Peanut butter is a popular choice with skinny guys trying to gain weight – but is peanut butter good for muscle building?
Does it live up to the hype, and what can it offer?
We will cover the most important things you need to know about peanut butter for muscle building and where it might not live up to your expectations.
You will learn how to use it to get the most out of your spreads.
Is peanut butter good for muscle building?
Peanut butter is not the best choice for muscle building due to the high concentration of dietary fats, with a low protein and carb content.
This makes peanut butter a common choice for high-calorie intake but not good muscle-building food.
However, combining peanut butter with other foods can be a great choice.
When you combine peanut butter with high-protein and high-carb options – such as in a protein shake – you can significantly gain muscle mass and weight gain.
It’s hard to say that peanut butter is good for muscle building.
It’s not – it requires a lot of other factors to get the most from them.
The calorie content of peanut butter is the only way it can significantly support muscle building, and that’s not exclusive to peanut butter.
Things like avocado, olives, and other nut butter are better for the calories.
The macronutrient profile of peanut butter
Peanut butter reflects the original content of peanuts – but without the fiber.
The typical nutritional value of 100 grams of peanut butter is:
- Calories: ~600
- Carbs: ~22.5g
- Protein: ~22g
- Fats: ~50g
This is a good macronutrient spread but does offer a strong fat showing, despite fats being the most calorie-dense.
While this looks like roughly a 1:1:2 ratio, it’s completely different when you consider that a gram of fats contains around 225% as many calories as a gram of protein or carbohydrates.
This means that around 15% of your calories in peanut butter come from carbs and 15% from protein.
Nut butter is 70% fats by calorie, which is why we don’t think it’s the best muscle-building option.
Peanut butter is great for hard gainers – all that matters is getting lots of calories and offsetting the challenges of a high-calorie diet.
However, for most people, it will be more effective to eat more often to consume more calories and improve nutrient intake with fewer fats and more protein.
The fat content of 100g of peanut butter is around an average man’s daily requirement of fats.
This is why we don’t recommend using peanut butter as a major muscle-building food unless you’re seriously struggling to eat more calories and haven’t got any other options.
Types of Peanut Butter
It’s also important to distinguish between different types of nut butter.
All nut butter is rich in calories due to the calorie-density of fats, which are the main form of nutrient in all of them.
Different nuts offer different benefits. There’s a real difference between ‘natural’ peanut butter and other kinds.
Natural kinds are low in additives, typically just being blended with peanuts and a stabilizing oil.
These are as close to just peanuts as you find, while non-natural nut butter often includes a large quantity of added brown sugar or similar ingredients.
While these make them even more delicious, they’re also lower-quality nutrients.
This skews the natural fats and protein content while increasing total carbs but only the bad carbs.
Sugar content is already moderate in nut butter, and added sugars only make it more of a problem – getting more calories from sugar and fat – and a very small % from protein.
Can you use peanut butter to build muscle?
While peanut butter isn’t good for building muscle and is primarily a hard-gainer food, you can use it to build muscle mass.
It requires smart use, including very small amounts in your diet, and combined with other foods.
For example, perhaps the best way to use peanut butter for muscle building is to increase the calorie content of a homemade mass gainer shake.
Blending a spoonful of peanut butter with whey protein, milk, ice, cocoa, steel-cut oats, and a banana produces a calorie- and nutrient-dense shake.
This is cheaper than buying mass gainer while offering more control and a healthier overall profile.
Peanut butter’s role is the super-calorie-dense option to boost the calorie content of the whole drink.
Just remember that peanut butter isn’t lean enough to be a staple protein source in your diet – and shouldn’t be one of your main muscle-building foods.
It’s fine in small doses and pairs well with snacks like apples and bananas, but it is very high calorie and doesn’t lend itself to the best weight gain quality.
Peanut butter for muscle building – FAQs
Why do bodybuilders eat peanut butter?
Some bodybuilders will use peanut butter as a fat source to improve their total calorie intake – particularly during bulking phases when trying to add more calories to their diet.
Peanut butter is very nutrient-dense while offering a modest amount of protein, making it better than other fat sources.
This makes it a solid choice for very high-calorie dieting – but that’s not what most of us need.
Remember that elite bodybuilders may eat 6,000 calories daily during this bulking phase. The protein content is relatively low (as a % of total calories), and you’ll be getting tons of fats.
The main concern is that this can quickly lead to over-eating and fat gain, or take up space in your diet better spent on other foods.
Is peanut butter good after a workout?
No – peanut butter is not good after a workout. It’s a low-carb, moderate-protein choice that contains enormous amounts of fats.
This makes it too slow-absorbing and too carb- and protein-light to get the best results.
Good post-workout food should be high in protein and carbs and low in fats to improve absorption. This supports better post-workout recovery.
The combined protein and carbs are perfect for muscle building and recovery.
