Peanut butter is often confused as a protein. But what is it really?

By Stacy Moutafis CEO of SM Fitness

With a serving size of 2 tablespoons, the fat content is double the protein content. So, in reality, whatever the macro that dominates the calorie content is what the food (or product) is categorized as. In this case, peanut butter is really a fat, not a protein.

So why do people say peanut butter is a protein? Here are the facts:

  • When a protein lacks one or more of the nine essential amino acids, it is known as an incomplete protein.
  • Peanut butter lacks the essential amino acid methionine, but is high in lysine.
  • All plant-based proteins are incomplete protein sources except for soy and quinoa.
    • Note: You can obtain all the essential amino acids even if you do not consume complete proteins by combining more than one plant-based protein within a 24-hour period. For example, if you consume peanut butter with a grain, such as bread, you’re consuming all nine essential amino acids you need for the day.
  • While peanut butter does not contain all nine essential amino acids to make it a complete protein, it does supply essential nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • Peanut butter also contains healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which your body needs to stay healthy.

You do not have to consume essential amino acids at every meal as long as you get a balance of all nine throughout the day. Since peanut butter is such an excellent source of protein and other nutrients, try making it part of your diet despite it not being a complete protein. While peanut butter lacks three essential amino acids, you can obtain those amino acids in other foods such as grains or animal products.

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