While peanut butter for fat loss might sound like an oxymoron, the fact is, the human body needs fat for overall maintenance, including brain health. Furthermore, fat helps you better absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
The key is to find healthy fats, in lieu of saturated and trans fats that harm your heart. While peanut butter alone can't burn excess body fat, this healthy fat can aid your weight-loss efforts along with diet and exercise.
Peanut Butter for Fat Loss
Peanut butter is considered a healthy fat because of its monounsaturated fat content. Known for its heart-health effects, unsaturated fat has the ability to decrease bad cholesterol levels while also protecting your overall cardiovascular health.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics estimates that half of the fat content in peanut butter is monounsaturated. Peanuts are also a valued source of protein and fiber.
Effects on the Body
Eating peanut butter won't automatically make your body burn fat. However, the monounsaturated fat content can satiate cravings for junk food derived from unhealthy fats. The protein and fiber also keeps you full for longer, even preventing the sugar crashes that often lead to binge eating.
According to a two-part, small March 2013 study of 79 individuals published by Nutrition Journal, peanuts were shown to increase feelings of fullness one hour after consumption. In addition, total calories consumed were slightly lower on the days that participants consumed nuts. Of note, the same results occurred when a grain bar was substituted for peanuts in this study.
Similarly, a small study of 16 adults published in the May-June 2019 issue of the_ Journal of the American College of Nutrition_ showed that adding 2 tablespoons of peanut butter to a high-carbohydrate meal lowers the overall spike in blood sugar.
Finding the Right Peanut Butter
Look for brands of peanut butter labeled as "natural." These have the highest amounts of monounsaturated fat without added syrups and hydrogenated oils, the latter of which is a source of trans fat. Don't get rid of excess oil on top of the peanut butter — this is where the healthy monounsaturated fat is. Instead, carefully stir the jar before use.
There are other brands of natural peanut butter that don't have separated oils, but they might have other ingredients, such as molasses. Often labeled as "no-stir," these supposedly natural peanut butters may also contain added hydrogenated oils to homogenize them and prevent separation. An alternative to jarred peanut butter is to make your own out of plain peanuts and a little salt.
Beyond Peanut Butter
Long-term weight maintenance and overall health depends on a healthy diet. In other words, you shouldn't rely on peanut butter alone. Try other sources of monounsaturated fats, such as avocados, nuts and olive oil.
Despite its benefits, peanut butter also contains saturated fat and a lot of calories, as described by Harvard Health. Minding your portions can go a long way in making sure you gain the most benefit without destroying your weight-loss efforts. One serving size is 2 tablespoons.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Choose Healthy Fats"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Why Is Peanut Butter 'Healthy' if It Has Saturated Fat?"
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: "The Effect of Added Peanut Butter on the Glycemic Response to a High-Glycemic Index Meal: A Pilot Study"
- Nutrition Journal: "The Effect of Peanut and Grain Bar Preloads on Postmeal Satiety, Glycemia, and Weight Loss in Healthy Individuals: An Acute and a Chronic Randomized Intervention Trial"