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When you’re trying to lose weight or cut body fat for physique or performance goals, you may worry about which foods you should or should not eat, including peanut butter.
So, can you eat peanut butter while cutting? Yes, you can eat peanut butter while cutting. You should include a variety of foods in moderation while cutting, especially foods you enjoy. As long as you balance your daily caloric intake, you will still meet your goals. No food should be off-limits during a cut, including peanut butter, unless you have an allergy.
With that said, peanut butter is a high-fat food. So if you’re going to include it in a cutting phase, I’ll share some tips with you below on how to do it effectively, including how to keep track of the intake, how much to eat, the best time to eat it, and which peanut butter is best for weight loss.
Peanut Butter & Weight Loss: What People Are Saying
If you are worried about peanut butter and weight loss, you are not alone.
Internet forums are rife with questions and concerns about peanut butter while dieting:
- “Is peanut butter good while cutting?” (BodyBuilding.com)
- “Is peanut butter good for weight loss?” (BodyBuilding.com)
- “Does eating peanut butter make you gain weight?” (QUORA)
- “Should I stop eating peanut butter to lose weight faster?” (QUORA)
As I said before, you can successfully cut while eating peanut butter, and I’m going to share how. But first, let’s learn about the calorie and macronutrient contents of peanut butter.
Peanut Butter Overview: Calories, Macronutrients, & Micronutrients
The nutritional content of peanut butter can vary slightly from brand to brand. On average, a 1-tbsp (15g) serving of peanut butter has the following nutritional content:
- Calories: 90
- Carbs: 4g (2g sugar)
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 3g
- Fat: 8g
- Sodium: 60mg
With 8g of fat per serving (providing 72 of 90 total calories), peanut butter is primarily a source of fat, but the carbs and protein will also need to be considered as part of your overall intake.
If you are not already tracking your intake, you should begin tracking your daily intake using an app like MacroFactor. Use this link and enter the code FEASTGOOD when signing up to get an extra week on your free trial (2 weeks total). Cancel any time before your trial ends without being charged.
According to The Peanut Institute:
“Peanuts and peanut butter are full of vitamins and minerals that are integral to growth, development, metabolic function, and immunity.”The Peanut Institute
Peanut butter is an excellent source of the following micronutrients:
(The below information is based on the percentage of Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) shown for a 1-ounce serving)
- Copper: Copper helps with blood pressure control, a key indicator of heart health and important for your cardiovascular fitness, and helps with bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and keeping your bones strong for strength training. A 1-ounce serving provides 21% of the RDA.
- Manganese: Manganese helps other enzymes to carry out their functions in the body, such as forming connective tissue like the ligaments and tendons that are so important when lifting weights. A 1-ounce serving provides 26% of the RDA.
- Niacin (Vitamin B3): Niacin helps convert food to energy (a key consideration for your training) and it is an important micronutrient for skin health, and digestive & cognitive function. A 1-ounce serving provides 25% of the RDA.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an important antioxidant and can assist with immune function, meaning you’re less likely to get sick even when you’re training hard. A 1-ounce serving provides 20% of the RDA.
Can I Eat Peanut Butter & Still Lose Weight? Or Is Peanut Butter Off Limits?
Yes, you can eat peanut butter & still lose weight. In order to lose weight, your energy intake from the foods you eat must be less than your energy output. As long as your total calorie intake for the day is less than your energy expenditure, you will lose weight even when some of your calories come from peanut butter.
How Do I Incorporate Peanut Butter In My Diet While Cutting?
Fitting Peanut Butter Into Your Macros
Follow these three easy steps to fit peanut butter into your macros. If you already have your macros for cutting, skip to Step 3.
Step 1: Determine your calories
Use an online calorie calculator like this one to estimate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). Your TDEE is how many calories you need to maintain your weight.
Input your age, gender, height, current weight, and activity level and press Calculate. The “Maintain weight” result is your current estimated TDEE.
Start with a 10% reduction in calories (e.g. 200 calories in this example, for a total daily intake of 1,800 calories). You can adjust if needed after assessing the results in 2-3 weeks.
Step 2: Determine your macros
Once you know your total calories, it’s time to determine your macronutrient split between protein, carbohydrates and fats.
A general guideline for athletes is to consume 1.2 – 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or up to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. In the case of desired weight loss, this can be based on goal body weight as opposed to current body weight.
Protein ideally can provide 25-35% of your total daily calories. For the example above, this could be 1,800 x 30% = 540 calories. Each gram of protein supplies 4 calories, so this is 135g of protein.
An active person would look to have ~40% of calories coming from carbohydrates. For the example above, this would be 1,800 x 40% = 720 calories. Each gram of protein supplies 4 calories, so this is 180g of carbs.
The remaining 540 calories would be from fat. Fat provides 9 calories per gram, so this is 60g of fat per day.
