If you like peanut butter, reading and dieting (not specifically in that order), then chances are, there might have been an instance when you read the nutrition content on the jar while slathering a healthy serving of peanut butter on your bread, hoping that it’s as healthy as you’re hoping it to be. If so, then there’s also the possibility that you’ve seen how peanut butter isn’t exactly on the low side when it comes to fat and calories, by any means. In fact, two tablespoons of it actually serves up to around 16 grams of fat, or 188 calories. That’s pretty high.
But do you know that for people on the keto diet, this is actually good news?
That’s right. And that’s because according to registered dietician Danielle Schaub, culinary and nutrition manager for Territory Foods, there aren’t really foods that are off-limits on the keto diet. Rather, you’re only trying to hit specific targets, and how you want to hit those is up to you. The specific macronutrient target for keto is about 10 percent carbs, 20 percent protein and around 70 percent fat.
Of course, eating high-fat, low-carb foods can make reaching those targets much easier, and unsurprisingly, peanut butter is just one of those foods that fit perfectly. That’s because it’s fairly low in carbs, moderate in protein and high in fat, actually making it one of the best foods you can eat while on a keto diet. For peanut butter lovers everywhere, that’s very good news.
However, here’s the catch. Even though peanut butter is a very good food to incorporate into your keto diet, you can’t go overboard with it, and Schaub recommended that you stick with the standard serving size of two tablespoons. That’s because nuts contain carbs and protein as well.
If you’ve been on the keto diet for some time, then you’ll know that your body enters ketosis when it starts burning fat instead of glucose to give you energy. So keeping your carb intake very low helps you maintain ketosis, which can then help you lose weight.
HOW TO EAT PEANUT BUTTER ON A LOW-CARB KETO DIET
Peanut butter is one of the tastiest, most popular spreads in America. Whether you take a spoonful straight out of the jar as a midnight snack or mix it with your protein shake, it’s safe to assume peanut butter can complement just about anything.
With the ketogenic diet taking the nutrition industry by storm, health enthusiasts worldwide are looking for low-carb snacks to complement their lifestyle.
So is peanut butter the ultimate low-carb keto snack? Does it have a place in your ketogenic diet plan?
The truth is, it completely depends on the type and brand of peanut butter you’re consuming. As you’re about to find out, not all brands of peanut butter are equal; some commercial brands contain unhealthy ingredients, whereas many all-natural peanut butters don’t.
In this article, we’ll dive deep into:
- What is peanut butter?
- Should you ever stay away from peanut butter?
- Does peanut butter have a place in the pantry of the ketogenic dieter?
- Downsides to peanut butter
- Benefits of eating peanut butter
- When to incorporate peanut butter into your keto lifestyle
WHAT IS PEANUT BUTTER?
Peanut butter, scientifically known as Arachis hypogaea, is one of the most popular spreads due to its creamy texture and ability to complement just about any food. Unlike other snacks, peanut butter is considered an unprocessed food, made by grinding up roasted peanuts until it’s turned into a paste.
Peanuts are actually considered a legume rather than a tree nut. This means it’s in the same family as soybeans, lentils, and peas. But, since peanuts have an identical nutrient breakdown as tree nuts, most people consider it a nut.
SHOULD YOU EVER STAY AWAY FROM PEANUT BUTTER?
One of the primary concerns of peanut butter consumption on a ketogenic diet is the quality of the ingredients. Commercial peanut butter brands in food stores contain harmful, inflammatory ingredients like hydrogenated oils and trans fats which have been proven to increase the risk of various health diseases.
In fact, studies have shown that hydrogenated oils were linked to the increase in;
- Risk of heart disease
- Risk of cancer
- Gut issues
If you want to incorporate peanut butter into your low-carb or ketogenic diet, it’s essential that you completely avoid any commercial brand peanut butters like Jif and Skippy because they contain these harmful ingredients.
Instead, stick to all-natural peanut butters without all of the unnecessary trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and sugars. You can even make your own all-natural peanut butter to ensure you’re consuming strictly healthy ingredients.
Bottom line: Avoid commercial brand peanut butters at all costs due to the low-quality ingredients they’re made of. If you’re going to incorporate peanut butter into your low-carb diet, stick to an all-natural brand or create your own.
DOES PEANUT BUTTER HAVE A PLACE IN THE PANTRY OF THE KETOGENIC DIETER?
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat nutrition protocol. This means healthy fats are encouraged and most carbohydrates should be eliminated.
The standard ketogenic diet requires you to keep carb consumption under 50 grams daily. This means you can safely consume peanut butter as long as you are eating low carbohydrate peanut butters like Justin’s All-Natural Peanut Butter and staying under your total daily carb intake.
The allure of peanut butter on keto comes from its perfect macronutrient ratio. Two tablespoons of all-natural peanut butter contains:
- Calories: 210
- Fat: 18g
- Carbohydrate: 5g
- Protein: 8g
If you are incorporating peanut butter into your keto diet plan, it’s crucial that you track the exact amount you are consuming because it’s extremely easy to overeat. An easy way to monitor this is by measuring your peanut butter intake by the tablespoon.
