The Best Time Of Day To Eat Peanut Butter For Weight Loss

Weight loss can be challenging. With many different diets out there, each telling you the best foods to eat, what to avoid, and what time to consume them, it can feel like you're trying to pick a needle out of a haystack. 

Snacking, in particular, can get a bad rap regarding weight loss. But some experts think that snacking is a good way to avoid overeating at your main meals and what better way to do it than with peanut butter? In fact, per a 2014 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the highly satiating benefit of peanut butter is best reaped when consumed as a snack during the day. 

More commonly pursued as a breakfast nut spread option, peanut butter is rich in fiber, healthy fats, and protein — which can help you feel full for longer. If you wake up early and have long days where there are more than four hours that go by between your three meals, your blood sugar levels drop and tiredness takes over. This is when you might crave a pick-me-up. Reaching for that jar of peanut butter can ensure you're sticking with a yummy yet healthy treat instead of popping something unhealthy in your mouth. It's an efficient way to maintain your weight loss goals.

Does this mean you should avoid starting your day with peanut butter?

Not necessarily. The answer would depend on your particular weight loss goals and how hungry you get between meals. If snacking is important for you and you think it ensures that you don't overeat at your next meal, perhaps you can choose to have your fill of peanut butter for the day spread out as snacks in the early afternoon and early evening. 

There's even something to be said about eating peanut butter before bed. While you have to watch out for how much you consume (because peanut butter is a high-calorie food), the nutritional profile of peanut butter –  niacin, magnesium, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and vitamins B6 and E — also includes tryptophan, an amino acid linked with better sleep. Furthermore, although not specific to peanut butter, a 2015 study published in the journal Nutrients found that snacking on protein-rich foods before sleep helped with muscle protein synthesis overnight and morning metabolism in men. A 2013 study done on active college-aged men and published in the British Journal of Nutrition had similar results.  

But if you want to take the classic route of keeping peanut butter for breakfast, this is great for weight loss too. Again, the satiating nature of this nut butter is great at keeping you full till lunchtime. Starting the day off strong is important for some people and their weight loss journeys. 

How to consume peanut butter as a snack

To start, the kind of peanut butter you buy matters. Reading the food label would give you a clue as to why. It's important to keep track of saturated fat content, added sugars, and sodium intake when weight loss is your goal (and otherwise) and these can all be concerns with some brands of peanut butter. Go for the kind that has the least amount of additives and contains mostly peanuts. 

As for snack ideas, it's important to not eat too much peanut butter. The recommended daily intake of this nut butter spread is two tablespoons. This may not seem like much when spread out through the day, but when you find other healthy foods to pair it with, things can go from looking bleak to brilliant in a matter of minutes. An apple with a tablespoon of the stuff is one example. Other ideas include a tablespoon full with some Greek yogurt, peanut butter with celery or carrot sticks, or spread on a whole-grain rice cracker. Adding a spoonful to a healthy smoothie is another genius way to enjoy the nutty and rich flavor of this popular food.

The point of snacking is to eat just enough to keep you full till your next meal time so it's important to keep portion control in mind. As for more ideas on what you can combine with peanut butter, there are a lot more healthy options out there.