Step 3: Plan for peanut butter in your macros
If peanut butter was the only fat source for the day, this would mean over 7 tbsp of peanut butter for a total of 60g of fat as an example. Of course, peanut butter won’t and shouldn’t be the only fat source. It is important to include a variety of sources of fat in your diet.
However, you can easily plan to eat at least 1-2 tbsp of peanut butter during a cutting phase and still have enough calories coming from other fat sources.
- Need a meal plan, check out: 1800 Calorie Bodybuilding Meal Plan & Diet (Printable)
Types Of Peanut Butter
It’s important to realize that there are actually three types of peanut butter to consider:
1. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter (often called “regular peanut butter”) is a spreadable paste made up of at least 90% ground peanuts, which may be either roasted or raw and blanched or unblanched.
Jif Peanut Butter is a good example of this type.
The remaining 10% of ingredients is usually made of added oils, sugars and salts.
2. Natural Peanut Butter
Natural peanut butter, like Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter (Chunky), is made using only peanuts.
Salt may or may not be added, but no sugar is added. This is why natural peanut butter separates, with the peanut oil rising to the top of the container.
3. Peanut Butter “Spread”
If peanut butter is made with less than 90% ground peanuts it must be called “peanut butter spread.” Sometimes in these “spreads”, you’ll find palm oil, sugar, and molasses.
Jif Natural Creamy Peanut Butter Spread is a good example.
Does The Type Of Peanut Butter Matter When It Comes To Losing Weight?
No, the type of peanut butter does not matter when it comes to losing weight. It is important to consider peanut butter in the context of your overall intake for the day. If you find yourself more likely to overeat certain types of peanut butter than others, then it is wise to steer clear of those types.
For example, the added salt and/or sugar in some peanut butters make them more appealing to overeat (often called “hyperpalatable”).
If you find it hard to stop eating certain kinds of peanut butter, it’s best to stop eating them to allow you to achieve your goals. You may find that unflavoured natural peanut butter is less palatable than a brand with added salt and/or sugar.
There are also claims that natural peanut butter is healthier because it does not contain hydrogenated fat and added sugars.
However, less than half a gram of fat in a 1-ounce (2 tbsp) serving of regular peanut butter is from hydrogenated fat. The added sugar is also only 1-2 grams in total (<10 calories) in a 1-ounce serving. These are well below levels of concern from an overall health perspective.
Another consideration is cognitive dietary restraint.
This is the perceived ongoing effort to restrict dietary intake to manage body weight. It can show up as anxiety about always making the “right” food choices, labeling food as “good” or “bad” and feeling guilty when eating “bad” foods.
Constant preoccupation with restricting food intake or food types can have negative outcomes on stress levels and may even lead to the development of disordered eating. These high-stress levels can actually make it harder to lose weight. You may also be more likely to binge when you declare a certain type of food to be off-limits.
Key Takeaway: If you really like regular peanut butter but you constantly feel guilty about it and choose natural peanut butter instead, you could be doing more harm than good. Rest assured that you can still lose weight while eating regular peanut butter.
- Looking for a recipe with peanut butter, try our Peanut Butter Protein Balls.
How Much Peanut Butter To Eat While Cutting?
The recommended serving size of peanut butter is 1-2 tbsp (15-30g). A total of 1-2 servings per day is appropriate for cutting, depending on your total fat macros for the day, and the other sources of fat that you consume.
What To Eat With Peanut Butter While Cutting
Since peanut butter is primarily a source of fat, pair it with lean protein like Greek yogurt and a carbohydrate source like oatmeal for an overall balanced meal.
- Check out one of my favorite peanut butter recipes (which has options for cutting diets): The Best Peanut Butter Oatmeal Recipe for Bodybuilding.
When To Eat Peanut Butter While Cutting
Fat consumption should be low both pre-workout and post-workout.
Fat takes longer to digest so it does not provide the fast-acting energy needed prior to a workout. Post-workout, it can slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and protein needed for glycogen replenishment and muscle protein synthesis after a workout.
Peanut butter is great to eat at any meal or snack away from the training window. Do not eat peanut butter immediately pre-or post-workout.
A meal 2-3 hours or more before or after training is an appropriate time to have peanut butter.
Are There Any Reasons Not To Eat Peanut Butter While Cutting?
There are a few important reasons why peanut butter should be off-limits.
Peanut allergies are the third most common food allergy, after milk and eggs. A peanut allergy is a serious and important reason to avoid peanuts and peanut butter.
Peanut butter has a compound called “lectins”, which can cause unpleasant symptoms such as acne, inflammation, joint pain, and gastric distress in some people, even if you do not have an allergy to these foods.
If eating peanut butter causes these symptoms, it is wise to steer clear.
