What to eat before and after working out is a hot topic. Before your workout, the goal is to energize your body to sustain exercise. After working out, your muscles may be fatigued and therefore need replenishment. Consuming peanut butter after a workout may maximize how quickly you recover.
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Peanut butter is one of the most popular nut butters. It is accessible, affordable and delicious. Certain peanut butters can also provide a decent amount of healthy fat and protein. For people who are not allergic to peanuts, peanut butter can be part of a healthy post-workout snack.
Pre-workout drinks and post-workout snacks are popular ways to fuel your body leading up to exercise and replenish afterwards. Peanut butter is a potent source of calories and nutrients that can easily be incorporated before and after working out.
Peanut Butter Nutrition Facts
Peanut butter is commonly referred to as a healthy source of fat, but that is not the only nutrient that makes this nut butter a great post-workout snack. Peanut butter is also a great source of protein, carbohydrates, omega-6 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium and vitamin E.
According to the USDA, one tablespoon of peanut butter contains:
- 96 calories
- 3.5 grams of protein
- 8 grams of fat
- 3.5 grams of carbohydrates
Since peanut butter is a good source of protein, it can be part of a high-protein snack or meal after a grueling workout. To stay within your macronutrient targets, look for a peanut butter brand with peanuts as the main ingredient. Some peanut butter brands are higher in calories, saturated fat, sugar and sodium from added ingredients.
The carbohydrates in peanut butter can also provide energy before a workout. The body converts carbohydrates into ATP molecules, which can be used for energy. Carbs are also stored as glycogen for later use. It is not uncommon for professional athletes to load up on carbohydrates before a training session.
Read more: 7 Healthy Peanut Butter Brands
Health Benefits of Peanut Butter
Some people use peanut butter for building muscle since it is high in protein, but it is also associated with other health benefits. The research surrounding peanut butter consumption suggests that it can help manage diabetes and promote heart health.
In a small October 2018 study published in Nutrients, researchers divided 32 participants into two groups to see whether almonds or peanuts had a greater effect on blood lipid levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes. At the end of the study, both groups had improved blood glucose levels, though no significant differences were found between the effectiveness of peanuts and almonds. The study concluded that both nuts can be incorporated into a balanced diet for diabetics.
Peanuts and peanut butter are also associated with lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. The American Diabetes Association lists peanut butter as a source of monounsaturated fat that help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol.
According to the Mayo Clinic, eating nut products like peanut butter can lower levels of inflammation linked to heart disease. Since peanut butter is associated with heart health benefits, it may be suitable for people who who to prevent cardiovascular conditions.
Read more: Are Peanuts Healthy for Your Heart?
Peanut Butter for Weight Loss
To lose weight, one must create a caloric deficit. This can be accomplished through exercise, diet or a combination of the two. To create a caloric deficit through diet, first establish your basal metabolic rate and subtract a certain amount of calories from your food consumption. To lose one pound per week, you would ideally subtract 500 calories per day from your caloric intake.
Peanut butter is a tasty source of many nutrients. Though it is not considered a low-calorie food, peanut butter can be part of your weight management program. It has even been shown to promote weight loss in both adults and children.
In an October 2018 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, researchers found a positive correlation between nut intake and reduced weight gain in adults. Over the course of five years, participants who had the highest consumption of various nuts, including peanuts, had a lower risk of having obesity or overweight.
Eating peanuts and peanut butter may also help children maintain a healthy body weight. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Applied Research on Children found that overweight children in the high peanut consumption group saw significant greater decreases in BMI than the low adherence group.
Read more: Does Peanut Butter Make You Fat?
Peanut Butter for Building Muscle
Many bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts turn to peanut butter for building muscle. The American Council on Exercise notes the importance of meal timing for optimal performance and quick recovery. They recommend consuming 15-20 grams of muscle-repairing protein and 5-10 grams of appetite-satiating fat in a post-workout meal.
A core benefit of consuming peanuts or peanut butter after working out is the high protein content, which translates into a hefty dose of amino acids. Protein is made up of amino acids, which play a vital role in building muscle.
A small June 2017 study with just 10 participants published in Frontiers of Physiology found that men who consumed amino acids after a workout had 22 percent greater muscle protein synthesis than men who did not. However, peanut butter does not contain all of the essential amino acids and should be combined with other proteins, such as legumes and grains.
After your workout, no need to rush home and chug a protein shake. The International Society of Sport Nutrition suggests consuming high-quality protein up to two hours after a workout. Peanut butter can be eaten as a snack after a workout, but it does not constitute a high-protein meal by itself.
Peanut Butter After a Workout
Experts agree that snacking on peanut butter after a workout provides a healthy source of protein, fat and other nutrients. The calories will refuel your fatigued muscles and the micronutrients will help prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Peanut butter also has proven health benefits, and it can aid in both weight loss and muscle gain. Depending on your fitness goals, you may want to consume more or less peanut butter. Remember that a 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter has nearly 200 calories.
Some post-workout snack ideas with peanut butter include:
Though peanut butter is not a complete protein source, it can be combined with other proteins to provide all the essential amino acids after a workout. As long as you consume peanut butter with other proteins within two hours of your workout, you will reap the post- workout benefits.
- USDA FoodData Central: “Peanut Butter”
- European Journal of Nutrition: “Nut Intake and 5-Year Changes in Body Weight and Obesity Risk in Adults: Results From the EPIC-PANACEA Study”
- Journal of Applied Research on Children: “Benefits of a Snacking Intervention as Part of a School-Based Obesity Intervention for Mexican American Children”
- Nutrients: “A Randomized Controlled Trial to Compare the Effect of Peanuts and Almonds on the Cardio-Metabolic and Inflammatory Parameters in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.”
- American Diabetes Association: “Fats”
- Mayo Clinic: “Nuts and Your Heart: Eating Nuts for Heart Health”
- American Council on Exercise: “Meal Timing: What and When to Eat for Performance and Recovery”
- Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition: “International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Nutrient Timing.”
- Frontiers of Physiology: "Branched-Chain Amino Acid Ingestion Stimulates Muscle Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following Resistance Exercise in Humans"