Always check the nutrition label to make sure you choose peanut butter brands that do not contain any unhealthy ingredients like vegetable oils, trans fats, and sugar.
Bottom line: Peanut butter is perfectly acceptable on the ketogenic diet as long as you stick to all-natural, low-carb brands like Justin’s All-Natural Peanut Butter. If you’re a beginner to dieting, make it a priority to measure your peanut butter intake by the tablespoon because it’s extremely easy to overeat, which can push you away from your dieting goals.
DOWNSIDES TO PEANUT BUTTER
While peanut butter may seem like the perfect snack for someone on keto, there are a few problems that may arise from heavy consumption.
Here are a few cons to peanut butter:
- Easy to overeat. Since nuts are high in calories, it’s very common to eat too much without noticing. In fact, just one extra tablespoon of peanut butter is approximately an additional 94 calories, which could easily exceed your daily calorie allowance!
- Contains Aflatoxin[*]. This is a chemical that is produced by a fungus which is commonly colonized by the peanut plant. Studies have shown that Aflatoxin is linked to liver cancer in adults.
- Contains some peanut agglutinin[*]. This is the lectin in peanuts which has been linked to the growth of colon cancer cells.
- Peanuts are a common allergen[*]. Peanut allergies are one of the most common allergies in the world. Avoid peanut butter at all costs if you have a peanut allergy.
- High in pesticides. Since commercial peanut crops are a part of big business, many farmers must use pesticides to prevent them from being destroyed. Peanuts also have a thin shell so all of the toxic pesticides have a higher chance of entering the peanut.
- High in oxalates[*]. Oxalate is an antinutrient which means it prevents certain minerals from being absorbed and used by your body. This can cause kidney stones in certain individuals who have large amounts of oxalate in the body.
BENEFITS OF EATING PEANUT BUTTER
Peanut butter is packed with nutrients and dietary fats, making it a great snack for people who are frequently out and about while on the ketogenic diet.
Here are a few benefits of peanut butter consumption:
- Nutrient-dense. All-natural peanut butter contains ample amounts of healthy micronutrients including niacin, magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin E.
- Macronutrient ratio. With a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high-fat macronutrient breakdown, peanut butter fits the ketogenic recommendations perfectly.
- Great energy boost. The healthy fat content provides your body with the necessary calories to maintain sustained energy throughout the day without worrying about the extreme highs and lows that come with sugar highs and processed carbohydrates.
- Abundant in monounsaturated fat[*]. Studies have shown that these types of fats can help lower blood pressure, reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, and even decrease cardiovascular risk.
- Good source of fiber[*]. Aside from the digestion benefits that come with fiber, it’s also known to help lower the risk of stroke, obesity, gastrointestinal diseases, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
- Keeps you full. Peanut butter helps you stay satiated so you aren’t constantly craving food in between meals. This helps you lose weight by eating fewer calories overall.
WHEN TO INCORPORATE PEANUT BUTTER INTO YOUR KETO LIFESTYLE
Although the macro ratio of peanut butter seems to fit low-carb diets almost perfectly, many people make the mistake of overeating it which can result in a calorie surplus. When you consume more calories than your body burns, you end up gaining weight.
If you’re a beginner, adding peanut butter is perfectly acceptable if you make it a priority to eat the correct amount.
Peanut butter is best used on the ketogenic diet as a snack. Since the goal of keto is to stay under 50 grams of carbs, saving it for the end of the day when you know you’re under your carbohydrate intake is the safest way to eat it without harming your weight loss goals.
Peanut butter is also great:
- As a pre-workout snack to help fuel your exercises when carbohydrates are restricted.
- To satisfy sugar cravings that may arise in the initial stages of keto.
- When you want to stay in ketosis while traveling and have limited food options.
WHAT ABOUT OTHER NUT BUTTERS?
Variety is not only the spice of life, but it’s also beneficial when it comes to nut butters, as different nuts contain different beneficial micronutrients. For instance, almonds are high in vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium, whereas cashews are high in vitamins E, K, and B-6.
Whether your preference is almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter, or other, just remember that the same rules apply. Be sure to review the ingredient list (the best nut butters have just 1 or 2 ingredients), and enjoy in moderation.
USE PEANUT BUTTER AS A TREAT AND STICK TO THE ALL-NATURAL OPTIONS
While peanut butter’s macronutrient ratio may fit your ketogenic diet perfectly, it can be extremely easy to overeat.
Beginners who have just started living the low-carb lifestyle should make it a priority to measure their peanut butter consumption using a tablespoon to avoid overeating.
As long as you’re avoiding commercial peanut butters—filled with trans fats, sugar, and hydrogenated vegetables—and sticking to all-natural brands, peanut butter can be the perfect snack for people venturing on the ketogenic journey!