Paying attention to your macronutrient intake is the key to reaching your fitness goals. Whether you’re trying to put on some lean muscle, lose weight or simply maintain your current physique, diet is extremely important. With diet, you have to construct your meals in a way to feed your body (and muscles) with the right nutrients. Balancing out carbs, proteins, fats and total calories can be tricky in this regard.
But what about in between meals? Are we not allowed food in between meal times? As long as you’re snacking on the right foods and in moderation, snacks are perfectly fine, and can even be used as a tool to help you reach your macros, which can be especially helpful if you’re bulking.
In terms of nutritional value, all snacks were not created equal. Nuts, more specifically peanuts, have always been a popular snack. The Planter’s dancing peanut has been on TV for decades, and people have had peanuts in their snacking arsenal ever since.
But are peanuts a healthy snack to eat? What makes them a better snack than any other popular snack food? Let’s take a look at peanuts and whether they’re worth keeping in your pantry for inter-meal munching.
Protein In Peanuts
Peanuts are exceptionally high in protein, as most other legumes. Per cup, peanuts have 38g of protein, which is equivalent to the average protein shake. This macronutrient value is important because without protein, your muscles simply wouldn’t repair themselves.
You might think that this only applies to people who are constantly lifting weights, but even every day strain takes its toll on your muscles. Ever been sore after a day of yard work, or maybe after helping a friend move? Your muscles aren’t only recruited with weightlifting, they’re recruited with every motion you make, and if they don’t have the nutrients to help repair and rebuild themselves, you can be at an extremely increased risk of injuring yourself.
If you’re trying to build muscle, the general rule is to be consuming 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. This can be difficult with a few meals a day, even with other snacks. However, snacking on a protein-packed food like peanuts can help you up your protein intake and fuel some serious mass and strength gains.
Carbs In Peanuts
Carbohydrates have gotten an extremely varied association in the fitness industry. Most of those who are bulking suck in carbs like their life depends on it; however, those who are dieting tend to shy away from carbs.
While it’s true that, in excess, carbs taking take a serious toll on your diet, don’t forget that carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. Without carbohydrates, your workouts are going to be lacking; and, if you’re trying to bulk without carbohydrates, you’re fighting a losing battle. A glucose spike (caused by consuming carbohydrates) within a 90-minute period is recommended for building muscle, as it will help shuttle protein and other nutrients to your muscles.
Peanuts, per cup, contain 24g of carbohydrates. When you look at the carbohydrates in a lot of foods, you’ll find that they all come from sugar. This is not the case with nuts, more specifically peanuts. Of the 24g of carbs peanuts contain, HALF of it is dietary fiber.
Dietary fiber is that good stuff from the cardboard cereal that helps you promote a healthy digestive tract. Messing with the tummy is bad news, and getting enough fiber is paramount to keeping your stomach, and the rest of your GI tract happy and healthy.
Fat In Peanuts
“Why would I want to snack on something that has fat in it?’’, you may find yourself asking. Well, simply put, not all fat is bad. Healthy fats (unsaturated), are essential to several functions in your body. Having a healthy intake of fat can help you regulate blood pressure, lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, improve cholesterol levels and keep your cell membranes healthy.
Fat also serves as an energy source once your carbohydrates are depleted. One cup of peanuts contains 72g of fat, 59 of which are the healthy fats we mentioned earlier (poly and monounsaturated).
Calories In Peanuts
One cup of peanuts has 828 calories. There. I said it. If you’re dieting, this could be a major turn off. When trying to lose weight, you want to be at a caloric deficit, or taking in fewer calories than you burn daily. When trying to achieve that caloric deficit, an extra 828 calories will probably not be very welcome in your diet.
However, if you are dieting and your finding your meals a bit light in calories and satisfaction, popping a few peanuts can help to curb cravings, as well as give you a boost in your other macronutrients. If you’re trying to gain muscle, this should be music to your ears. Peanuts are an easy way to boost your calories when on a bulk.
Verdict: Healthy or Unhealthy?
Healthy! However, that goes for the UNSALTED peanuts, as salted peanuts obviously contain a high amount of sodium, which can be detrimental to your health in high doses.
Healthy fats, dietary fiber and a good dose of protein definitely make peanuts a body-friendly snack. If you’re dieting, you may shy away from eating very many, but as long as you’re controlling portions, peanuts can benefit your body no matter your physical goals.
Snacking, contrary to popular belief, can certainly have its place in any healthy diet. A healthy snack here and there will help curb your appetite and keep those cravings at bay. However, many snacks are simply empty calories and don’t contribute much of anything towards your macronutrient your requirements. Peanuts are loaded with macros and are completely natural and delicious.
Dietary fiber, protein and healthy fats compose these tasty treats, so pig out on them if you’re on the bulking wagon. If you’re dieting, peanuts are definitely still on the menu for you, you’ll just have to be a little stricter with your intake due to the high calorie count. Remember: everything in moderation!