eat fewer calories overall.
In addition to fiber, the high amount of healthy fat found in avocados is thought to be increase satiety. In fact, many keto dieters credit their decreased hunger to foods, like avocados.
2. Avocados Are Nutrient Dense
Avocados are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat (16). In addition to it's fat and fiber content, one whole (large) avocado provides:
- Fiber: 45% of your daily needs
- Potassium: 24% of your daily needs
- Vitamin C: 16% of your daily needs
- Vitamin E: 24% of your daily needs
- Vitamin K: 40% of your daily needs
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 16% of your daily needs
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 32% of your daily needs
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 24% of your daily needs
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): 60% of your daily needs
- Vitamin B6: 24% of your daily needs
- Folate: 40% of your daily needs
- Magnesium: 16% of your daily needs
- Copper: 40% of your daily needs
- Manganese: 16% of your daily needs
The nutrient density of your food choices not only impacts your health, but might also play a role in your weight loss efforts. Research links higher nutrient intake to better appetite control and decreased cravings (11).
3. Avocados May Reduce Belly Fat
While the research is limited there are some studies that imply consuming one avocado a day can help decrease abdominal fat - particularly visceral fat, the type of belly fat linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems (4,12).
This may be due to the type of fat found in avocados (monounsaturated fats) that has been associated with increased fat burning, decreased abdominal fat, and a lower BMI (1). It is thought that monounsaturated fats have short-term effects on your metabolism after a meal that include increased fat oxidation and increased thermogenesis.
Increased fat oxidation enhances your body’s ability to breakdown fat for energy (aka burn fat for fuel). And increased thermogenesis can cause a minor uptick in your metabolism, leading to a small increase in overall calorie burn.
These factors combined, could imply that eating avocados may help you lose belly fat more efficiently, as well as burn more fat and increase your metabolism after each meal.
4. Avocados Promote Good Health
Because of their beneficial nutrition profile, the benefits of avocados are go well beyond their ability to promote weight loss (13). While good health does not directly impact your ability to lose weight, it does support your overall health and fitness goals.
Avocados have a desirable ratio of fatty acids, with nearly 70% of the amount of fat in avocados coming from monounsaturated fat and less than 15% of its fat content coming from saturated fat. Additionally, the majority of the monounsaturated fat in avocados comes from oleic acid, the same type of heart healthy fats found in olive oil.
A diet high in monounsaturated fats and lower in saturated fats is thought to help manage cholesterol levels by increasing good cholesterol and reducing bad cholesterol in the body (14). This in turn can help reduce the risk of heart diseases.
The American Heart Association found that consuming avocados daily can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease by up to 22% (15).
Replacing saturated fat intake with more monounsaturated fats from foods like avocados may also support increased insulin sensitivity, better blood sugar control, further reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome (16,17).
How to Get more Avocados in Your Diet
Avocados are a tasty and versatile food that pairs well with just about everything. There are many ways to eat avocados - you can add avocado as a topping to a dish, use avocado in place of cream or oil in a sauce or baked good, toss half an avocado in your smoothie, or toss it in a salad with other tasty fruits and vegetables.
Avocados are a delicious and nutritious food choice that may offer unique weight loss factors. But before you start hitting the guac, make sure your total diet is on track. Here is how to make sure you get the most out of your avocado intake:
- Learn how many calories you need to eat a day for weight loss
- Track your daily nutrition intake using an app or food journal
- Learn how to portion your food to your nutrition needs
- Consider opting for a weight loss meal delivery plan that does the hard work for you!