Is peanut butter a good snack?
I get asked ALL the time if a particular food is a good snack or not. Here I give you an ‘easy’ three step procedure to decide. If I only had a dollar for each time I got asked …
No nutritional question can be answered in isolation!
Very, very few foods can your universally put the label of “good snack” on for everyone because it depends on weight, activity level and fitness goals. Peanut butter makes a great snack for olympic swimmer Michael Phelps who swims 10 hours a day but a very poor snack for someone who is overweight and is trying to get leaner and gain muscle at the same time. To answer if any given food is a good ‘snack’ or not, you need to follow this three step procedure.
- Based on you fitness goals and metabolic rate come up with your daily calorie, protein, carbohydrate, and fat needs using my free and easy to use calorie calculator.
- The protein should be divided into 6 equal portions and consumed at even intervals during the whole day, every 2.5 to 3hrs.
- The fat and carbohydrates can be distributed to fit your needs. Most people find that consuming their carbs early in the day rather than at the end of the day is a good idea. Most people also find that the earlier meals in the day need to be larger because this is when your body needs the energy. The meal before bedtime is usually quite small because you don’t need that much energy for sleeping
If you want to know if a given food is a good snack or not, you are going to have to tally the calories, protein, carbs, and fat of every single food you eat during the day. If your “snack” fits into this plan without busting your daily budget of calories, fat, carbs, or protein – then its a good snack. So, back to your original question. Is peanut butter a good snack? You have two options here, you can pay a nutritionist $800-$1000 to make you a personalized nutritional plan and tell you the answer, or, you can figure it out yourself using the free information on my website and a free software like “Lose It“.
Lets me show how you can do this for yourself. Lets say the following person wants 1/4 cup peanut butter for a snack, is it a good snack or not? Here are this persons stats:
- 18 year old
- 180 lbs
- 25% bodyfat
- exercise 3-5hrs a week
- goal – lose fat slowly while gaining muscle
Figure their caloric needs using my calorie calculator. Here is what we find they need:
- 2653 calories a day, average 442 calories in each of the 6 meals
- 26g protein, 6 times a day
- 360g carbohydrate during the day, average 60g per meal
- 54g fat during the day, average 9g per meal
OK, now to know if peanut butter is a “good snack” we look its nutritional data up here. First we need to know that there are 16 tablespoons in a cup so their are 4 tablespoons in a quarter cup, gotta love Imperial units!!! We set the serving size to 2 tablespoons on the website and then double the values to get the nutritional data of our snack:
- 188 * 2 servings = 376 calories
- 8g protein * 2 servings = 16g protein
- 16g fat * 2 servings = 32g fat
So now, is this a good snack or not? Well first I see that this one “snack” contains almost our entire daily allotment of fat. If we have this, everything else we eat during the day is going to have to be virtually nonfat. Second I see that it has a lot of calories, about what a meal should have – its hardly a “snack”. Not only that but it only has 16g protein and even one of our normal 442 calorie meals needs to have 26g protein. So is peanut butter a good snack for this person? No! Its horrible!
Building a great physique takes lots of work, not just in the gym but in the kitchen as well. The kitchen work isn’t just chopping and cutting either, it involves a lot of meal planning as I have illustrated here. If learning about nutrition and doing your meal planning is too time consuming for you, then you have two options: either hire a nutritionist to do it for you or you will have to realize that you will probably never achieve your fitness goals unless they are very, very modest.
Getting in shape is as much about using the brain as using the brawn!
There are very few snacks I can universally recommend, virtually all require following the above procedure to see if they fit into your nutritional plan. For two simple cases, there are a few snacks I can recommend:
|Good snacks for those losing fat||Good snacks for lean people gaining muscle|
|carrot sticks||nonfat yougurt|
|celery sticks||home made protein shake|
|air-popped popcorn, no oil||any recipe in this book|
You will notice that I don’t have any snacks listed for those wanting to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. The reason is that to accomplish this requires, very ,very tight control over your nutrition. For this goal, there is no snack I can recommend that would work for everyone. You need to closely look at your nutritional plan and decide what doesn’t blow your daily allotments of fat, carbs, and calories. I can tell you that to gain muscle and lose weight at the same time, you will find virtually nothing pre-made on the shelves of your local supermarket that is acceptable – you will need to make your own snacks. Here is an excellent bodybuilders cookbook for finding acceptable recipies for losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time.