Running Fuel: Peanut/Nut Butter

31 Oct

“When it comes to the food choices runners can make, you can’t do much better than peanut butter.” – Nancy Clark, author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook

I have a serious addiction to peanut butter. Looking back, I think I have eaten peanut butter (at least a spoonful) in one way or another every single day over the last several years. Well, let me back track…I love not only peanut butter, but just about any type of nut butter.

Not only is peanut butter tasty, but it is one of the satisfying foods a runner can add to his/her diet. For example, a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter on it will make you feel fuller than a plain piece of white toast. This fullness lasts much longer than if you had consumed simple carbohydrates alone (like pretzels, bananas, etc.). Simple carbohydrates spike your insulin levels for energy, but can quickly drop off half-way through your workout. Peanut butter and other nut butters provide a slower, more even release of energy. Extra protein is most beneficial for runners seeking to repair muscle damage caused by intense training. In addition, protein and fiber in peanut butter pack quite a punch and fuel you better without adding lots of “bad” fat. The type of fat in peanut butter is called unsaturated fat. It can help lower cholesterol and, in general, make the heart function better…also great for runners!

The first step in adding peanut butter to your diet is to find the right type of peanut butter. Be sure and find the most natural or low-sugar kind that you can, with the fewest ingredients. Often, very natural nut butters will separate in the jar a bit, with oil forming on top. This is okay and should not scare you off. This just means the nut butter you are eating does not contain anything funky like partially hydrogenated vegetable oil as a binder. (This is good.) You might have to stir it up a bit before eating it, but the health benefits of fewer ingredients are worth the 5 seconds you spend stirring it up.

Here are some of my favorite choices for peanut/nut butters:

Usually, I just grab a spoon and scoop out a spoonful for a little extra energy or before heading out for a run. The individual packets are extremely handy for snacking on-the-go and are not messy at all. I can typically find all of these brands at my local Whole Foods, Super Target or Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.

When incorporating peanut butter into a snack or a meal, I like to get creative and try and add in some other ingredients for extra carbohydrates and vitamins. Here are some of my favorite concoctions.


Peanut Butter + Honey + Banana + English Muffin = Breakfast of Champions!
I start out by toasting the English muffin. Once it gets warm and toasty, the peanut butter spreads on really easily. This usually lets me use less peanut butter (saving a few calories) with still getting the same flavor. Drizzle a little honey and then topped with little sliced rounds of banana.



Peanut Butter + Honey + Red Delicious Apple + Whole Wheat Bread = Best Sandwich EVER.
I never thought this would be a yummy sandwich until I actually ordered it at a vegetarian restaurant several years ago. It was so delicious and I was determined to make it at home, though healthier with lower sugar peanut butter and much less honey than they had used. The key here is slicing the apples thin and putting a little peanut butter on both pieces of the bread so that everything sticks together. I’m not a huge fan of tart apples, but I have been told it is delicious with those as well.


Peanut Butter + Strawberry or Grape Jam or Jelly + Reduced Fat Plain Graham Crackers = Unconventional Chilled Treat.
I first had this yummy delight while walking the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. You basically make a PB&J but with graham crackers instead of bread. The kicker here is to then wrap them in wax paper or saran wrap and stick them in the refrigerator or freezer for a little while to get it good and chilled. It is delicious, especially when the graham cracker starts getting a little soft from the moisture in the peanut butter and jelly. It is pretty important that you chill these to make the PB&J mixture firm. If you eat it right away, it will just squish out the sides. Just trust me on this one and try it!

Andre the Giant!

NEW PRODUCT ALERT!!Did you know that Gu Energy is now making a peanut butter flavor energy gel? Yes! I have not been able to find it yet, but I can assure you that all hell might break loose when I get my hands on them! Must. Find. Them.

Are YOU a peanut butter fanatic like me? How do you eat your peanut butter? What are YOUR favorite brands and flavors?

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16 Responses to “Running Fuel: Peanut/Nut Butter”

  1. Jim Brandt October 31, 2011 at 11:33 AM #

    Great post! I will give peanut butter another chance. I thought it was full of fat and to be avoided at all costs. Thanks for the info.

  2. Kelli the FumbyGirl (@fumby_girl) October 31, 2011 at 12:24 PM #

    I have been freebasing peanut butter lately. Can’t seem to get enough of it.

  3. Beth @ RUNNINGaroundmykitchen.com October 31, 2011 at 3:23 PM #

    I LOVE peanut butter and I grew up eating PB and banana sandwiches and still make them myself…but I LOVE the idea of adding honey to it! Too bad I already had lunch today, tomorrow for sure 🙂

  4. Sarah Lynton (@sarahlynton) October 31, 2011 at 3:30 PM #

    I am most definitely a PB/nut butter addict. Generally buy 365 brand crunchy or Teddy PB. Also love SunButter. Dark Chocolate Dreams. Cashew butter (I buy it in bulk at WF and stir in a little almond extract, salt, and a small squirt of agave… a-mazing). I read once that the average American eats something like 3lbs of PB a year… I calculated that I eat more like 25lbs+ a year. Yikes! What can I say?! Love it! Fuels this runner. 🙂

  5. Tiffany October 31, 2011 at 6:38 PM #

    Any peanut butter alternative recommendations? I’m allergic.

    • Sarah Lynton (@sarahlynton) November 1, 2011 at 3:08 PM #

      Try SunButter (sunflower butter) or Barney Butter (completely peanut free almond butter)!

      • Tiffany November 1, 2011 at 5:29 PM #

        Thank you! I’ve noted the SunButter.

  6. wardhanaaditya October 31, 2011 at 8:06 PM #

    thank you.. thx for sharing

  7. Jina November 1, 2011 at 8:12 AM #

    Yum! I love your peanut butter ideas! I want to try the apple sandwich. I’m a fan of Skippy Natural.

  8. Ashley November 1, 2011 at 5:55 PM #

    Omg. PB flavored gu? I’m all over that. Need to order NOW!

  9. David H. November 1, 2011 at 8:12 PM #

    Great post. It’s unfortunate that peanut butter prices are going way up this winter.

  10. Julie (A Case of the Runs) November 2, 2011 at 5:19 PM #

    Hmm, wonder if that GU is palatable. Couldn’t imagine PB flavors while running, but it’s worth a try!

  11. Corrina @ Mama Needs To Run November 3, 2011 at 12:06 AM #

    I LOVE peanut butter too. I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch just about everyday until I was in high school. And I still have that for lunch at least a few times a week. One of my guilty pleasures is a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich on sourdough. Put a little butter on the outside of the bread and grill it like a grilled cheese. Oh it’s SO yummy.

    • katieRUNSthis November 3, 2011 at 8:49 AM #

      Oooooh! I have never thought about warming it up like grilled cheese! I will definitely have to try that! Great idea!

  12. trailrunningchick November 4, 2011 at 8:36 AM #

    I am not a Peanut Butter person. I’ll eat it and cook with it, but my preference goes to almond butter. I do love it as a snack, sometimes I just spread a little almond butter straight on some crisp apples.
    I love almond butter+honey+banana on bread.

    Before a race, my favorite thing to eat is actually half a banana and almond butter on half of a bagel.

  13. Tuka Jani July 3, 2012 at 5:06 PM #

    I’m curious to find out what blog platform you are utilizing? I’m experiencing some small security issues with my latest blog and I would like to find something more risk-free. Do you have any recommendations?

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