Final Stages of a Competitive Bodybuilding Cut
During the final prep weeks leading up to a competitive bodybuilding stage show, your coach may reduce fat and/or carbs to such a low level that you can no longer realistically include peanut butter in your daily macros without unreasonably compromising the rest of your intake.
If peanut butter causes any bloating or water retention for you, then it also would be off-limits in this timeframe.
This is extreme and should be a brief, temporary measure that ends after the show. Stage prep is not a healthy, sustainable way of eating to be used in the long-term.
If you follow the Paleo Diet, advocates will point out that peanuts are not considered Paleo, along with other legumes, grains, and more.
It may be possible to consume peanut butter while doing a keto diet, however, as long as the amount is moderate.
Keep in mind that 1 tbsp of peanut butter provides 4 grams of carbohydrates along with 8 grams of fat. Too much peanut butter would cause carbohydrate intake to be too high for ketosis.
Note that our team of nutrition coaches and Registered Dieticians at FeastGood does not generally recommend eating approaches/diets that restrict or remove entire categories of food, except in special, medically-necessary circumstances.
If you’d like a free one-on-one consultation with one of our coaches, check out our coaching services page.
3 Best Peanut Butters For Cutting
Now that you know that you can eat peanut butter while cutting, which peanut butter should you choose? I will share my top three recommendations.
Kraft Only Peanuts Crunchy All Natural Peanut Butter – Best Overall For Cutting
My top pick is Kraft Only Peanuts™ Crunchy All Natural Peanut Butter.
Nutritional content for 1 tbsp (15g):
- Calories: 90
- Carbs: 3g (1g sugar; 0g added sugar)
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 4g
- Fat: 7g
- Sodium: 0mg
The only ingredient is 100% dry-roasted peanuts. This means no added sugar, salt or oil. The calories are in line with other brands, and there is actually one less gram of fat and one more gram of protein than many other brands.
Another bonus is that the pieces of whole peanuts in crunchy peanut butter take more energy to digest (the thermic effect of eating) than the peanuts that have been ground into peanut butter. This means a lower overall net calorie impact in your day.
Adams 100% Natural Dark Roast Crunchy Peanut Butter – Best Taste
In second place, I have Adams® 100% Natural Dark Roast Crunchy Peanut Butter.
Nutritional content for 1 tbsp (16g):
- Calories: 90
- Carbs: 3g (1g sugar; 0g added sugar)
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 4g
- Fat: 8g
- Sodium: 50mg
As I mentioned in my number one pick, crunchy peanut butter takes longer to digest and can help with keeping you feeling fuller longer. This brand does have a little bit of added salt, but 50mg per serving is still considered “low in sodium.”
The dark roasted peanuts give this brand a more intense peanut flavor. The richer flavor and added salt do make it a bit more tempting to go back for more. Be sure to carefully measure your serving size. The risk of overeating is why I have this in second place.
Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter – Best Creamy Option
The bronze medal goes to Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter.
Nutritional content for 1 tbsp (16g):
- Calories: 95
- Carbs: 3.5g (1g sugar; 0g added sugar)
- Fiber: 1.5g
- Protein: 4g
- Fat: 8g
- Sodium: 55mg
I wanted to be sure to include a creamy peanut butter option for those who don’t like crunchy peanut butter. This is also a mainstream brand that can be found in most major grocery stores. The only ingredients are peanuts and a touch of salt.
Tips For Peanut Butter Portion Control
If you struggle with portion control for peanut butter, consider the following tips:
- Accurately measure your serving, ideally using a food scale and not a spoon. 1 tbsp of peanut butter is 15g. Your tablespoon could easily hold more than 15g, especially if you heap the peanut butter to create a rounded tablespoon.
- Buy single-serving packets of peanut butter to reduce the risk of too-big or too many spoonfuls
- Choose a less palatable type of peanut butter (usually peanuts-only with no added salt, sugar or oil)
- Do not keep peanut butter in your house if you are unable to control your portion sizes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should You Stop Eating Peanut Butter To Lose Weight Faster?
No, you do not need to stop eating peanut butter to lose weight faster unless you are unable to control your portion size. Peanut butter is a great source of healthy fats.
How Much Peanut Butter Can You Eat Per Day & Still Lose Weight?
As long as your total calorie intake for the day is less than your energy expenditure, you will lose weight. Peanut butter should be just one part of an overall balanced day along with other sources of fat, protein, and carbs. I recommend a maximum of 1-2 tbsp per day of peanut butter to lose weight.
Eating Other Foods While Cutting
- Can I Eat Whole Eggs While Cutting? (Yes, Here’s How)
- Can I Eat Bread While Cutting?
- Can I Eat Chocolate While Cutting?
- Can I Eat Rice While Cutting?
- Can I Eat Pasta While Cutting?
- Can I Eat Fruit While Cutting?
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About The Author
Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement. Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete. She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.
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