Despite being super restrictive, keto is one of the most popular diets out there. Part of the reason is that followers still get to eat high-fat foods—the goal being to get the body into ketosis, aka fat-burning mode.
If you’re just getting started on the high-fat, low-carb diet, you’re probably wondering which of your favorite foods are still okay to eat. Which brings us to peanut butter, one of the most delicious creations this planet has to offer. It’s clearly high in fat, but you might be wondering if peanut butter is keto-friendly.
“Peanut butter can be a part of a keto diet since it contains mostly fats and protein with very little carbohydrates,” says Dara Godfrey, MS, RD, a registered dietitian in New York City.
Unfortunately, only some peanut butter is keto-friendly.
On keto, you want to be getting 60-80 percent of your daily calories from fat and 20-30 percent from protein, and you should keep your carb intake to just 20-30 grams per day.
“The keto diet is all about staying in the nutrient ranges, so avoiding added sugars is key to reading the label,” says Jessica Crandall Snyder, RDN, registered dietitian at Vital RD in Denver and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Unfortunately, that probably means the stuff your mom spread on your PB&Js is off-limits. “Most peanut butters on the market add sugar into their product,” says Dara Godfrey, MS, RD, a registered dietitian in New York City.
What kind of peanut butter is best for keto?
“Make sure to look for peanut butters with only up to two ingredients in them: peanuts, and maybe salt,” Godfrey says. She recommends Smuckers Natural peanut butter, either creamy or chunky.
She points out that in a 2-Tbsp serving, most natural peanut butters contain 6-7 grams of carbohydrates. Subtract the carbs that come from fiber, and you’re looking at 2-4 grams of net carbs. “Most of the carbohydrates it does contain comes from fiber carbs, which break down much more slowly in our digestive tract than carbohydrates coming from sugars,” Godfrey says.
Another note about choosing a keto-friendly peanut butter: Most “low fat” or “reduced fat” brands add in sugar, Godfrey says.
Nut butters, in general, can be great for people on the keto diet.
“Nut butter is high in fat and protein and suitable on a keto diet. Same with peanut butter, almond butter, and sunflower seed butter,” says Crandall Snyder.
If you’re all about nut butters, stock your pantry with a bunch of different kinds.
“For me, choosing a variety of nut butters is optimal, since different nuts contain different beneficial vitamins and minerals,” Godfrey recommends. “Almonds have calcium, cashews are rich in iron and magnesium, [and] walnuts are high in omega-3s.”
Finally, we hate to break it to you, but you’re going to want to pass on the Nutella—even though it does contain hazelnuts. Those 19 grams of carbs in every 2-Tbsp serving aren’t going to help you stay in ketosis.