Is Banana-Nut Bread Bad for Weight Loss?

Banana walnut and chocolate chips bread
Homemade banana nut bread. (Image: Anna Quaglia/iStock/Getty Images)

Losing weight requires you to cut back on calories, but this doesn't mean sticking to celery sticks and broiled chicken until you reach your goal. An occasional treat, such as a slice of homemade banana-nut bread, won't make or break your entire diet. No one food will cause you to gain weight unless you eat too much of it. When you do get a hankering for banana-nut bread, seek out recipes that cut back on the sugar and fat to make this tasty quick bread a little more diet-friendly.

Banana Bread Nutrition

Although banana-nut bread contains bananas and nuts -- two foods generally considered healthy -- traditional recipes usually contain saturated fats and up to a cup of sugar. One slice of banana-nut bread may contain as many as 543 calories and 25 grams of fat. If you're trying to eat between 1,200 and 1,500 calories per day -- an often recommended number for weight loss -- this slice amounts to between 36 and 45 percent of your total daily calories.

It's About the Calories

Dropping a few pounds requires you to restrict your calorie intake. If you can manage to burn 250 to 500 calories more than you consume daily, you'll lose 0.5 to 1 pound over the course of a week. Usually, a combination of eating fewer calories and exercising more creates this deficit. One way to easily cut calories is to remove foods that have a lot of sugar, refined flour and minimal nutrition from your meal plans. Many recipes for banana-nut bread fall into this category of empty calories. Prepackaged versions of banana-nut bread are even more likely to be full of added sugars and unhealthy fats that can be a diet disaster.

Periodic Treats

A slice of homemade banana-nut bread straight out of the oven once in a while might just satisfy a craving so you don't feel overly deprived. A study published in an issue of "Psychosomatic Medicine" in 2010 showed that a strict low-calorie diet can increase a dieter's stress levels, causing him to pump out more of the hormone cortisol, which may encourage fat storage. If you do choose to add banana bread in occasionally, bake a healthier version by replacing half of the white flour with whole wheat and half of the oil with applesauce. In most recipes, you can also reduce the sugar by one-quarter to one-third with little impact on the bread's taste or texture, or use a low-calorie sugar substitute made especially for baking. If you use super mushy brown bananas, their natural sweetness may mean you can skip the sugar altogether. This may change the texture of the bread slightly and leave it with just a hint of sweetness, though.

Nutrition and Hunger

Fitting in all the necessary nutrients when you're cutting calories is a challenge. Spending a large number of your daily allotted calories on banana-nut bread means you'll have less room for nutrient-dense foods such as green vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains and lean protein. These foods are valuable for dieters because they contain few calories per serving. You can eat lots of them and still stay within your calorie allotment. Banana-nut bread is calorie-dense, meaning it has a lot of calories in a small serving, and may not fill you up adequately. Even if you manage to fit it into your restricted-calorie diet, it could leave you feeling hungry. Eventually, this hunger could lead you to abandon your diet altogether.

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