Athlete’s Guide to Nut Butter
Do you know an athlete that does not regularly consume nut butter? I don’t. Outside of a nut allergy, nut butters are a mainstay of the athlete diet. It might be tasty and easy… but is this really an ingredient you should really be relying?
Nut Butter Basics
There are many nut butters out there. Which should you eat?
· Look for a nut butter that has minimal ingredients.
- All you need is the nut, anything more than that is unnecessary.
- It is best to grind your own!
- Added salt might benefit the athlete!
- Added sugar (look in the form of pure honey) might benefit the athlete.
- Make sure to avoid nut butters with added preservatives and hydrogenated oils.
· There are better butters than peanut.
- Peanut may be your cheapest, but its also lower quality.
- Almond butter has more vitamin E and might benefit muscle recovery more.
- Walnut butter has a healthier fat profile.
- If you have a nut allergy, try sun butter or tahini.
Should you eat nut butter at all?
If you’re trying to loose weight…
- Nut butter is a calorie dense food.
- 2 tbsp = roughly 200 calories.
- Aim for only 2 tbsp/ day.
- Do not ‘snack’ on this ingredient, add it to balanced meals.
If you’re trying to gain weight...
- Nut butter is an easy way to add calories.
- Try adding 1-2 tbsp to meals or snacks throughout the day.
- Consider it a fat.
- There are much better protein options.
- There are much better carbohydrate options.
- Make sure you are eating a variety of food, not just excessive amounts of nut butters.
- Be aware of what 2 tbsp looks like as portions add up quickly here.
- Avoid flavored nut butters like 'cinnamon sugar peanut butter' or 'nutella' as these are just loaded with added sugars.
- Avoid processed foods with nut butter. Again, go for the minimal ingredient nut butter or grind your own (or go to a store like Whole Foods and use their grinder). But peanut butter ice cream, peanut butter chocolates, cookies, candies, etc… will just add the wrong type of calories to your day.
- Avoid PB2 and PB2 knockoffs. Products like this simply promote being addicted to the flavor of peanut butter. Always go for the real product, not a ‘diet’ food version.
When to Eat Nut Butter as an Athlete
- To boost the nutrition of quick, simple meals. (
- To add fat as a satiety factor.
- After workouts to recovery food in order to get in more calories in a quick way.
- Before and during ultra endurance exercise to maintain satiety.
- Before and during endurance exercise, if the nut butter has honey, to increase the carbohydrates and energy. Especially for athletes that have a difficult time consuming too many simple carbohydrates.
My Favorite Uses/Recipes.
One of my favorite ways to eat nut butter - almond butter with avocado and bee pollen on a GF bagel.
- Almond butter on sprouted toast with sliced avocado.
- Peanut butter, jelly and banana ‘burrito’. Also makes a great ride snack!
- Walnut butter, peaches, banana and coconut milk in a smoothie.
- Peanut butter whisked with vinegar, sesame oil, chili, ginger, and garlic for a spicy sauce to go over rice, noodles or your protein.
- Any nut butter mixed into whole grains, dried fruit, seeds, etc… to make a pressed, no bake bar.