Can You Lose Weight by Eating Peanut Butter?

by Marixie Ann Obsioma, MT, undergrad MD on October 9, 2020
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Weight loss diets usually include foods with limited calories. Peanut butter is usually consumed for weight gain as it is high in calories as well as loaded with fat content. But do you know it can help in weight loss as well? Many are unaware of the fact that peanut butter can be a part of your weight loss diet. If consumed in the right quantity and with the right method, it can help in weight loss. 

Learn more about the health benefits of consuming peanut butter and how it can help you lose weight. 

Why Eat Peanut Butter?

1. 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.

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 (1).

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 (2).

2. Heart Healthy

Peanut butter contains a substance called p-coumaric acid which helps in offsetting the damage done to cells associated with cardiovascular diseases. Also, peanut butter contains more unsaturated fat than saturated fat making it a fat friendly food which lowers the risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease.

3. Lowers Risk of Cancer

Research shows that eating a vitamin E–rich diet lowers the risk of stomach, colon, lung, liver, and other cancers. Peanut butter is packed with cancer-fighting vitamin E.

4. Protects Against Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Diseases

Peanuts are one of the foods highest in niacin, and people who eat foods rich in niacin are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or other memory disorders. The niacin contained within peanut butter helps in the recovery of cell damage of the brain, which provides protection against this disease. Also, the p-coumaric acid content in peanut butter helps fight the oxidative stress on the cells of the body associated with neurodegenerative diseases.

5. Prevents Gallstones

Studies have shown that consuming peanut butter in moderation can actually reduce the risk of gallstones by 25%. This is because a large percentage of gallstones are cholesterol stones, which are linked to high levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol. Peanuts have the ability of lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing ‘good’ cholesterol i.e. HDL, thereby reducing the possibility of developing gallstones.

6. Lowers Risk of Diabetes

Peanuts and peanut butter have been shown to positively affect blood sugar control and help decrease the risk of diabetes. According to a study published in the Journal of The American Medical Association, consuming about 2 tablespoons of peanut butter at least 5 days a week can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by almost 30%, particularly Type 2 Diabetes.

7. Promotes Strong Bones

Iron and calcium are found in abundance in peanut butter which are important for transporting oxygen in the blood and promoting healthy, strong bones. Experts say including healthy protein in your daily diet like peanut butter is a good option to maintain strong bones.

8. Bodybuilders Rejoice!

Each 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter contains more than 8 g of protein, 2 g of dietary fiber, 208 milligrams of potassium, more than half a gram of iron, 24 micromilligrams of folate, 188 calories and 3 grams of sugars. It fits a bodybuilder’s nutrition needs perfectly by supporting intense weightlifting. All you have to do is keep a jar of peanut butter at your office or in your gym bag, providing quick protein directly following a workout. You can also slather it on a few slices of apple, which is a quick fix for energy and calories.

9. Decreases Levels of Stress Hormones 

Eating peanut butter may help you fight the effects of stress. PB contains beta-sitosterol, a plant sterol. In studies involving endurance athletes, beta-sitosterol was shown to normalize high cortisol levels and bring them back into balance with other hormones during times of stress. Beta-sitosterol can also help improve immunity.

10. Good for the Skin

Speaking of vitamin E, in addition to the healthy fats that help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, peanut butter also happens to be high in vitamin E. The spread contains 2.9 milligrams of vitamin E per two-tablespoon serving or 15 percent of your daily value. Vitamin E is important for preventing heart disease, cancer, eye disorders, and cognitive decline. Most notably, antioxidant vitamin E can help protect your skin from the damaging effects of free radicals from UV exposure. Moreover, the monounsaturated fats in peanut butter will help keep your skin supple and naturally radiant.

11. Lowers Blood Pressure

Potassium is not only essential for muscle contraction, but it also plays a key role in lowering blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. In fact, potassium deficiencies are linked to cardiovascular disease, renal disease, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes. To ensure peanut butter is a good food to reduce blood pressure, make sure you opt for an unsalted version.

Peanut Butter and Weight Loss

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 (3).

An older 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 (4).

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.

How Can Peanut Butter Help You Lose Weight?

Reduces Appetite

Peanut butter may also support your weight loss goals due to its potential to reduce appetite.

In a three-meal study in 15 obese women, those who added 42.5 grams or 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 (5).

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 (6).

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 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 (7).

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 (8, 9).

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 or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter with a meal stabilized the glycemic effect of a meal that was otherwise high on the glycemic index (10).

