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Can Peanut Butter Really Help You Lose Weight?

The beloved nut spread is a powerful dieting tool if used properly.

Let's count the ways to enjoy this favorite nut butter spread—smothered over apples, in peanut butter cookies, in oatmeal, blended into a smoothie, and in the favorite PB&J sandwich. According to the National Peanut Board, a 2016 survey by Peter Pan Simply Ground Peanut Butter found that the average person will eat almost 3,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in their lifetime. If you're trying to lose weight, however, can peanut butter be part of your weight loss plan? Here's a look at some nutty, buttery facts.

Nutrition Lowdown

Two tablespoons of crunchy or smooth peanut butter has about 180 to 200 calories, 8 grams of protein, and 16 grams of fat. The type of fat found in peanut butter is mainly unsaturated, which is the type that is good for your heart. Some varieties of peanut butter have more artery-clogging saturated fat than others though, so do check the label. Or simply use our list of best and worst peanut butters of all time.

Peanut butter is also an excellent source of niacin and manganese and a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, magnesium, and phosphorus. It also provides the phytonutrient resveratrol, the same you'll find in red wine, which acts as an antioxidant.

What About Weight Loss?

Will eating peanut butter automatically lead to shedding those extra pounds? No. However, peanut butter is certainly a nutrient-packed food and can be part of a healthy weight loss plan. It's also a protein-packed plant-based food. If you're trying to add more plant-based foods to your diet, peanut butter is certainly a good choice with 8 grams of protein per two tablespoon serving.

But don't forget that it also provides a hefty dose of calories, especially if you're eating it by the spoonful right out of the jar. Doing that can certainly sabotage any weight loss efforts. Reduced fat peanut butter may seem like a better option for weight loss, but it tends to contain more sugar than the full fat variety and as such the calories aren't significantly different.

To reap the nutritional benefits of peanut butter when trying to lose weight, portion size is key. For snacks opt for 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. This means one flat tablespoon (not a heaping tablespoon). Do take the time to measure it out. For meals, aim for two tablespoons. Or check out our peanut butter weight loss recipes and never go wrong with your favorite spread.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN
Toby Amidor is an award winning dietitian and Wall Street Journal best-selling cookbook author who believes healthy and wholesome can also be appetizing and delicious. Read more about Toby