Peanut butter is a staple food in the diets of many bodybuilders. Although it's nutrient dense and packed with healthy fats and protein, it's also very high in calories. The amount of peanut butter you should eat depends on several factors, such as your goals and your current level of performance.
Peanut Butter Benefits
To stay healthy and train at the top level, bodybuilders need a diet that's rich in nutrient-dense foods that provide plenty of vitamins and minerals. Peanut butter is very high in antioxidants, which help protect against cell damage from free radicals in the blood. It also contains a large amount of monounsaturated fat, which has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease.
Bodybuilders should aim to eat around 0.5 gram of fat per pound of body weight, of which around a third should be monounsaturated fat. Peanut butter contains around 35 grams of monounsaturated fat per 100 grams, so two heaping tablespoons would provide a 200-pound bodybuilder with his daily monounsaturated fat allowance.
Protein in Peanut Butter
Protein is very important for bodybuilders as it helps to build and repair muscle fibers and plays a role in carrying nutrients around the body. The general recommendation for those who are looking to build muscle is to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, although many bodybuilders go as high as 2.5 grams per pound.
Peanut butter contains around 22 grams of protein per 100 grams, which is only slightly lower than the protein content of chicken or beef. However, because peanut butter is calorie dense, you should not use it as your main protein source and try instead to eat a variety of healthy proteins and fats. One to two tablespoons added to a meal will help to increase your protein intake without adding too many calories.
Watch Those Calories
Although peanut butter has lots of benefits, it also comes with lots of calories. Depending on the brand, it may contain more than 600 calories per 100 grams, and a rounded tablespoon can contain more than 250 calories. But if you're in the off-season and are trying to gain weight, this might be advantageous as you need plenty of easy-to-eat, calorie-dense foods.
Adding a tablespoon of peanut butter to each meal or blending it in with a protein shake can help when you're trying to build muscle. But if you're dieting for a competition, your calories may be somewhat restricted. In this case, peanut butter might not be your best food choice, so try to limit your intake to a tablespoon per day.
How Much Should You Eat?
How much peanut butter you eat for bodybuilding is largely a matter of whether you like it or not and fitting the fat and calories into a well-balanced diet that provides an array of other nutritious foods, including whole grains, leafy greens and other vegetables, and fresh or frozen fruits.
If you don't like peanut butter and are getting plenty of fats and proteins from other sources, such as lean meats, fish, dairy products and tree nuts, you don't need to eat it at all. But if you enjoy it and your diet can accommodate the additional calories, it's an excellent food to add.