Supports Weight Maintenance

Although peanuts are a high-fat, high-calorie food, they’re not associated with weight gain like you might expect.

In fact, most available research indicates that diets rich in peanuts and tree nuts support weight maintenance more effectively than those that eliminate them (11, 12).

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 a healthy body weight.

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 that 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 butters — 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.

Which Peanut Butter is Best for Weight Loss?

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.

Smart Ways to Add Peanut Butter to Your Diet?

Peanut butter is a staple in your cupboard, it was on your sandwich for lunch every day when you were a kid, and it’s just an all-around fantastic snack. Peanut butter is always delicious, but these recipes, from breakfast until dinner, will take your love for the classic spread to a whole new level. The creamy or sometimes crunchy, thick, lip-smacking, nutty taste of home that is peanut butter will never be replaceable, but it’s always great to find new ways to use old classics.

Oatmeal with Peanut Butter and Banana

Oatmeal and peanut butter are bold classics on their own. But brought together in this recipe, they’ll pack a power punch to start your day. With only seven simple ingredients, this breakfast bowl is super easy to assemble. This recipe is also a great source of natural sugars and healthy fats to help with weight loss or just to boost your energy on a slow morning.

Peanut Butter Overnight Oats

This overnight oats recipe uses just five ingredients, but it tastes absolutely delicious when mixed together. Not only is this recipe bound to produce an Instagram-worthy picture, but it’s also a great meal prep idea for the inevitable mornings you’re running out the door. With simple ingredients and a healthy dose of protein, you can’t go wrong.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

After your morning workout, you’ll want to reach for this heavenly protein smoothie. This smoothie is all-natural, with 28 grams of protein and no added protein powders. Bananas and peanut butter are always great together, but the honey, maple syrup, and cocoa powder in this recipe will give your go-to protein powder a run for its money.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Acai Bowl

Talk about taking an all-time classic and giving it a whole new meaning. The fresh fruit that’s mixed into this acai bowl, along with a peanut butter drizzle really brings a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to shame. The acai base in this recipe features berries, coconut, spinach, and bananas for a healthy, flavorful bowl. It’s a great way to power start your day.

Peanut Butter & Honey Muffins

If you’re looking to try out a new breakfast pastry, these peanut butter and honey muffins are definitely worth your time! They’re light and fluffy, they pack a whole lot of nutty and honey flavor. This is a great recipe if you have a little extra time in the morning and want to treat yourself to a tasty peanut pastry.

Peanut Butter, Strawberry & Banana Quesadillas

This recipe brings together two great inventions: the quesadilla and peanut butter. This is a fast and easy lunch you can throw together, and it’s just as decadent as a crepe you’d find at a restaurant. Switch it up and add your favorite fruits or keep the banana and strawberry mash-up for a classic combo. This quesadilla really comes to life with a slight touch of cinnamon, which goes quite nicely with the fruit and peanut butter.

African Peanut Soup

This dish is a lighter take on a cultural staple. All of the intense flavors of this dish, from the sweet potatoes and hot chili peppers to the tomatoes and celery, are bolstered by the peanuts and peanut butter, making this a real powerhouse meal.

Crunchy Rainbow Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps

This recipe features creamy peanut butter and crunchy veggies, all wrapped together in a tortilla. The ingredients are visually vibrant, hence the fitting rainbow title, but the flavors don’t fall short whatsoever. With cabbage, green onions, bell peppers, and carrots, this recipe will give you a wide variety of veggies at lunchtime.

Kale and Peanut Butter Fried Rice

This peanut butter-infused fried rice is totally unique, and the mix of flavors is to die for. This recipe takes fried rice to a new level by incorporating crunchy kale and adding in a generous portion of peanut butter. It’s an easy and low maintenance dish that takes only 20 minutes and uses ingredients you probably already have in your fridge.

Peanut Chicken with Veggies and Rice

A simple and easy recipe you can make any day of the week. If you tend to purchase shredded chicken or want to spice up your leftover chicken, this recipe is exactly what you need. The best part is, you can recreate this creamy, flavorful peanut sauce just with your standard pantry items!

Key Takeaway 

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 in order to stay on track and meet your health goals. Follow the recipes listed above!

References: 

(1) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28620111/

(2) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15797686/

(3) https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1307352

(4) https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/89/6/1913/4596881

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23122211

(6) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24920033/

(7) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23107521/

(8) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28507015/

(9) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29182451/

(10) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30395790/

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4711439/

(12) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20199999/


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