Avocados for Weight Loss & Gain

Avocados are a nutritious food, providing heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, potassium, magnesium, copper and manganese, as well as most of the B vitamins and vitamins C, E and K. You can eat them in moderation as part of a weight-loss diet or add them to your regular diet as a concentrated source of calories to help you gain weight.

Seasoned avocado slices on rye toast with goat cheese. (Image: nata_vkusidey/iStock/Getty Images)

Nutrition Facts

Each of the smaller, dark-skinned avocados from California contains about 227 calories, 2.7 grams of protein, 11.8 grams of carbohydrate and 21 grams of fat. The majority of the carbohydrates are in the form of fiber, with 9.2 grams, or 37 percent of the daily value, and only 2.9 grams of the fat consist of unhealthy saturated fat. The rest mostly comes from healthy monounsaturated fats. The green-skinned Florida avocados tend to be much larger, so a whole avocado has about 365 calories and 30.5 grams of fat. A cup of cubed avocado of either type has approximately 240 calories.

Avocados for Weight Gain

If you're trying to gain weight, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends adding a source of concentrated calories to each meal. You don't want to add just any high-calorie food to your meals, however. FamilyDoctor.org suggests choosing nutrient-dense foods, such as avocados, rather than junk foods. If you eat lots of high-calorie junk foods, you could increase your risk for health problems like type-2 diabetes and heart disease due to the large amounts of sugar, saturated fat and salt typically in this type of food.

Avocados and Weight Loss

A study published in "Nutrition" in January 2005 compared subjects who ate 200 grams per day of avocado, which includes about 30.6 grams of mainly monounsaturated fat, to those who ate 30 grams of mixed fats from other food sources. All the participants consumed reduced-calorie diets. Researchers reported that the avocado eaters lost about the same amount of weight as those who didn't eat avocado. While diets high in monounsaturated fat may not result in more weight loss than low-fat diets, they may be better than a low-fat diet for improving insulin resistance and cholesterol levels, according to a review article published in "Nutrition Reviews" in 2010.

Other Considerations

If you want to lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories than you burn through your daily activity. This means replacing other, less healthy foods with avocado rather than adding it to your diet. To gain weight, you need to do the opposite, adding avocado or other high-calorie foods to your meals to increase the total calories you are eating. Nuts, nut butters, seeds, cheese and olive oil are examples of other foods that are high in both nutrients and calories.

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