Peanuts or, more specifically, peanut butter, have long been part of the athlete’s bag of tricks. High in protein, healthy fats and fiber, peanut butter is a nearly perfect food to fuel your training. A new study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, has found yet another reason to find some way to sneak peanuts or peanut butter into your diet.
What they found
Over the course of the study, the researchers observed something that they referred to as the “second meal effect,” wherein peanuts showed an amazing ability to regulate the subjects’ blood sugar even if they ate a carb-loaded lunch.
A peanut-based breakfast also helped to keep the subjects feeling fuller late into the day, therefore restricting the amount of calories they ate. For up to 12-hours after they ate peanuts, the subjects showed elevated levels of the hormone peptide YY, which makes you feel full.
While the exact mechanisms at work here aren’t completely understood, the researchers theorized that it’s most likely the combination of protein, fat and fiber that gives peanut butter all these benefits.
Why It Matters
Researchers are only just starting to fully understand the importance of blood sugar control for the athlete and casual exerciser alike but, it’s clear that the effects of this reaction are far-reaching. Besides the terrible, frustrating, sometimes debilitating blood sugar crashed we’ve all experienced, your insulin reaction can have a huge impact on your fitness levels.
Insulin, the hormone that’s released when sugar enters your body, acts a messenger to let your body know that it’s time to use some nutrients and store others. That means that, under insulin’s direction, any calories that don’t have an immediate use get stored as body fat. If your insulin levels are consistently high, your body will continue to build up more fat reserves.
You don’t want that.
On the other hand, healthy insulin levels make sure that your muscles get all the nutrients they need to recover and rebuild from exercise. Clearly, then, maintaining balanced blood sugar levels throughout the day is important to, not just your energy levels, but your overall health.
Picking The Right Butter
It’s true that the above-noted study said that you could eat either peanuts or peanut butter to get these benefits, but chances are pretty good you’ll want to opt for the butter since it’s easier to pair with other foods or mix into recipes. When selecting your peanut butter, go as natural as possible. Avoid low-fat options, since these typically have unreasonably high levels of fat and sugar. Plus, the fat in peanut butter is highly beneficial and partly responsible for the benefits we’ve discussed. As unattractive as it might sound, or look, you want a butter that has a layer of fatty oil collected at the top of the jar.
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