Peanut butter is a slow-digesting and slow-absorbing food that works best in small doses to maintain energy levels throughout the day.
It’s a good choice when you’re far behind on your calorie goal and need to catch up quickly, especially combined with a carb and protein source for better all-round nutrient support.
Are dry roasted peanuts good for muscle building?
Like peanut butter, dry roasted peanuts are a good option for hard gainers but are too high in fat and low in protein to be a great muscle-building choice.
They’re a good option if you desperately need more calories.
But they’re not good for the nutrients – protein and carbs – your muscles need.
Since good peanut butter is just blended peanut butter and oil, the macronutrients are the same for dry roasted peanuts.
They also typically include a lot of salt, which is good for muscle in moderation but typically very high in pre-packaged nuts – so try and get the unsalted kind.
Why is peanut butter unhealthy?
Natural peanut butter is not unhealthy – they’re just high in calories.
This can make them risky if you’re prone to overeating or are using a low-calorie diet.
For most people, the calorie density of peanut butter is unhealthy because it leads them towards fat gain and an imbalance of energy intake and output.
High-sugar peanut butter is unhealthy for the combined effects of sugar and fat, with low protein.
This makes for a bad diet overall and an increased risk of advanced glycation end products, which can harm health.
Natural peanut butter is a healthy choice, with a high monounsaturated fat content.
The problem is that a healthy amount of natural peanut butter is roughly one tablespoon and shouldn’t be over-consumed.
Is peanut butter and jelly good for muscle building?
Peanut butter and jelly – as in PB&J sandwiches – is a high-calorie food that is good for building muscle if you’re struggling to reach your calorie needs.
It’s better to meet your needs with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich than to miss your goals.
However, it’s not a great option due to the relatively weak nutritional profile of a meal made of peanut butter, bread, and jelly.
This produces a lot of carbs and fats (often low quality) and very little protein.
This means that you should usually choose a different choice, but a PB&J can be used (especially before or immediately after a workout) to provide more gross calories to your day.
Is peanut butter toast good for muscle building
Peanut butter toast is a moderately useful option with many calories relative to how easy it is to eat.
This makes it a good choice for building muscle if your main struggle is getting enough total calories into your daily diet.
Peanut butter toast is particularly good if you’re a young (and broke) student or worker, live with your parents and need to eat more.
This is a common problem; peanut butter toast can be a simple answer if you need more calories.
It’s not the best choice, but peanut butter toast can improve your muscle growth if you struggle to eat enough daily.
Is skippy peanut butter good for building muscle?
Skippy is a good – but not perfect – peanut butter for building muscle.
The added sugar of this product might make it delicious, but it’s not a muscle-building food, with more than four times as many calories from fat as from protein (the important one).
The one exception to this is using skippy peanut butter to build muscle in shakes, smoothies, and bakes.
In these multi-ingredient foods, where you can add a ton of other (better) ingredients, it can be a huge calorie boost to a protein shake, smoothie, or baked oatmeal.
Skippy is one of the better peanut butter brands for value (calories per dollar) and has a good nutrient profile.
Is Jif peanut butter good for building muscle?
Jif is worse than skippy for muscle building as protein is lower than carbs in Jif peanut butter.
Skippy had more protein than carbs, but Jif is the other way around and leaves protein in last place despite being the most important nutrient for muscle building.
This does work as an ingredient in other foods where it can increase calorie content massively.
This doesn’t make it good muscle-building food, but it can be a great combination of protein powder, oats, and bananas in a healthy homemade mass gainer shake.
Is a peanut butter sandwich good for muscle building
No – a peanut butter sandwich is not good for muscle building since it primarily adds low-quality carbs and fats to your diet.
It can be a great way to get into a calorie surplus, which helps build muscle, but it does this without the important protein that would make it a muscle-building food.
Peanut butter sandwiches only help you improve your calorie intake.
This is important for building muscle, but it’s only one factor – you also need to ensure your diet includes lots of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
This means peanut butter sandwiches aren’t good for building muscle – but they can be used in a good muscle-building diet as a small addition to improving your daily calorie intake.
Peanut butter is good food for anyone struggling to get enough calories and needing an extra boost – but it’s not a great muscle-building food due to the high fat and low protein content.
It lacks the carb content you’d need for an energy source – and its vitamin and mineral content doesn’t make up for it.
The result is that peanut butter is okay for building muscle when combined with other ingredients.
As with pasta, it’s about what you put peanut butter with, making it good muscle-building food.
It’s not as protein- or carb-dense as we’d like for post-workout food, and it has to be blended with protein (and ideally carbs) to get the best results.
Peanut butter has a place in many diets – especially for skinny guys – but it shouldn’t be a staple.
Eating more often and with more carb-rich foods is better than focusing on peanut butter, as it’s a popular but somewhat misguided choice for maximum muscle gains.