Is peanut butter a good source of protein?

Peanut butter is one of the simplest foods to make. All it involves is grinding peanuts until they turn into a smooth paste. This is peanut butter in its most natural and healthiest form. However in most cases other ingredients such as salt, sugar and oils are added to give it a better taste and consistency.

Provided you are not already allergic to peanuts, eating a high quality peanut butter in moderation can be healthy. You can read more about that here.

Does peanut butter have protein?

Two tablespoons (32g) of peanut butter has:

Calories 188
Fat 16g (3.3g saturated)
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 5mg
Carbohydrate 6g
Fiber 1.9g
Sugar 3g
Protein 8g

As you can see, protein makes up 25% of peanut butter, so yes peanut butter does have a relatively high protein content and is a good source. Even though peanuts have “nut” in their name, they are not a nut, but rather a legume. And similar to other legumes like lentils and peas, peanuts are high in protein.

However they also share similar characteristics to nuts like almonds, cashews and walnuts in that they are high in fat. From the table above you will notice that peanut butter is around 50% fat, and fat contains more than double the amount of calories that protein does, when compared by weight. It is for this reason that it is recommended that you consume peanut butter in moderation, unless you are on a high calorie diet.

If you are trying to build muscle, peanut butter will help you reach your protein consumption goals. However it should not be your main source of protein. For example if you are trying to stay lean but need to consume 100 g or more of protein per day, you would need to eat upwards of 25 tablespoons of peanut butter.

Unless you really love peanut butter, this is highly unlikely. And even if you did, you would consume way too much fat. So rather than being used as a main source of protein, peanut butter should be eaten as part of a diet that contains lean meat, eggs, protein rich vegetables, whey and grains.

Is peanut butter a complete protein?

Proteins are made up of organic compounds known as amino acids. There are nine amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own – histidine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine and lysine. These are known as the essential amino acids and need to be obtained from the diet. Foods that contain all 9 amino acids are called complete protein sources and include fish, meat and eggs.

Vegetarian protein sources tend to be incomplete proteins and peanuts are no exception. They lack the amino acid methionine. However the good news is that you can combine two or more sources of incomplete proteins to make a complete protein. Grains contain high levels of methionine but lack lysine, which peanut butter is rich in. So making a sandwich from whole wheat bread and peanut butter gives you a complete protein.

If you eat meat, fish or other animal products you don’t need to worry about protein deficiencies. However vegetarians should make it a point to consume a variety of different plant based foods that are high in protein in order to obtain adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids.

What about other butters?

Peanut butter is not the only protein rich butter out there, there are other ones such as almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter and hazelnut butter.

Almonds are considered to be one of the most nutritious nuts and almond butter is as simple to make as peanut butter – all you have to do is add them to a food processor and hit process until a smooth consistency is obtained. For every 100 g, almonds contain 21 g of protein, 49 g of fat and 22 g of carbohydrate. Therefore they contain slightly less protein than peanuts. However they make up for this by having more vitamin E, calcium and magnesium.

Cashew nuts are also very healthy. They are rich in antioxidants, improve bone health, help prevent gallstones and keep your heart healthy. 100 g of cashew nuts contain 18 g of protein, 44 g of fat and 30 g of carbohydrate, giving it a nutritional profile similar to that of almonds.

And sunflower seeds…I am guessing that the last thing you would have imagined is a butter made out of sunflower seeds right? I know I did. Well it exists, is delicious and is also very easy to make in the comfort of your own home. Sunflower seeds are excellent sources of vitamin E, vitamin B1 and vitamin B3 which is why they have a spot saved in our healthy food finder tool. 100 g of sunflower seeds contain 21 g of protein, 51 g of fat and 20 g of carbohydrate.

The great thing about these nut butters is that they are very versatile in the way in which they can be consumed. For example check out this smoothie recipe that contains almond butter and this smoothie bowl recipe that contains peanut butter.

Conclusion

Roughly 25% of the peanut butter that you eat is made up of protein. The rest is 50% fat and 20% carbohydrate. For this reason, it wouldn’t be considered the best source of protein. There are better food choices out there that contain much more protein and less fat per 100 g serving. That being said, peanut butter can be added to your diet to give it a quick and easy protein boost.