is peanut butter keto
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Is Peanut Butter Keto? The Best and Worst Brands

Written by Nathan Phelps on May 12, 2021


Peanut butter is one of the tastiest, most popular spreads in America. 

Whether you take a spoonful straight out of the jar as a midnight snack or mix it in with your protein shake, peanut butter is good with pretty much everything.

And with keto now established as a staple diet, people worldwide are looking for low-carb snacks to complement their lifestyle and stay under their daily carb limit.

So is peanut butter the ultimate low-carb keto snack? Does it have a place in your ketogenic diet plan?

Generally, yes. Peanut butter is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb food. But, as you're about to find out, not all brands of peanut butter are equal — some commercial brands contain unhealthy ingredients and added sugars, which can spike the net carb amount.

In this article, we'll be covering:

  • What is peanut butter?
  • Is peanut butter keto?
  • How many carbs are in peanut butter?
  • Benefits of eating peanut butter
  • Downsides to peanut butter
  • Best keto-friendly peanut butter brands
  • How classic peanut butter brands compare
  • Other nut butters

    Keto Peanut Butter

    Image by MySpiritSphere

    What is peanut butter?

    Peanut butter, scientifically known as Arachis Hypogaea, is a bedrock spread in American culture. Unlike other snacks, peanut butter is considered an unprocessed food, made by simply grinding up roasted peanuts until they turn into a paste.

    First popularized by prolific agricultural scientist George Washington Carver, peanut butter rose in prominence during Carver's numerous campaigns to encourage peanut consumption in order to offset the nutrient depletions brought on by excessive cotton farming[*].

    Peanuts are actually considered a legume rather than a tree nut, placing them in the same family as soybeans, lentils, and peas. But, since peanuts have a practically identical nutrient breakdown as tree nuts, most people consider it a nut.

    Is peanut butter keto?

    Yes. If you eat it in moderation, peanut butter is a keto-friendly and healthy snack to add to your keto diet.

    is peanut butter keto

    The standard ketogenic diet requires you to keep net carb consumption under 50 grams per day. At just 4 grams of net carbs per serving, you can safely consume peanut butter as long as you stick to a low carb peanut butter and stay under your total daily carb intake.

    The allure of peanut butter on keto also comes from its perfect macronutrient ratio. When looking into how many carbs are in peanut butter, let’s look at two tablespoons of all-natural peanut butter[*]:

    • Calories: 188
    • Total Fat: 16g
    • Total Carbohydrate: 6g
    • Dietary Fiber: 1.9g
    • Net Carbs: 4.1 g
    • Protein: 8g

    Peanut butter is also great:

    • As a pre-workout snack to help fuel your exercises when carbohydrates are restricted.
    • To satisfy sugar cravings that may arise in the initial stages of keto.
    • When you want to stay in ketosis while traveling and have limited food options.

    But remember — everything in moderation!

    If you are incorporating peanut butter into your keto diet plan, it's crucial that you track the exact amount you are consuming because it's extremely easy to overeat. Peanut butter is delicious, and while a spoonful here or there can feel safe, if you snack too much in a single day you'll definitely blow past your limit.

    The best way to prevent this is to measure out your snacking in tablespoons and to always check the nutrition label to make sure you choose peanut butter brands that skip any unhealthy ingredients like added sugars, vegetable oils, or trans fats.

    Benefits of eating peanut butter

    Peanut butter is packed with nutrients and dietary fats, making it a great snack for people who are frequently out and about while on the ketogenic diet.

    Here are a few benefits of peanut butter consumption:

    • Nutrient-dense. All-natural peanut butter contains ample amounts of healthy micronutrients including niacin, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and vitamin E[*].
    • Macronutrient ratio. With a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high-fat macronutrient breakdown, peanut butter fits the ketogenic recommendations perfectly[*].
    • Great energy boost. The healthy fat content provides your body with the necessary calories to maintain sustained energy throughout the day without worrying about the extreme highs and lows that come with sugar highs and processed carbohydrates.
    • Abundant in monounsaturated fat. Studies have shown that these types of fats can help lower blood pressure, reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol, and even decrease cardiovascular risk[*].
    • Good source of fiber. Fiber has been shown to help lower the risk of stroke, obesity, gastrointestinal diseases, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure[*].
    • Keeps you full. Peanut butter helps you stay satiated so you aren't constantly craving food in between meals. This helps you lose weight by eating fewer calories overall.

    Downsides of peanut butter

    One primary concern of peanut butter consumption on a ketogenic diet is the quality of the ingredients. Many commercial peanut butter brands in food stores contain harmful, inflammatory ingredients like hydrogenated oils and trans fats which have been proven to increase the risk of various health diseases.

    In fact, studies have shown that hydrogenated oils were linked to the increase in:

    • Risk of heart disease[*]
    • Risk of cancer[*]
    • Inflammation[*]
    • Gut issues[*]

    If you want to incorporate peanut butter into your low-carb or ketogenic diet, we recommend avoiding commercial brands like Jif and Skippy because they tend to contain these added ingredients.

    Instead, stick to all-natural peanut butters without all of the unnecessary trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and sugars.

    Here are a few additional (potential) cons to peanut butter:

    • Easy to overeat. Since nuts are high in calories, it's very common to eat too much without noticing. In fact, just one extra tablespoon of peanut butter is approximately an additional 94 calories, which could easily exceed your daily calorie allowance!
    • Higher risk for pesticide contamination. Since commercial peanut crops are a part of big business, many farmers must use pesticides to prevent them from being destroyed. Peanuts also have a thin shell so all of the toxic pesticides have a higher chance of entering the peanut, but opting for higher-grade brands reduces this risk.
    • High in oxalates. Oxalate is an antinutrient which means it prevents certain minerals from being absorbed and used by your body. This can cause kidney stones in certain individuals who have large amounts of oxalate in the body[*].

