Is Peanut Butter Healthy?

Is Peanut Butter Healthy?

Peanut butter is a household staple in the typical American diet. It is most commonly used on bread, fruit, vegetables, and crackers as a convenient and “healthy” spread. However, is peanut butter actually healthy? The short answer is yes, with shades of grey.

Important Things to Consider

1. NEVER buy peanut butter with fully or partially hydrogenated oils. This “ingredient” is in about 90% of commonly consumed peanut butters and is an immediate red flag that should be avoided.

2. There should never be more than 2 ingredients in your product. Peanuts and salt (preferably no salt added is the best option). Look for products with one ingredient, peanuts.  If no products have just one ingredient than opt for the product with 2 ingredients, peanuts and salt.

3. Always buy natural peanut butter with the oil on top. Yes, it is a little bit inconvenient to stir, but this is peanut butter in its natural/unprocessed state.

4. Dont be duped by marketing slogans such as “reduced fat” or “smart balance”. The only thing you should be looking at is the ingredient list.

5. Numerous studies have shown that people who regularly include nuts or peanut butter in their diets are less likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes than those who rarely eat nuts.

6. Peanut butter is full of vitamins, minerals, and potassium and a great source of protein and calories. With that being said, if you are watching your total calorie intake keep in mind 1 serving of peanut butter (2 tbsp) has ~200 calories.

7. According to research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, people who eat a diet high in foods like olive oil, avocados, and peanut butter are more likely to lose weight and keep it off than people following a more regimented, lower-fat diet.

Which Products To Avoid

Any peanut butter with more than 2 ingredients such as hydrogenated oils.

What To Choose

Natural Peanut Butters With Oil On Top And Contains Less Than 2 Ingredients

Notice the ingredients.  Peanuts… That’s it!

or

Natural, Raw, Almond Butter

  • The same principle applies to almond butter. Look for products where the ingredients listed are just almonds. Any unnecessary oils, sugars, or salts, should tell you to avoid that particular product which has gone through more processing with artificial additives to increase taste and shelf life.

Conclusion

Yes peanut butter is healthy. I use natural peanut and almond butter on broccoli, celery, half an apple, or half a banana.  Peanut butter paired with a fruit or vegetable can make for a great snack or side dish. Where people start to run into trouble is when they start mixing peanut butter with sugary jams and processed bread. 99% of Jam is fake/artificial sugar and when you couple that with 25-45 grams of processed carbohydrates from bread the once “healthy” peanut butter it can be transformed into a sugar and carb loaded nightmare. But to answer the question of the article,YES, 1 serving of natural peanut butter or almond butter is healthy as long as you are mixing it with the right foods.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin
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The Truth About Nutrition Bars

The Truth About Nutrition Bars

In a recent study published by consumerlabs.com 30 nutrition bars were broken down/analyzed and over 60% of the bars failed to meet labeling claims! What is really in your “health or nutrition bar”?

Thank you to Rachel for the suggestion on this topic.

Meal replacement bars, snack bars, weight loss bars, energy bars, and protein bars are a convenient and easy way for people to get a quick snack or meal when they are on the go. The problem is that 99% of the products out there are loaded with carbs and sugars that spike insulin levels and promote fat storage. Despite the hidden ingredients and artificial additives, marketing gurus have duped consumers into thinking that these “nutrition bars” are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals when in reality this is far from the truth. The FDA claims that it currently does not have any formal guidelines for nutrition bars or the labeling on nutrition bars.

The Breakdown

“Protein Bar” is an extremely deceptive term.  Most bars contain more carbs than protein. The consumer labs study found that a typical bar is made up of

  • 49% of calories from carbohydrates (mostly from sugars)
  • 29% of calories from protein
  • 22% of calories from fat
What To Stay Away From 
Clif Bars
The concern here is the 45 grams of carbs and 21 grams of sugar (for comparison a snickers bar has 35 grams of carbs and 28 sugars). If you are not an endurance athlete than that amount of carbs in the form of a small snack is way to high. Ever notice how the Clif Bar rapper conveniently covers the ingredient list. Here is why. With over 30 ingredients, it is hard to decipher what exactly the bar is made up of.  Organic rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, organic evaporated can juice, organic date paste, are all fancy names for sugar that make up this so-called “nutrition bar”. While ingredients like evaporated cane juice are not as detrimental to refined sugar, it is close enough.
The Take Away– Stay away from Clif bars
Atkins Advantage Bar
With Atkins Advantage you get more bang for you buck because the lower carb and sugar levels. You also get a solid 15 grams of protein with only 210 calories. The unfortunate part is the saturated fat and ingredients. With over 50 ingredients, there are several hidden land mines such as glycerin, sucralose, cellulose, artificial flavors, which are all code names for SUGARS!
The take away- Eat only if there is no whole/unprocessed foods available like fruit or nuts.
Nature Valley Bar
I commend General Mills for their bold and forthright honesty. They are not trying to hide anything. The second ingredient is SUGAR! With high levels of carbohydrates and sugar, nature valley bars have nothing “natural” about them. High fructose corn syrup and brown sugar syrup are two ingredients that have single handily added to the obesity problems in the US.
The take away- Don’t even think about it
Power Bars
This label is also very informative as it provides the disclaimer that the FDA has no regulation over these “health bars”. With 45 carbs,  27 grams of sugar, ingredients such as evaporated cane juice, glucose syrup, and fructose, a power bar is basically a glorified candy bar. At least they have less than 30 ingredients as opposed to some of the other examples listed right?
The take away- If you are going to have something with the nutritional equivalent of a candy bar why not actually have a candy bar that tastes great? Opt for a snickers or twix instead.
Why so much sugar?

