Peanut butter... Whats all the hype?
Today in the average bodybuilder's diet, peanut butter is often used as a staple food, particularly for athletes who want to get more calories in for bulking season. Peanut butter has become so popular you could probably put it up there with eggs, chicken and tuna nowadays. This article will go into more detail, explaining why peanut butter has become so popular, what the benefits of eating it are and how you can go about including it in your diet throughout the day.
Firstly though, to give you some context... Depending on how much you weigh and how much bodyfat you're holding, dietary fat (meaning fat that comes from your food) should only comprise about 20 to 30 percent of your daily calories. As long as you're sticking to this rule, your next priority should be to make sure that the dietary fats you take in come from healthful sources. The majority of your dietary fat intake should be unsaturated and completely free of trans-fat. You can have saturated fats but just keep them low if you're cutting weight and a bit higher if you're bulking.
Just to be clear...
'Saturated Fats' are fats found in pretty much anything meat based, butter, anything that's an animal product or anything created from whole milk sources.
'Trans Fats' usually come in the form of vegetable oils or anything that has been 'hydrogenated' like margarine for example. Trans fats have gotten lots of bad press in recent years and subsequently have been taken out of a lot of foods.
Fats that are 'unsaturated' are the best way you can get your dietary fat in every day. You'll find that foods such as fish, olive oil and peanut butter are full of healthy unsaturated fats so it's best to use these to make sure you hit that 20 to 30 percent every day.
Research backs up the health benefits of unsaturated fats too. Studies have shown that people who eat a diet high in foods like peanut butter, avocados and olive oil are way more likely to lose weight and then keep it off in comparison with people who jump on the 'low fat' craze bandwagon. I have no idea what would possess anyone to buy 'reduced-fat' peanut butter in the first place as it won't help them lose any weight. They should save money and buy a regular natural peanut butter instead as reduced-fat peanut butters have pretty much the same calories as natural peanut butter on account of the manufacturers shoving dodgy ingredients into the mix to replace all the missing fat. Starch and sugar will have been added in high amounts, making the calories you'd save negligible.
More studies have come out still, one from Purdue University in Indiana found that test subjects who snacked on peanut butter felt fuller and ate much less overall during the day compared to other subjects who snacked on carbs or saturated fat sources. Then in a recent American Medical Association Journal, a study was published showing that by consuming 2 tablespoons of peanut butter at least 5 days a week you could lower your risk of getting diabetes by almost 30 percent!
Is that it? Are there any other reasons you should be eating peanut butter? Of course.
Peanut butter can be used to fight off your cravings and stay on track towards your goals. Think about it, it's much better to have two tablespoons of peanut butter when you're craving junk food than it is to actually give in and have KFC or ice cream. A diet that allows you small treats like peanut butter is a diet you will find easier to stick to. Remember that the best plans are ones that you actually follow to the end, so adding in enjoyable but healthy foods like peanut butter means you won't be feeling increasingly deprived as you get further towards these goals.
You will never have a healthy diet to follow that will prevent you from feeling hungry at different points during the day so it's best if you can lessen the hunger by eating foods that keep you feeling full. Foods that are high in fiber and protein are best at doing this, like peanut butter, which in each average serving gives you about two grams of fiber and eight grams of protein. By feeling full more often, you'll eat less calories overall during your day.
Peanut butter is also extremely cost effective, especially for those of you who are bulking. It's far better to save money and not have to buy tons of protein powder or expensive protein bars to keep your calorific intake at a surplus. Why not just add peanut butter where your daily meals permit it and gain weight that way? It's also way way cheaper to do this instead of using other bodybuilding staple foods like cottage cheese, tuna or turkey!
When you're stood in the supermarket or looking online it can be difficult to discern what brand of peanut butter you should go with. Some brands are completely processed, others relatively unprocessed and some are completely natural. Completely natural is usually more expensive but it's still the best way to go. If you think about it, eating a handful of peanuts should be giving you the same health effects that eating the same amount of peanut butter does, as peanut butter is just ground up peanuts. Nothing should be added to change this, nothing whatsoever.
So be careful and check the back label on your peanut butter.
It should read: 100% Peanuts.
Not: Peanuts, Dextrose, Vegetable Oil, Sugar, Salt, Partially Hydrogenated blah blah blah.
You see, when the majority of peanut butters are made for supermarket shelves, their natural oil gets converted into a much harder and more saturated type of fat, this then makes sure the oil never separates from the peanut butter or rises to the top like it does with natural peanut butter. This new oil is made of trans fats so that's why commercial supermarket peanut butters are horrific for you in the long run. Some people do find it annoying when using natural peanut butter that they have to stir the oil and mix it with the peanut butter again every time you open the tub but I'll give you a tip now on how to avoid this. Simply store the tub somewhere cool and dry, but store it upside down so the oil floats upwards to the bottom of the tub. Just make sure you have sealed the tub completely and without a doubt!
If you're on a cutting diet you may be wondering if you should be eating peanut butter at all. Don't worry, as long as the amount of peanut butter you're eating fits in with your daily macros and stays below either that 20 or 30 percent they you'll continue to lose weight like you want to. It is even possible to lower your carbs and increase the amount of fat you can eat that way in order to get some peanut butter in there each day. After all, your body does actually need a good amount of dietary fat even when you're trying to cut weight. Omega 3 and 6 are both needed for a healthy metabolism and to also keep your hormone production working at a decent level.
To conclude, peanut butter is incredibly versatile and you can take it in a multitude of ways throughout your day, this is probably why it's so popular. It can be mixed in with protein shakes, oatmeal and cottage cheese, or just had on its own as a snack. In shakes, peanut butter helps improve the taste and texture and it also slows down the speed at which your stomach digests its' food, this is why if you're going to put peanut butter in your shake you shouldn't have it pre or post workout when you need protein fast, its way better to include it in a pre-bed shake instead. As an alternative you can also mix peanut butter into your cottage cheese to have before bed instead so you ensure a slow drip feed of protein into the muscles overnight.