    Best keto peanut butter brands

    In this list, we've excluded all products that add palm oil to their peanut butter. Companies add palm oil and other oils like grapeseed to create “no-stir” products, but there are a litany of environmental and public health issues with palm oil[*], and there are also nutritional concerns about cholesterol[*].

    While some companies do source better palm oil than others, it's still a loaded ingredient that we'd rather avoid. So if you'd also like to skip the palm oil, then opt for "stir" products. Sure, it's a bit of work, but it's worth knowing you're eating just peanuts!

    Okay! Here are our favorite keto peanut butter brands (all based on a typical 2 tablespoon serving).

    1. Teddie All Natural Peanut Butter

    Teddie Peanut Butter

    Teddie has been around since 1925, slinging the same peanut butter they always have. They avoid palm oil and other modern industry additives and stick to doing what they do best: using just peanuts and salt to make an incredible snack.

    Per serving: 190 calories, 16g fat, 4g net carbs, 8g protein

    2. Crazy Richard's 100% Peanut Butter

    Crazy Richard's Peanut Butter

    Nutritionists are in love with Crazy Richard's[*] and for good reason. It's no-frills approach and amazing taste is hard to beat, and you won't find a lower net carb count in peanut butter.

    Per serving: 180 calories, 16g fat, 2g net carbs, 8g protein

    3. Trader Joe's Peanut Butter

    Trader Joe's Peanut Butter

    If you're a Trader Joe's fanboy like me, then rest assured knowing that TJ's will come through for you on the PB front. Their classic peanut butter (either creamy or crunchy) doesn't have any ingredients that shouldn't be there.

    Per serving: 190 calories, 16g fat, 4g net carbs, 7g protein

    4. 365 Everyday Value Creamy Peanut Butter

    365 Everyday Value Peanut Butter

    If you're a Whole Foods or Amazon shopper, then go with this exact 365 product. Other Amazon peanut butters can have palm oil or added sugar, so remember to skip it if it is no-stir or has added sugar.

    Per serving: 200 calories, 17g fat, 4g net carbs, 8g protein

    5. Kroger Natural Creamy Peanut Butter

    Kroger Peanut Butter

    Similar to Amazon, Kroger's peanut butters vary in keto-friendliness depending on the kind you get. This natural “stir” peanut butter is the best and cheapest option, with just 4g of net carbs and no added oils.

    Per serving: 190 calories, 16g fat, 4g net carbs, 8g protein

    6. Smucker's Natural Creamy Peanut Butter

    Smucker's Peanut Butter

    You don't expect it with a brand so associated with jelly, but Smucker's natural creamy peanut butter is great for keto. It only has peanuts and salt, and the high protein, low net carb content make it a great choice.

    Per serving: 190 calories, 16g fat, 4g net carbs, 8g protein

    What about "classic" peanut butter brands?

    Now that you know the ideal options, what if your kid only likes Jif or you're out camping and someone whips out a jar of Skippy? These classic brands have a lot of product types but generally use added sugar and palm oil more than others.

    Although there are the other nutritional concerns we mentioned above, most brands that use distasteful additives are still keto-friendly from a net carbohydrate perspective.

    To save you some time, we've collected the most popular products from classic brands and rated their keto-friendliness. Our "Chomps Keto Score" is based on their net carb numbers and how many added ingredients they include, with 10 being the healthiest and 1 being the least.

    Brand/Product Net Carbs Added Oil Added Sugar Score
    Reese's Creamy Peanut Butter 4g Yes Yes (2g) 6
    Peter Pan Creamy Peanut Butter 5g Yes Yes (2g) 7
    Smart Balance Creamy Peanut Butter 5g Yes Yes (2g) 7
    Jif Creamy Peanut Butter 5g Yes Yes (2g) 7
    Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter 4g Yes Yes (3g) 7
    Justin's Classic Peanut Butter 5g Yes No 9

    Note: Reese's Creamy Peanut Butter has more added ingredients than the other products listed here, which is why we’ve ranked it lower than the others.

    What about other nut butters?

    Variety is not only the spice of life, but it's also beneficial when it comes to nut butters, as different nuts contain different beneficial micronutrients. For instance, almonds are high in vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium, whereas cashews are high in vitamins E, K, and B-6[*][*].

    Whether your preference is almond butter, cashew butter, or hazelnut butter, just remember that the same rules apply. Be sure to review the ingredient list (the best nut butters have just 1 or 2 ingredients) and enjoy in moderation.

    The bottom line on keto peanut butter

    Peanut butter is a fantastic keto-friendly snack when eaten in moderation, but it is possible to overeat, and there are notable differences between brands.

    We recommend sticking to all-natural peanut butters with just 1-2 ingredients, avoiding any brands that add in additional oils and sugars, and measuring out your snacking in tablespoons for the best results.

    Happy keto diet!

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    Nathan Phelps

    Nathan Phelps

    Nathan Phelps is a foodie, writer, marketer, and musician living in the great city of Nashville, TN. He loves the intersection of healthy eating & science, and his daily activities include co-opting coffee shops as offices, morning optimism, afternoon doubt, and a nice swig of evening regret before bed.