Is Avocado Toast good for Weight Loss?
Updated: Jan 29, 2019
This popular breakfast item has won the hearts of Americans who follow all sorts of diets, but could it be sabotaging your weight loss efforts?
Why we love the Avocado
If Tom Brady says his favorite cheat meal is "avocado ice cream", then the avocado arguably deserves the G.O.A.T fruit award (yes, it's a fruit!). Avocados are creamy, delicious, filling, and quite beautiful to photograph for the Gram. They add depth and texture to smoothies, sandwiches, dips, and dressings in replacement of dairy. Most importantly, any fruit that justifies eating copious amounts of guacamole is our new best friend. We also don't need to buy them organic, thanks to their thick skin that's less permeable to pesticides.
The Truth behind Avocado Toast
There's no doubt about it--avocado toast is a nutritionally-balanced, filling meal that offers endless opportunities to get creative and fancy with presentation and flavors. It can be vegan, gluten-free, paleo, and keto-friendly, depending on the toppings and bread used. It is crunchy, savory, and can be sweet or salty, depending on how you like it, so it appeals to all taste buds.
However, there are several things to consider before you take your next bite of picture-perfect avocado toast and want to lose weight:
1. It can be SUPER calorie dense.
One medium avocado packs about 230 calories, with about 190 coming from fat. If it's paired with 1-2 slices of bread, that could add an additional 70-200+ calories or more, depending on the type of bread used. Many people also add 1-2 eggs, which alone adds another 70-140 calories. Then, we have to consider the butter or olive oil used for the toast and to cook the eggs, which will also run at least another 100+ calories for 1 tbsp. Then, some people like to add cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, or other toppings, and before you know it, we have a healthy meal turned calorie-bomb on our hands, like acai bowls and fruit/nut butter smoothies. Our healthy avocado toast has turned into a 600+ calorie meal, which is fine, but the overwhelming majority of the calories come from fat.
If you're thinking, "but I thought healthy fats are good for me?", you are right. However, this is where understanding nutrition is key. First of all, too much of a good thing can still become bad, like healthy fats. Most Americans consume a balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and if you're eating avocado toast as described above, you're pretty much eating your entire daily recommended fat in one meal. And if you're planning on eating nuts, cheese, oils, full-fat dairy, salad dressings, fried foods, or meats later in the day, then you're on your way to my next topic-- potential fat storage.
2. It can promote fat storage.
Before my #keto and #lowcarb dieters freak out, please understand that what I'm about to say doesn't pertain to you. To these folk, fat is the primary fuel source for the body, so this is why you love avocados. And if you're eating avocado toast, I'm sure you're using an alternative bread!
However, for the majority of Americans and those looking to shed some weight, we eat a more balanced diet consisting of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. For many people, carbohydrates, in the forms of fruits, vegetables, and grains, make up about 40-50% of the diet. When we eat carbohydrates, our body burns those first because they are our primary fuel source--glucose. So, when we eat avocado toast, we burn the bread first, and whatever additional energy your body needs will be burned, then the rest is stored. If you're eating avocado toast and then sitting for the majority of the day, you'll most likely store all of those healthy fats. And then if you eat more carbs later in the day for fuel, like rice, pasta, fruit, or potatoes, you'll burn those for fuel and the healthy fats from earlier will continue to store in your body.
The same idea applies to bagels with cream cheese, pizza, grilled cheese, fettuccine alfredo, fruit & nut butter smoothies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or any fat and carbohydrate-rich meal. Sure, avocado toast is more balanced and healthier than some of these other items, but as we discussed above, it can have just as many calories. If you're ready to stab me through your computer screen or phone ("how dare she compare avocado toast to fettucine alfredo?!"), keep reading.
3. It has limited protein, if any.
Regardless of diet, protein serves as the #1 macro nutrient for supporting muscle growth and for satiety. Simple avocado toast--bread, avocado, salt, and pepper--doesn't pack more than 3-5 grams of protein, if you used a whole avocado. The 10+grams of fiber will keep you full, but if you're looking to tone up while losing weight, you'll need to add protein to that avocado toast. Since the avocado has plenty of fat, you can add egg whites, lean chicken or turkey, organic tofu, organic edamame or another pure-protein source to create a more balanced meal.
4. Restaurants add even more fat to make it tasty and pretty.
Ever notice how THICK the toast is in restaurants? Well, one piece of restaurant toast can run at least 200 calories, not including the butter they put on it to make it so delicious when toasted. Plus, who wants a picture of puny, thin toast? Furthermore, restaurants usually use more than 1 avocado per serving to make their delicious, abundant avocado smash, adding in extra oil and salt to make it more flavorful. Then they add a large helping of eggs so they can charge $12+ for the popular brunch item. When eating avocado toast at restaurants, not including a bloody mary, mimosa, or bites of your friend's french toast, you can easily eat half of your daily's recommended calorie intake for weight loss with just one serving of avocado toast. And in most places, you'll get two pieces of toast! #dietfail
5. It's not food-prep friendly.
This may seem irrelevant, but as a Nutrition and Accountability coach, one of the key requirements my clients need for success is for food to be convenient. Although avocado toast is easy to make, it doesn't travel well outside of the house if it has to sit for a period of time. For my Sunday and mid-week meal-preppers, avocado toast just won't work. There are many more nutritious, convenient breakfast options out there more suitable for quick, on-the-go breakfast needs.
Fine. I get it. How much avocado can I eat?
With the increased popularity of low carb, high fat, and whole foods diets, avocados meet all criteria for people trying to eat healthier and lose weight. The paradox here is that eating healthier does not always mean eating for weight loss.
Let's break down the avocado's macro nutrients, or macros. If you search the web or different calorie-tracking apps, you'll find all sorts of numbers for avocado's serving size, calories, fat, protein, and fiber. Regardless, here's the best approximate breakdown for an avocado's macros:
1 medium avocado:
--about 230 calories
--10g fiber (not a macro, but still important to consider)
Now, here's where we talk about how much avocado to eat. It really depends on your diet and goals.
The following are recommended avocado intakes for weight loss, granted that additional fat consumption (nuts, cheese, oils, etc) are limited or nonexistent:
1. If you're following a low-carb (less than 40g), high- protein diet, eating 1-2 avocados a day (1'd say one for women, two for men) suffices.
2. If you're following a moderate/modern ketogenic diet (60-70% fats), then 2 avocados per day (male or female) is appropriate.
3. If you're eating all macro nutrients--fats, starchy carbs, and protein-- then 1/2 to 1 per day (male or female) would be the maximum. If you're consuming other fats during the day or eating two or more servings of starchy carbohydrates (rice, quinoa, pasta, bread, potatoes) per day, then reduce your avocado intake a bit more.
Of course, it's important to consult with your doctor, dietician, or nutrition coach for your specific needs based on activity level, goals, and nutrient requirements.
It's very likely that avocado toast, when prepared properly, is perfectly OK for your diet, but portions, frequency, and timing of meals will all play a role in how quickly and effectively you lose weight and keep it off.
If you're interested in learning how to incorporate avocado toast and many other of your favorite meals into your diet and lose weight, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mention this article, and I'll know exactly what you're looking for:)
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