When it comes to weight loss, celery and peanut butter often fall on two opposite ends of the spectrum. Because there aren't many calories in celery, it's often a dietary staple on calorie-restricted plans. On the other hand, peanut butter, which is high in fat and calories, is shunned.
But if you take a look at the research, it's possible that eating celery with peanut butter may help you lose weight. Of course, it's not a magic bullet for weight loss; you'll probably have to make other changes too, depending on what your diet looks like now.
Incorporating celery and peanut butter into an otherwise healthy diet may help you lose weight, but you can't eat the snack between unhealthy meals and expect significant change. Choose natural peanut butter without added sugar that can contribute to weight gain.
Peanut Butter for Weight Loss
A 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter provides 191 calories and 16.5 grams of total fat. Because it's high in both calories and fat, people don't often associate peanut butter with weight loss, but the nut (or legume, as it's technically classified) actually has several weight-loss benefits.
A review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in July 2014 dug deep into peanut butter and its effects on weight loss and found that peanut butter can suppress hunger and the desire to eat and increase feelings of satiety and fullness following consumption. Together, all of these factors can contribute to weight loss. The researchers did note, however, that whole peanuts seemed to have a slight edge over peanut butter, although both had the same effects, just to different degrees.
The researchers also wrote that peanuts and peanut butter seemed to have a greater effect on fullness and decreased calorie consumption when eaten separately as a snack, rather than as part of meal. This information suggests that eating celery and peanut butter in between meals may be more beneficial than incorporating peanut butter into a main course.
More Benefits of Peanut Butter
Another study published in the European Journal of Nutrition in October 2018 reported that people who regularly eat nuts tend to have less weight gain and a 5 percent lower risk of becoming overweight over a period of five years than people who don't consume nuts as often.
Instead of looking at protein individually, researchers from another study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in April 2015, set out to test what would happen when carbohydrates in the diet were replaced with different proteins. One of those proteins was peanut butter.
Researchers reported that adding one serving of peanut butter to your daily diet was associated with weight loss or weight maintenance when that protein was combined with low glycemic foods, like celery. The researchers concluded that higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate diets not only help you lose weight, they may also help you maintain weight loss over the long-term.
Celery and Weight Loss
There are virtually no calories in celery, so the green vegetable has been associated with weight loss for a long time. Celery contains only 9 calories per stalk, it has virtually no fat and the majority of its carbohydrates come from fiber, which is highly studied for its connection to weight loss.
A February 2015 report in Annals of Internal Medicine looked at just one change in the diet — increased fiber — and its connection to weight loss. Researchers were surprised to find that something as simple as getting 30 grams of fiber per day could promote weight loss and balanced insulin levels in participants with metabolic syndrome.
Of course, it's important to note that, with a fiber content of 1 gram per stalk, it would be hard to get 30 grams of fiber daily from celery alone, but it's still a good idea to include celery and other fiber-rich fruits and vegetables in your regular diet.
Dispelling the Negative Calorie Myth
There's a pervasive myth in health communities that surrounds what are referred to as "negative calorie foods." The premise behind negative calorie foods is that certain foods are so low in calories that, when you eat them, you actually create a calorie deficit. Proponents of the negative-calorie food idea claim that the amount of energy, or calories, it takes to digest these foods is greater than the amount of calories actually in the food.
Using that logic, if your diet consists mainly of negative calorie foods, which include celery, cucumber, onion, lettuce and some berries, you would lose weight without much effort at all. While the Mayo Clinic states that, theoretically, it's possible that certain foods might take more energy to burn than they provide, there's no scientific evidence to back up the theory.
Alyssa Pike, RD, a registered dietitian and nutrition communications coordinator at the International Food Information Council Foundation, adds that, while negative-calorie foods can certainly be part of a healthy diet, you can't solely rely on them to meet your nutrient needs. If you did, your diet would be extremely low in calories and essential vitamins and minerals.
Choosing a Peanut Butter
If you want to incorporate celery and peanut butter for weight loss, make sure you choose the right kind of peanut butter. Many big name, commercial varieties have added sugar and processed salt, which can contribute to weight gain and work against you when you're trying to drop the pounds. Some peanut butters also have added oils that may sneak in some trans fats, although all trans fats will be phased out of commercially-prepared foods by January 2021.
Look at the ingredient lists and choose peanut butter that contains only one ingredient: peanuts. If there are ingredients you don't recognize, skip it. Due to increasing interest in foods without additives, many manufacturers are making natural peanut butters available in most grocery stores. But, if you can't find any, you can easily make your own by processing raw shelled peanuts in a food processor or high-speed blender until it reaches the consistency of peanut butter.
The Final Word
Including celery in your diet, especially when you use it to replace other undesirable snack choices, like chips or french fries, can contribute to weight loss. When coupled with peanut butter, the snack provides fiber, protein and healthy fats that work together to keep you full and promote weight loss. Keep in mind that, while the fiber in celery is linked to weight loss, celery alone won't be as satiating as celery and peanut butter. The protein in the peanut butter is what helps reduce appetite the most.
But, celery and peanut butter isn't a magic cure for weight loss. While it's a good option as part of a healthy diet, it won't make up for poor dietary choices. In other words, if you eat pizza for every meal, adding celery and peanut butter as a snack probably won't help you drop pounds.
Take an honest look at your diet and adjust accordingly. Make sure you're staying within a reasonable caloric goal and eating lots of vegetables and lean proteins, in addition to celery and peanut butter.
- International Food Information Council Foundation: "Mythbuster: Negative Calorie Foods"
- Mayo Clinic: "We've Heard That Eating Negative-Calorie Foods Might Be a Good Diet Strategy. But What Exactly Are They?"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "A Review of the Effects of Nuts on Appetite, Food Intake, Metabolism, and Body Weight"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Changes in Intake of Protein Foods, Carbohydrate Amount and Quality, and Long-Term Weight Change: Results From 3 Prospective Cohorts"
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: "Peanut Butter, Smooth Style, Without Salt"
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: "Celery, Raw"
- European Journal of Nutrition: "Nut Intake and 5-Year Changes in Body Weight and Obesity Risk in Adults: Results From the EPIC-PANACEA Study"
- Annals of Internal Medicine: "Single-Component Versus Multicomponent Dietary Goals for the Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Trial"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Final Determination Regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Removing Trans Fat)"