In their early development, nutrition bars were bland and primarily eaten by fitness enthusiasts. However, the bars underwent a transformation to appeal to general consumers. The bland, stiff, and protein packed bars didn’t necessarily appeal to the general population. To compensate, manufacturers made their products more flavorful by adding corn syrup, sugar, sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, colors and hydrogenated oils, which are all bad for your health.

What To Eat Instead

Kind Bar

Definitely the best nutrition bar out there. The calorie, carbohydrate, protein, and sugar content is a well-balanced mixture that can provide an adequate snack  in between meals. What I love about these bars is the simplicity of the ingredients and the natural additives. Unlike the rest of the bars, you don’t see a list of 30 ingredients with names that are too long to pronounce.

The take away– A good snack that offers a variety from eating nuts or dried fruits by themselves or with trail mix.

Conclusion

As a general guideline, the less ingredients the better. Eating something in its most natural state is always your best bet. The best example I can think of is a product like peanut butter. When buying peanut butter look for one ingredient, PEANUTS! Avoid products with ingredients other than peanuts like what you see in most commercial products.  For example, Jif regular peanut butter’s list of ingredients includes peanuts, salt, sugar, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, and diglycerides. I never encourage people to eat anything processed like nutrition bars but I understand there or some times when nothing else is available. If that is the case, choose something like a KIND Bar where there are only a few ingredients or prepare ahead and always carry around some nuts and fruits.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin

5 Great Fat Loss Tips For Summer

5 Great Fat Loss Tips For Summer

Utilize Multi-Joint Exercises

  • Multi-joint exercises work large muscle groups which require the most energy and create the largest anabolic response in your body which  leads to the greatest amount of calorie expenditure. (long winded sentence?)
  •  Multi-joint lifts imitate our natural movements by working several muscle groups and in the process create a healthier posture and more proportional frame.
  • The body works better in movements along a kinetic chain; that is, large portions of the body assist other portions of the body in completing a complex movement. Dont limit yourself to isolated movements (like a bicep curl) if you want to burn fat.
  • Multi-joint exercises increase your metabolic rate and stimulate production of more fat burning hormones such as growth hormones and testosterone.
Examples

  1. Squats
  2. Deadlifts
  3. Power Cleans

Use Circuit Training And Short Rest Intervals

  • Circuit training creates maximal growth hormone responses which is the most efficient way to burn fat.
  • It is optimal for raising your metabolism which will have fat burning effects during your workout and up to 48 hours after your workout.
  • Short rest intervals ensure your heart rate stays elevated for the entirety of the workout which will create the largest amounts of caloric expenditure.
Examples
  1. Supersets and tri-sets
  2. Crossfit workouts
  3. Interval training

Eat High Protein, Low Carb, Low Glycemic, And Unprocessed Food

  • Foods that fall under these guidelines will ensure you are conserving/building muscle and lean body mass while burning fat.
  • Foods with a low glycemic index will allow you to control your blood sugar and maintain steady insulin levels which will limit fat storage and ensure a healthy metabolism.
  • Low-carb and unprocessed foods will be utilized by the body as energy and help to break down proteins and fats which will help trigger the fat burning function in the body.
  • High protein and high fiber foods will keep you feeling full longer and help prevent overeating.
Examples
  1. Lean meats
  2. Cruciferous vegetables
  3. Greek yogurt
  4. Nuts
  5. Nut butters

Cut Out Juice, Soda, Sports Drinks, And Limit Alcohol. 

  • Sugary drinks are the single largest source of calories in the American diet and over half of Americans have sugary drinks every day.
  • Definitely the most relevant tip on the list for summer is avoiding any drinks that are high in sugar, calories, artificial sweeteners, and sodium.
  • Sugary drinks can cause enormous insulin spikes which will offset your hormonal balance and can lead to extra fat storage. Likewise, sugary sodas and drinks can stimulate appetite and cause you to overeat even though you may not be hungry.
  • Every liquid calorie is a calorie added to the day’s total.  Liquid calories don’t fill you up or deliver the essential vitamins, nutrients, and fiber you get from whole foods.  Drinking liquid calories doesn’t have a huge impact on what you eat that rest of the day either. Over the last 20 years, Americans have added between 150 and 300 calories to their daily diets — about half of them in liquid form.
  • Alcohol is an entirely different story in itself, but from my perspective, drinking one or two nights a week will not have a dramatic impact on fat loss. Just remember, EVERYTHING IN MODERATION!

Examples of what to drink

  1. Water with lime
  2. Tea
  3. Coffee
  4. Almond Milk
  5. Red wine/clear liquors without a sugary mixer.

Burn Calories Outside Of The Gym.

  • This one can put you over the edge in terms of reaching your body composition goals. Stay active, especially in the summer. Whether it’s a beach volleyball game, throwing the football around, or going for a walk after dinner having an active mentality and lifestyle will ensure your muscles get the work they need and your metabolism and heart rate stay mildly elevated.
  • Dont settle for exercise in the gym alone. Take the stairs, park farther away from the door, and perform activities other than sitting on the couch watching TV.
Examples
  1. Swim
  2. Walk your dog
  3. Go hiking
  4. Join a softball league
  5. Play pick-up basketball

Thanks for reading and hopefully these tips will help you achieve the summer-bod you have been working towards. Let me know if you have any questions or comments. Thanks.

From South Bend,

Kevin