I’ve heard a lot of different thoughts concerning peanut butter and its nutritional value from other fitness experts, clients, and friends. Statements such as:

–        “Peanut butter is really high in protein!”

–        “Peanut butter is full of sugar…”


–        “Peanut butter is natural and a healthy snack.”

–        “Peanut butter is a good source of protein…”

–        “Peanut butter will make you FAT.”

However, most of these statements are just not true, or only partially true! So, let’s discuss what peanut butter actually is and whether it really will make you fat, When it comes to knowing what peanut butter is, can you give me a good definition?

Peanut butter’s big secret

What is peanut butter? A smooth, creamy [or sometimes crunchy!] substance made from grinding peanuts up. Right? Well, not really. In fact, did you know that peanuts aren’t actually nuts like you probably thought? I know, right. Not a nut. After all this time you were led to believe that a peanut was from the nut family.

Peanuts are not nuts, but rather legumes and belong to the same line of family as: peas, beans, and lentils. However, because of their nutritional profile they are often grouped into the same category of other nuts, like: cashews, walnuts, and almonds.

Now that you know a little background on the peanut, what is it and how exactly is it made? Peanut butter is a paste made by grinding roasted, skinned, and degermed peanuts[1] according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Then, other ingredients are added, such as: sugar, palm oil and salt- which help to prolong shelf-life in the grocery stores and give it a sweet/salty taste that we all adore.

However, more often than not, we are bombarded with different types of peanut butters which make it hard to distinguish which ones are actually “healthy”-(ier) choices for us. The purest form of peanut butter only contains ground peanuts and small traces of salt. This style of peanut butter will definitely differ from the popular brands like Skippy and Jif.

Most often, these popular brands contain something called “fillers”, which prevents separation and/or makes the peanut butter taste even sweeter.

Does peanut butter make you fat_2

Now, the several different kinds that you’ll see at the store include the following:

  1. “Natural” peanut butters

    1. When looking at these, view the ingredients list to see if it includes added oils and/or sugars because more often than not, even these so-called “natural” peanut butters will. For example, when looking at the Jif Naturals peanut butter you’ll see that it includes not only peanuts but also sugar, palm oil, salt and molasses. It’s not “natural” after all! Obviously this may be a better option than traditional store-brand peanut butters, but if you’re really looking for a natural peanut butter it’s not ideal.
  2. “Regular” peanut butters

    1. With these, we’re talking about those brands like Jif and Skippy. Jif Creamy peanut butter contains ingredients: peanuts, sugar, molasses, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean), fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (grapeseed and soybean), mono-and diglyceridesand salt. When looking at these ingredients, be careful to recognise that partially hydrogenated oils are another name for something we call Tran saturated fat (trans fat) – which has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This is where being able to read food labels and distinguish the real truths will help you in your nutrition, as most food companies are very deceptive and sneaky in their lingo and how they relate nutritional information to the general public!
  3. “Reduced-fat” peanut butters

    1. When it comes to these kinds of peanut butter, I would say: STAY AWAY. Why? Because where does taste come from? FAT! And if there is a reduction in fat, what is there a surplus in? SUGAR! This means that although there may be a lesser amount of fat, you’re just substituting it for an increase in sugar. Plus, there’s no significant decrease in calories, so in my opinion: just stay away.

Does peanut butter make You fat?

Now that you have a decent background on the kinds of peanut butter, let’s talk about what you really want to know. Let’s take a look at the nutritional info first before I answer this question.

Two tablespoons of peanut butter = (roughly) between:

–         170-200 calories,

–        around 16 grams of fat,

–        6-8 grams of carbs, and

–        about 6-8 grams of protein.

Most of the fat comes from monounsaturated fat, which has been shown to decrease the risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk factors. Yes, there is something called saturated fat in peanut butter but studies have shown that moderate amounts of this–in context with a healthy and active lifestyle–are not be detrimental to health, but rather beneficial (for most people).

Would I say that peanut butter is a good source of protein? No, I absolutely wouldn’t. The reason why is because although it is a complete protein (meaning it contains all the essential amino acids), there is twice as much fat in comparison to protein. Plus, it’s very calorie-dense, meaning that most of us greatly underestimate exactly how much 2 tablespoons is. Portion it out people!

So, will peanut butter make you fat? If you end up eating the whole jar, than yes, obviously it will make you fat. If you take the extra 3 seconds to portion it out (rather than sticking your spoon into it and popping it straight into your mouth) then no, it will not make you fat.

All in all, peanut butter contains high amounts of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals–along with a small amount of protein. When used in moderation, can definitely add health benefits to any diet. Just be sure it fits into your nutritional plan and you won’t be seeing added bodily fat from peanut butter!


[1] Merriam-Webster dictionary

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