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Why Peanuts Are a Good Fit for Athletes

This superfood isn’t just for super athletes. Fitness lovers of all levels love peanuts in all its forms—from snack nuts to peanut butter to peanut powder. 

That’s because in just one ounce of peanuts (or two tablespoons of peanut butter or peanut powder) per day, you can get all the benefits of hard-to-get nutrients, healthy fats, and plant-based protein. Add to that they’re inexpensive and have a long shelf life, and it’s easy to see why many consider them the ideal workout fuel.

But what does that mean for you? Let’s dig into the research and find out.


Peanuts can energize your workout.

When exercising, it’s important to give your body the right fuel. One way is by giving your body fats that it can turn into energy. Peanuts contain “good” fats, which is part of why they’re referred to as an “energy-dense” food.1 But if hearing “fat” scares you, don’t worry. At least 50% of that fat comes from the heart-healthy, monounsaturated kind. (Want to learn more about healthy fats? Check out our blog on the topic!) 

Peanuts help you recover.

Another way peanuts can help your workout plan is with protein. And, at 7g per ounce, they contain more of it than any other nut.2 Getting plenty of protein in your diet is essential for acquiring the types of amino acids that help your muscles grow, recover, and stay healthy.One study found that “peri-exercise protein” (that is, protein eaten before, during or after a workout) plays a potentially useful role in optimizing physical performance and positively influencing your recovery process.4

So, if you want to really plus-up your post-workout, consider a snack of peanut butter on whole grain toast, along with a peanut powder-powered smoothie, which all contain amino acids that can assist in muscle repair.

If you’re weighing your options, peanut butter contains around 8g per two tablespoons2, while peanut powder contains about 40-50% protein.

Peanuts help you manage your weight.

If your workout goal includes weight loss, peanuts have even more to offer. In fact, in a meta-analysis study, it was found that nut intake may be associated with a decreased risk of obesity and lower body weight measures.4

One reason why could be that they help you feel fuller, longer. Researchers at Purdue University reported participants had improved feelings of satisfaction after eating peanuts and peanut butter compared to other high-carb snacks.5 Peanut butter has also been shown to help reduce the kind of spikes in blood sugar that can lead to “crashes,” and pick-me-up snacking. A 2018 study found that when people included peanut butter with meals that had high glycemic indexes (which might normally lead to a crash), they experienced lower blood sugar spikes later.6

So, are peanuts good for athletes?

The short answer? Absolutely. With peanuts, peanut butter and peanut powder, you can know you’re getting a heaping helping of benefits that can superpower your workout from beginning to end—and then some!

  1. Arya SS, Salve AR, Chauhan S.Peanuts as functional food: a review.J Food Sci Technol. 2016 Jan;53(1):31-41. doi: 10.1007/s13197-015-2007-9. Epub 2015 Sep 19. Review. PubMed PMID: 26787930; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4711439. 
  2. USDA National Nutrient Database.
  3. Kreider RB, Campbell B.Protein for exercise and recovery.Phys Sportsmed. 2009 Jun;37(2):13-21. doi: 10.3810/psm.2009.06.1705. Review. PubMed PMID: 20048505.
  4. Cintineo HP, Arent MA, Antonio J, Arent SM. Effects of Protein Supplementation on Performance and Recovery in Resistance and Endurance Training. Front Nutr. 2018;5:83. Published 2018 Sep 11. doi:10.3389/fnut.2018.00083
  5. Li H, Li X, Yuan S, Jin Y, Lu J. Nut consumption and risk of metabolic syndrome and overweight/obesity: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies and randomized trials. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2018;15:46. Published 2018 Jun 22. doi:10.1186/s12986-018-0282-y
  6. Kirkmeyer SV, Mattes RD. Effects of food attributes on hunger and food intake. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000;24(9):1167–1175. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0801360.
  7. Lesley N. Lilly, Cynthia J. Heiss, Sofia F. Maragoudakis, Kelli L. Braden & Scott E. Smith (2018) The Effect of Added Peanut Butter on the Glycemic Response to a High–Glycemic Index Meal: A Pilot Study, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, DOI:10.1080/07315724.2018.1519404