Peanut butter might be one of the most popular foods on the planet — even in the health and wellness scene. From fat bombs to smoothies to oatmeal topping, peanut butter is a go-to ingredient for the health-conscious and macro-counting crowd. But what if you’re following a low-carb, ketogenic diet? Is there healthy keto peanut butter for you to enjoy?
In the past, the Perfect Keto stance has been that most peanut products are off-limits. Because most peanut butter is packed with processed oils, sugar, and other additives, it’s probably best to avoid it altogether.
But more recently, we’ve updated our opinion to include some peanut products, depending on how they’re processed and the ingredients added.
This guide will walk you through the facts vs. fiction of peanut butter, and provide you with tips to ensure that you’re buying the highest quality peanut butter out there.
What Is Peanut Butter?
The use of peanuts dates back to the Aztecs in the first century of the Common Era. It’s thought that they took peanuts and ground them into a paste to use for multiple reasons, including relief from toothaches[*].
Today, peanut production typically begins in spring when the nuts are first planted. They’re then harvested anywhere between August and October. Since they grow in shells, shelling is one of the first processes to occur once they’ve been picked and dried.
The peanuts then go through several other steps including roasting, cooling, blanching, and grinding. This last step is when they make their transition into the rich, creamy peanut butter you find in your local grocery store.
Nutrition Facts of Peanut Butter
While peanut butter nutrition can vary greatly depending on its processing and type, you can be sure it will have a high-fat content. Take a look at creamy, unsalted peanut butter, for example.
Some of the key vitamins and minerals found in peanut butter include:
- Vitamin E
- Phosphorus and potassium
How and When Does Peanut Butter Fit Into a Keto or Low-Carb Diet?
With its hearty fat and protein content, you’ve probably surmised that keto peanut butter exists.
A typical serving of peanut butter is roughly two tablespoons, making up a total of 188 calories. This includes 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of total carbs, 4 grams of net carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein[*].
With only 4 grams of net carbs per serving, you can indulge in a serving or two of this delicious salty treat without much concern of getting kicked out of ketosis. However, there are some factors you’ll want to take into account.
If you’re following the standard ketogenic diet (SKD), your daily carb limit is 20-50 grams. If you’ve reached the end of the day and you still have plenty of carbs to spare, having a spoonful of peanut butter is OK.
However, if you’re close to going over your carb limit, it’s probably best to hold off. It depends on how your body responds to carbs and how quickly you can get back into ketosis.
Other types of keto diets, such as the targeted keto diet (TKD) and cyclical keto diet (CKD), allow for higher carb intake during certain times — but they’re only suitable for those with a more active lifestyle who require the carbs. The TKD allows for 20-50 extra carbs up to an hour before and after exercise.
The CKD follows a standard keto diet, but with up to two days of carb backloading. This means that you will follow an SKD five days of the week, and then the other two days you’ll follow a high-carb, low-fat macro intake to restore your muscle glycogen levels.
Again, the CKD is only recommended for active people and athletes performing exercise at such high intensities that they need these carbs in order to perform at their full potential.
Is Peanut Butter Healthy?
While peanut butter can most certainly fit into your keto diet, some people question whether or not this food is actually healthy for your body.
Some concerns around peanut butter that you may have heard about include cross-contamination, aflatoxin, genetic modification, and processing with vegetable oils.
While these concerns are valid, the answer to whether or not peanut butter is healthy comes down to one thing — quality.
A high-quality, natural peanut butter won’t contain many of the concerning factors that put peanuts under scrutiny in the health and wellness scene.
Let’s take a look at each of these issues in more detail.
Processing With Vegetable Oils
The main issue with many peanut butter products in stores today is that they’re processed using hydrogenated oils. Also known as artificial trans fats, these oils might put your health at risk and cause severe damage[*].
Some of these negative effects include[*]:
- Increased risk of heart disease and developing certain types of cancer.
- Reduced HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and increased LDL cholesterol (the harmful one).
- Inflammatory conditions.
- Adverse effects on gut health.
The good news is, there are plenty of health-conscious brands out there that avoid the hydrogenated vegetable oils and offer pure peanut butter. Just check the label of your peanut butter jar and make sure the only ingredients on there are peanuts and salt.
Cross Contamination and Sensitivities
Another common concern with peanut butter is cross-contamination with sources of wheat (for those who are gluten sensitive) and general peanut allergies.
