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Peanut Butter Benefits for Athletes

By Rick Rockwell

When it comes to favorite health foods, peanut butter ranks quite low on many lists because of the perception that it is fatty or too high in calories. The truth is that in terms of our diets, especially those of athletes, peanut butter is nearly a perfect food. It’s tasty, nutritious, full of good fats and protein and is relatively inexpensive.

Fullness

Peanut butter is high in calories and fat; however, it also leaves your body feeling satiated. Peanut butter is full of fiber and protein, a combination which means that the food fills up your stomach, does not cause a crash in your blood glucose level, and doesn't race through your digestive system. This holds back hunger pangs and a desire to eat more. Add peanut butter to a whole wheat bagel to keep your appetite satisfied.

Healthy Fat

Peanut butter is high in mono- and poly-unsaturated fats and oils. These types of fats are actually good for you. These fats will not cause weight gain if they are eaten in moderation. Avoid trans fats and excessive amounts of saturated fats. Choose natural peanut butters without added soybean or canola oils, sugar or salt.

Affordable Alternative

Serious athletes need to consume extra calories and protein each day or they risk losing muscle density. Elite or endurance athletes who are training need up to 3,000 calories or more a day. Peanut butter is a very affordable way to get extra calories compared to expensive protein bars and shakes. Freshly ground peanut butter may be purchased from health food stores, or the more traditional “just peanuts” peanut butter may be purchased from a local grocery store.

Protein

Peanut butter has the necessary protein needed to keep muscles strong and free from injury. When included in the diet of serious athletes, peanut butter can provide a tasty snack full of protein. One tablespoon of peanut butter contains about seven grams of protein. Eat a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread and accompany it with a glass of milk for a tasty and healthy way to increase the protein in your diet.

Essential Vitamins

Peanut butter contains many of the vitamins and minerals needed to keep athletes active. Peanut butter contains folate, magnesium, vitamin E and zinc. These nutrients help maintain and heal the immune system, reduce the risk of heart disease and reduce the risk of adult-onset diabetes.

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