Peanut butter is a delicious, versatile spread. It’s nutrient-rich and goes well with both savory and sweet foods.
Although peanut butter holds a special place in the cupboard of many homes, you may wonder whether it’s appropriate for weight loss.
While some argue that its high calorie and fat content could lead to weight gain, others say that its heavy dose of protein could help manage weight.
This article explores how peanut butter affects your weight.
Peanut butter is packed with nutrients
Peanut butter is loaded with healthy fats, protein, fiber, and a variety of essential vitamins and minerals.
These nutrients could aid weight loss, as the best diets incorporate plenty of nutrient-rich foods to adequately meet your dietary needs.
A 2-tablespoon (32-gram) serving of peanut butter offers:
- Calories: 188
- Total fat: 16 grams
- Saturated fat: 3 grams
- Carbs: 7 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Protein: 8 grams
- Manganese: 29% of the recommended daily intake
- Magnesium: 13% of the recommended daily intake
- Phosphorus: 10% of the recommended daily intake
- Potassium: 7% of the recommended daily intake
- Vitamin E: 10% of the recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): 22% of the recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B6: 7% of the recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B9 (folate): 7% of the recommended daily intake
Notably, the majority of its calories come from unsaturated fats. Research indicates that replacing saturated fats in your diet with unsaturated ones may reduce your cholesterol levels and overall risk of heart disease.
A single serving of peanut butter also provides roughly 10% of your daily fiber needs. Higher fiber intake is associated with lower body mass index (BMI) and other benefits.
Summary: Any effective weight loss program should include nutrient-dense foods like peanut butter, which is full of heart-healthy fats, fiber, and a wide array of vitamins and minerals.
Peanut butter may reduce appetite
Peanut butter may also support your weight loss goals due to its potential to reduce appetite.
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In a three-meal study of 15 obese women, those who added 42.5 grams (about 3 tablespoons) of peanut butter to their breakfast experienced significantly more fullness and had less desire to eat more compared to the control group.
Additional research on peanut butter’s specific role in appetite suppression is limited.
That said, some studies link intake of peanuts and tree nuts to greater meal satisfaction and enhanced metabolism in a way that supports weight control.
Protein promotes fullness and fat loss
The high protein content of peanut butter is thought to help curb appetite.
Roughly 17% of the calories in peanut butter come from protein — a 2-tablespoon (32-gram) serving provides about 8 grams.
Research indicates that consuming adequate protein can increase feelings of fullness, potentially reducing your urge to continue eating. In turn, this could promote weight loss.
Eating enough protein is also important for preserving muscle mass during weight loss efforts, as muscle is important for maintaining your strength. Your metabolism will slow down if you lose too much muscle, making continued weight loss more difficult.
Including protein-rich foods, such as peanut butter, in a reduced-calorie diet may boost fat loss more than the same diet without sufficient protein.
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Summary: Some research suggests that eating peanut butter and peanuts may suppress appetite by increasing fullness. What’s more, eating protein-rich foods like peanut butter can reduce appetite and preserve muscle mass during weight loss.
Peanut butter may support weight maintenance
Although peanuts are a high-fat, high-calorie food, they’re not associated with weight gain like you might expect.
Most available research indicates that diets rich in peanuts and tree nuts support weight maintenance more effectively than those that eliminate them.
Furthermore, people who regularly consume peanuts and peanut butter tend to have lower BMIs than those who don’t.
The precise reasons why peanuts aid weight maintenance are unclear.
Some experts believe it has to do with the unique way they’re metabolized. Because the calories from nuts may not be fully absorbed, they may not lead to a calorie surplus that would otherwise cause weight gain.
Ultimately, more research is needed to better understand the role of peanuts and peanut butter in weight management. However, the current evidence suggests that eating these foods may help you maintain healthy body weight.
Summary: Research suggests that people who consume peanuts and peanut butter have lower BMIs and are more successful at maintaining weight than those who avoid these foods.
Peanut butter is calorie-dense
One of the main reasons dieters avoid peanut butter is its high calorie and fat content.
Peanut butter does pack a calorie punch, providing close to 200 calories per 2-tablespoon (32-gram) serving. Furthermore, over 75% of those calories come from fat.
When you consume more calories than you burn, weight gain can occur. This is why calorie control is one of the mainstays of almost every weight loss diet.
However, you should consider more than calories alone when deciding which foods to include in your diet. Peanut butter also provides protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants — all of which promote good health.
Since peanut butter supplies high-quality, nutrient-dense calories, 200 calories of peanut butter will have a stronger positive health impact than 200 calories of an ultra-processed “diet” food.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can eat all the peanut butter you want. If you start eating a lot of peanut butter without accounting for the extra calories, you may hinder your weight loss efforts. As with any other food, moderation is key.
Ultimately, your diet should be tailored to your preferences and nutritional needs. Eating peanut butter alongside other nutritious foods is perfectly healthy — as long as you don’t exceed your calorie needs.
Summary: Peanut butter is high in calories and could lead to excess calorie intake if not consumed in moderation. However, it is still a high-quality food that provides numerous nutrients.
How to eat peanut butter healthfully
Peanut butter can certainly be incorporated into a healthy diet that promotes weight loss, but some strategies may be better than others.
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Not all peanut butter is created equal
Although peanut butter in its most natural form is very healthy, many commercially prepared forms are full of additives, such as sugar and hydrogenated oils — which may contain trans fats.
While shopping for peanut butter, check the label to make sure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients. The only thing peanut butter needs is peanuts. Salt may be safely included for extra flavor, too.
Typically, the oil in natural peanut butter — those without additives — may separate, rising to the top of the jar, but this shouldn’t be cause for concern. Upon opening the jar, simply mix it. Then refrigerate it to keep it from separating again.
If you’re up for a challenge, you could also try making your own. You’ll just need a high-powered blender or food processor, peanuts, and a little salt.
Adding peanut butter to your diet
If you want to lose weight without giving up peanut butter, a few simple strategies can go a long way.
Measuring portion sizes can help you keep track of how much peanut butter you’re consuming. This way, you can make sure that you’re sticking to your calorie or macronutrient goals.
You may also have to cut out another food to stay within the parameters of your diet plan.
For example, you could substitute peanut butter for a less nutrient-dense spread on toast, such as jelly or butter. Or, instead of a sugary dip for your fruit slices, try using peanut butter.
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Other ways to eat peanut butter include:
- Spreading it on rice cakes or crackers
- Drizzling it over popcorn
- Using it as a dip for celery or carrots
- Stirring it into yogurt or oatmeal
Remember, peanut butter alone is not going to make you lose weight. Weight management is complicated and requires a multidisciplinary approach. You’ll have to make several dietary and lifestyle adjustments to achieve success — but it’s possible.
Summary: It’s best to choose a peanut butter that doesn’t have additives or try making your own. Make sure to account for the calorie and/or macronutrients that peanut butter provides so that you stay within your diet plan.
Though nutritious, peanut butter is sometimes avoided due to its high fat and calorie content.
However, peanut butter may promote weight maintenance, fullness, and reduced appetite.
While its calories mostly come from fat, its fats are healthy. It’s also full of other important nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
While peanut butter certainly has a place in a healthy weight loss diet, you may need to track your calories and macronutrients to stay on track and meet your health goals.