Many manufacturers will process nut butter in facilities that also process wheat. For this reason, some peanut butter manufacturers will label their products “gluten-free,” or even offer a statement such as “made in a facility that does not contain wheat.
If, however, the processing facility does contain other potential allergens, the manufacturer must label that next to the ingredients.
If you have a sensitivity or allergy to peanuts, there is no way around it — you need to avoid peanuts.
The good news is, there are nut butter alternatives that can complement your keto goals if you can’t do peanut butter.
Perfect Keto Nut Butter is a delicious and decadent combination of nuts and healthy fats that doesn’t contain any peanuts.
These healthy and nutritious ingredients create a high-fat and luscious keto nut butter without any added sugars, harmful additives, or hidden carbs, so you can indulge without getting kicked out of ketosis.
Perfect Keto Nut Butter comes in three different flavors:
Along with corn and soy, peanuts are another common food that undergoes genetic modification. These GMO foods are the subject of much scrutiny by health and wellness professionals due to the unnatural way that they’re produced.
While GMOs remain a hotly debated subject with no clear winner on either side, one thing is clear — you can’t go wrong by avoiding them. Some concerns that have been raised around genetic modification include[*]:
- Antibiotic resistance
- Food allergies
- Formation of toxins
- Reproductive harm
Does this mean that all peanuts are GMO and, therefore, off limits? No.
In fact, there are many companies that source non-GMO peanuts that undergo stringent verification processes to ensure the safety of their peanuts. Look for the Non-GMO Project Verification sticker (with the butterfly) to ensure your peanut butter is good to go.
Perhaps one of the most popular arguments you may hear against consuming peanut butter is the presence of a toxic compound called aflatoxin.
Aflatoxin is produced by fungi in certain crops like corn, peanuts, and tree nuts. The primary concern with this type of toxin is liver cancer, as high levels of aflatoxin can impair immunity and put the health of your liver at risk[*].
While this all may sound pretty scary, the FDA has strict guidelines in place to ensure that the supply of crops that are susceptible to aflatoxin is closely monitored. In fact, in the United States, zero cases of aflatoxicosis (a disease caused by aflatoxins) have been reported in humans[*].
Do Perfect Keto Products Contain Peanut Butter?
As an excellent source of fat with a great balance of protein, and a smooth and creamy consistency — peanut butter makes a fantastic keto ingredient.
For this reason, we’ve added peanuts to one of our keto cookie formulation to round out the flavor and texture.
As is true for all of the ingredients in Perfect Keto products, our peanut products are Non-GMO verified, gluten-free, and don’t contain processed vegetable oils.
How to Make (or Buy) Keto Peanut Butter
When shopping for peanut butter (or any food item), the most crucial step is to read the ingredient label. Opt for organic when possible, and stay clear from hydrogenated oils, added sugars, artificial ingredients, and lower-quality sweeteners.
Natural peanut butter should contain only one ingredient: peanuts. It may also contain other natural ingredients like sea salt to enhance the peanut flavor, but that should be it.
You can also make this vegan, paleo, gluten-free, and sugar-free snack from the comfort of your home, and it will take you no more than 15 minutes of prep time.
All you need is a food processor and peanuts. If you opt for raw peanuts, keep in mind that the butter won’t be as flavorful as the roasted version.
Here’s a quick recipe for creamy peanut butter:
- Add a cup of peanuts to your food processor.
- Start the grinding process at medium speed — once the peanuts have turned into a “flour” consistency, increase the speed.
- Depending on the potency of your food processor, you will see the peanuts slowly start to release their natural oils after a total time of 5-10 minutes.
- Once it’s at your desired consistency, remove it and store it in a glass jar.
- A pinch of sea salt or Himalayan salt (to bring up the flavors and increase the shelf life of your homemade butter).
- A splash of keto-friendly vanilla extract (you can get it on Amazon).
- A 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite keto-friendly sweetener (stevia, monk fruit, or erythritol).
- For crunchy and chunky peanut butter, crush some whole peanuts and add them to the butter.
The Bottom Line: Keto Peanut Butter
Just like any other food out there, when it comes to peanut butter — quality matters. As long as you know what to look for (non-GMO, no vegetable oils, and free of contaminants like wheat), peanut butter can fit perfectly into your keto diet.
One word of caution, however — it’s incredibly easy to overeat peanut butter, so be sure to watch your serving size if you don’t want to sneak over the line on your carbs.