You’ve probably been there: After slathering your morning toast with an *ahem* generous amount of peanut butter, you catch a glimpse of the nutrition content on the jar and are, er, kinda shocked.
It’s true that peanut butter isn’t exactly low in fat or calories by any means. A serving size of PB is generally two tablespoons and usually comes in around 188 calories and 16 grams of fat, depending on the brand.
Those stats typically make PB a food that can be pretty easy to overdo in any given snack or meal, especially if you follow an eating regimen that’s pretty strict or meant to be low in calories or carbs. If you’re on the keto diet, though, the high-fat content *could* actually work in your favor.
But what about the carbs? Can eating too much of it kick you out of ketosis? And is keto the only diet in existence that finally gives you permission to eat as much peanut butter straight out of the jar with a spoon as you want?
You’ve got tons of PB-meets-keto questions, and I’ve got answers—straight from a dietitian. Peanut butter lovers, this one’s for you.
Is peanut butter considered keto-friendly?
In short, yes it is. That’s because there aren’t technically any foods that are off-limits on keto, explains registered dietitian Danielle Schaub, culinary and nutrition manager for Territory Foods. You’re simply trying to hit specific macronutrient targets (around 70 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and 10 percent carbs).
Obviously, it’s easier to hit those targets if you choose high-fat, low-carb foods—but thankfully, PB fits the bill. “Peanut butter can certainly fit into a keto plan because it is high in fat, moderate in protein, and fairly low in carbs,” says Schaub. In that way, peanut butter is actually one of the best foods you could eat on keto when trying to hit your macronutrient goals. Yaaaaay.
But how *much* peanut butter can I eat every day on keto?
Now for some bad news. Even though PB is a good source of dietary fat, Schaub says nuts contain protein and carbs, too, so you still need to stick to the usual serving size of two tablespoons (sadly, it’s just not ideal on keto to indulge in your crunchy or creamy favorite with reckless abandon).
Eating peanut butter won’t kick me out of ketosis, right?
As WH previously reported, your body enters a state of ketosis when it starts burning fat instead of glucose (from carbs) for energy. So keeping your carb intake under 10 percent of your daily nutrients helps you maintain ketosis and, potentially, lose weight. Eating too many carbs is what can kick you out of ketosis and reset your body to burning glucose again.
So how can you avoid this? By following the serving size recommendations and choosing your PBs wisely (more on that in a sec). “On a 2,000 calorie keto diet, you would aim for 50 grams of carbs per day,” says Schaub. “So peanut butter can easily fit within that carb budget if you stick to the serving size.”
Are some PBs more keto-friendly than others?
Yes! Peanut butter with added sugar increases the carb content but not the fiber content, says Schaub, meaning you’ll consume more net carbs. “The most keto-friendly peanut butters have just peanuts and salt as ingredients because they have the highest fiber content, which you can subtract from the total carbs,” she explains.
Unfortunately, your childhood favorites, like Jif and Skippy, are not the best choices given that they contain added sugar. Schaub says many variations are also flavored or altered to reduce the fat content, which is another thing to avoid when making a PB purchase when you’ve got keto on the mind.
A good rule of thumb: Look for ingredient labels that include only peanuts and salt, palm oil, or coconut oil.
What about other nut butters?
If you’re not a fan of peanuts, you’re in luck: There are lots of other nut butter choices at many grocery stores, including cashew, almond, pecan, hazelnut, and macadamia nuts. And when all else fails, you can totally make your own with a food processor.
Just know that not all nut butters are created equal, especially when it comes to keto. Schaub says pecans and macadamia nuts have the highest fat and lowest carbs of all nuts, so you could eat the most of those nut butters on a keto diet.