Are Avocados Fattening & Bad for Weight Loss?
Avocados have been accused of being fattening and promoting weight gain. They may be high in fat, but are avocados fattening? And are avocados bad for weight loss?
Avocado nutrition facts
But first, a look at the nutrition facts of the mighty avocado. One medium avocado (150 grams) provides 240 calories, 22 grams total fat, 13 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams fiber, 1 gram sugar, and 3 grams protein.
One serving of avocado (50 grams or approximately ⅓ medium avocado) contains:
- 80 calories
- 3 grams fiber
- 0 grams sugar
- 5 grams monounsaturated fat
- 1 gram polyunsaturated fat
- 1 gram saturated fat
Are avocados fattening?
As you can see, avocados are rich in fat and therefore calorically dense, so the logic makes sense at face value. However, evidence suggests that fat quality has a stronger correlation to weight gain than fat quantity, and the good, primarily monounsaturated fats in avocados have not been associated with increases in weight gain or waist circumference.
A recent multi-center, randomized, controlled trial—titled the Habitual Diet and Avocado Trial (HAT Trial)—comparing the effects of incorporating one avocado into the diet per day for six months to a habitual diet essentially devoid of avocados on visceral (aka belly) fat found that although daily consumption of a whole avocado did not reduce visceral fat, it didn’t lead to an increase in it, either.
Ultimately, despite their higher calorie and overall fat content, avocados have not been shown to be fattening.
So, are avocados good for weight loss then?
Possibly! An analysis of the 2001 – 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data comparing avocado consumers (average consumption of a little more than half of a medium avocado per day) to non-consumers reported that regular avocado consumers weighed less (−3.4 kg) and had smaller waist circumferences (−1.2 cm) than nonconsumers.
Additionally, in a small, randomized crossover study, adding half of an avocado to a lunch meal led to a greater increase in satisfaction and reduction in the desire to eat over several hours following the meal compared to eating a lunch meal with no avocado. (However, the additional 112 calories provided by the avocado may have accounted for some of these findings).
While the limited evidence available doesn’t have us overwhelmingly convinced that consuming avocados will cause you to drop pounds, it doesn’t appear that including them in the diet will prevent you from doing so, either. In fact, a small, randomized controlled trial demonstrated that consuming an avocado a day as part of a 12-week reduced calorie diet supported weight loss, resulting in similar weight loss after 12 weeks as that achieved by consuming a hypocaloric diet without avocado.
Therefore, avocados can be a nutritious and delicious addition to your weight loss diet.
Avocado for losing weight
What about avocados makes them a potential ally in your weight loss journey? Well, although they may not look it, avocados are a great source of fiber, which plays a significant role in appetite regulation and satiety. Avocados provide 3 g of fiber per serving (50 grams or a third of a medium avocado) or 10 grams per whole, medium avocado.
Soluble fiber–one of the two main types of fiber, which makes up approximately 35% of the fiber content in avocados–absorbs water to form a gel that slows stomach emptying and digestion, which helps keeps you fuller for longer. In the small intestine, this gel entraps sugars, cholesterol, and fats, slowing their absorption into the bloodstream (even preventing some from being absorbed altogether) and resulting in a lower postprandial blood sugar level and a more steady, sustained release of energy.
Considering the average American only consumes around 15 grams of fiber per day—about half of the recommended daily fiber intake—upping fiber intake by adding more fiber-rich foods, like avocado, to the diet is a simple strategy for supporting weight management.
Despite their calorie and total fat content, avocados are not fattening and can be incorporated into a diet that supports weight management.
If you’re interested in more avocado myth-busting, be sure to check out our latest avocado-themed article: Do Avocados Cause Constipation?