Beyond their nutritional effects, when eaten in small amounts daily, peanuts and peanut butter can help you feel fuller, longer. They control your hunger and reduce your desire to eat, promoting weight loss and maintenance.
Research shows that peanuts have an enjoyable flavor and people do not get tired of eating them, even after 8-weeks of replacing all fat in the diet with peanuts.5
The healthy oils in peanuts provide taste and the protein provides satiety so people don’t feel deprived.7 Three times as many people stuck with a “good” fat weight loss diet that included peanuts and peanut butter in a Mediterranean-style diet vs. a low-fat diet.
Fiber Makes You Fuller
Foods high in protein and fiber, such as peanuts and peanut butter, have been shown to help reduce appetite and promote satisfaction after eating them. Peanuts contain close to 8 grams of protein per ounce, which is more than any other nut, and comparable to a serving of beans. They also contain about 2.5 grams of fiber per ounce. Fiber makes us feel fuller and more satisfied after eating.
Fiber adds bulk to food by absorbing water in the stomach and expanding to make us fuller. In addition, fiber plays an important role in helping to maintain blood sugar. Although fiber is a carbohydrate, it is not absorbed by the body and does not raise blood sugar.
Add Peanuts to Any Meal, Even Snacks!
Peanuts and peanut butter are the perfect snack to ward off hunger later in the day. Research shows that people had improved feelings of fullness and better satisfaction from eating peanuts and peanut butter than other high carbohydrate snacks, such as rice cakes.3
Results showed an increase in the hormone Peptide YY, which promotes fullness and satiety. In addition, participants reported a lower desire to eat at lunch when peanuts or peanut butter were consumed earlier in the day and decreased appetite for most of the day. Peanuts and peanut butter are a low glycemic index food due to their high amounts of healthy oils, fiber, and protein that help sugar to be released into the bloodstream more slowly, keeping energy levels high and appetite in check.2 The researchers suggest that it is the synergy of components in peanuts, including the high protein and fiber content that contribute to its unique effects on appetite control.
The study done by researchers at Purdue also showed that consuming peanut butter or peanuts for breakfast can control blood sugar throughout most of the day, even after eating a high carbohydrate lunch. Peanuts and peanut butter have been known to help control blood sugar alone or when paired with high carbohydrate foods due to their high content of protein, fiber, and healthy oils, but what is extraordinary is their ability to have a positive effect on blood sugar in later meals even in the absence of peanuts or peanut butter. This phenomenon is known as “the second meal effect”.1
Reduce Hunger, Reduce Weight
Peanuts elicit strong dietary compensation by reducing the desire to eat and research shows people naturally compensate for up to 3/4 of the calories consumed from peanuts by consuming fewer calories throughout the day.15
Another study found that peanuts could also provide a sensation of fullness in overweight or obese men, noting that peanuts may also aid diets to reduce body weight.
In addition, research shows that those who eat peanuts naturally compensate for up to three-fourths of calories consumed from the peanuts, because they don’t later add additional calories to their daily diets
One study found that peanut butter and peanuts can help decrease appetite throughout most of the day. In the study, including peanut butter or peanuts with breakfast increased secretion of a hormone called peptide YY, which promotes fullness and satiety. In addition, participants reported a decreased desire to eat for 8 to 12 hours later.
Participants in even another study spontaneously remarked that they felt full when they included peanuts and peanut butter in their daily diets (6). The fifteen participants in this study were provided with a test portion of 500 calories of peanuts a day, or about three ounces.
Each participant took part in all three of the following study phases:
- a “free-feeding” phase in which participants were given peanuts without dietary guidance (8 weeks);
- an “addition” phase in which participants were asked to add peanuts to their usual diet (3 weeks); and
- a “substitution” phase during which 500 calories of peanuts replaced an equal amount of calories from other fats in the diet (8 weeks).
As expected, participants did not gain weight during the substitution period, as their calorie intake remained similar to their usual intake. In the free-feeding and additional phases, the researchers expected the participants to gain weight, given the additional calories consumed (500 extra calories per day from peanuts). However, the participants gained substantially less weight than was expected. The participants appeared to compensate for the extra calories by eating fewer calories from other food sources (6).
Thus, when peanuts and peanut butter are consumed, it appears a “spontaneous substitution effect” may occur. That is, people may reduce caloric intake from other food sources throughout the day. Because small portions of peanuts provide eating satisfaction, they help dieters balance caloric intake.
Peanuts Prevent Sugar Crashes
Glycemic index is a point scale used to compare how high your blood sugar and insulin spike after eating the same amount of carbohydrates from different foods. Foods that are digested more slowly and release sugar gradually into the bloodstream have a lower GI. Peanuts and peanut butter are considered a low GI food.
Higher GI foods can cause blood sugar and insulin to spike soon after eating, followed by a drop in blood sugar to levels lower than before consumption.17 This crash in blood sugar can make a person feel tired and hungry for more food, and the roller coaster cycle of highs and lows can contribute to the development of pre-diabetes and diabetes.2
Peanuts help keep blood sugar more even and prevent crashing, keeping energy levels and appetite in check.2 In one study, participants who had either the vinegar or peanuts/peanut butter ate slightly less throughout the remainder of the day.9 Peanuts’ low carbohydrate content and ability to stabilize blood sugar can reduce hunger and may account for the reduced eating observed in the study.
Whether you’re young or old, thin or heavy, eating peanuts or peanut butter each day can help fend off hunger and is one of the best ways to control your appetite.
Last reviewed: Feb 2022