Whether you prefer the creamy or chunky versions, peanut butter is probably not the first thing you reach for when you’re trying to lose weight. Though it’s high in protein, peanut butter is also high in fat content, packing nearly 100 calories into every tablespoon.
But research suggests that consuming peanut butter might not stop you from losing weight. In fact, eating it might even help you shed pounds.
A diet that includes high levels of monounsaturated fats, like the ones that are found in nuts, may help people lose weight and also prevent heart disease and other health conditions, according to a multi-year study of more than 100,000 men and women, funded in part by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation.
An older 2009 study that followed more than 50,000 women over eight years concluded that consuming nuts regularly slightly lowered their risk of weight gain and obesity.
While research is ongoing, it would appear there is strong evidence for peanut butter as an effective weight-loss tool, when eaten in moderation. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about consuming peanut butter for weight loss.
Peanut butter works to help you lose weight in two ways: by helping control your appetite and by suppressing blood sugar.
Peanut butter keeps you fuller, for longer
Eating low-fat or sugar-free snacks is the first impulse for many of us who are trying to lose weight. Those kinds of snacks might help if you’re trying to cut back on sugar or calorie consumption, but the reality is they aren’t always filling.
Instead, eating tree nuts or peanut products prior to eating a meal or as a snack does contribute to a feeling of fullness, a 2008 review of the medical literature showed.
This feeling of fullness can probably be chalked up to the rich fats and protein in tree nuts and peanuts. Feeling full led to eating less, and resulted in more efficient weight loss overall, according to that same review.
Peanut butter helps your glycemic response
Certain foods, especially processed foods and starchy foods, cause a spike in your blood sugar. Blood sugar that is unstable has been linked to obesity and diabetes. But peanut butter, despite its natural sweetness and delicious texture, has a low glycemic index.
Eating peanut butter is a way of consuming fats as well as protein and fiber without sending your blood sugar levels into a tailspin.
One small 2018 study showed that even eating a serving (two tablespoons) of peanut butter with a meal stabilized the glycemic effect of a meal that was otherwise high on the glycemic index.
When you’re purchasing peanut butter for weight loss, look at the label. Some peanut butter brands have tons of added sugar, salt, and preservatives.
Natural, organic peanut butter brands are the best to choose if you’re looking to lose weight. Read nutrition labels to find the lowest amounts of sodium and added sugar that you can find.
Be aware that some peanut butter brands advertise their product as a “peanut butter spread” instead of simply “peanut butter,” which gives them license to add all sorts of other ingredients and sugars.
Crunchy peanut butter contains more fiber and folate, both of which are essential to your health. While creamy peanut butter choices may offer a tad more protein content, choosing fiber over protein may have the same filling effect with the bonus of promoting good digestion.
You can add peanut butter to your diet in lots of creative ways. There’s no need to stick with the standard PB&J. The key to consuming peanut butter for weight loss is moderation: aim for two or three servings of two tablespoons of peanut butter a few times per week.
If you consume more than that, you run the risk of countering the benefits of peanut butter with an extremely high calorie count.
Recipe ideas that feature a serving’s worth of peanuts include:
- adding a two spoonfuls of peanut butter to your morning smoothie, whether it’s a green smoothie or a berry blend
- tossing peanuts in with your salads
- spreading peanut butter and honey on whole-grain toast instead of butter
- eating Thai-style peanut butter soup with onions, garlic, and tomatoes
- making a DIY fro-yo bar with grocery-store frozen yogurt topped with peanuts or peanut butter
- stirring creamy peanut butter into your oatmeal or overnight oats
Peanut butter doesn’t just contribute to weight loss. Consuming peanuts as a regular part of your diet has other benefits, too.
- Peanut butter helps you recover after a workout. It’s high in protein, which you need to boost recovery if you’re going hard at the gym.
- Peanut butter may reduce your risk of diabetes. Because of the low glycemic score of peanuts, consuming peanuts regularly can help keep blood sugar stable and lower your diabetes risk.
- Peanut butter is packed with vitamins and minerals. Copper, folate, B vitamins, and manganese are all right there.
- Peanut butter may reduce your risk of heart disease and other leading causes of death. As mentioned above, a large, multi-year study of dietary habits found that nut consumption was inversely related to heart disease, cancer, and respiratory disease.
We’re still finding out more about how peanut butter affects your body, but what we know for now is pretty clear: Peanut butter can be part of a healthy weight-loss plan.
Remember, you won’t be able to lose weight by simply eating peanut butter. Burning more calories than you consume by eating mindfully and exercising is the proven formula for weight loss.
But eating a serving or two of peanut butter a few times per week may just give you the incentive you need to turn down fatty or high-sugar foods in favor of healthier options.
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