Nutrition

Almond Butter vs. Peanut Butter: What's Best for Keto

Almond Butter vs. Peanut Butter: What's Best for Keto

Two popular and widely-consumed nut butters are almond and peanut butter. Peanut butter has been a staple ingredient for quite a long time and almond butter has become more common fairly recently. If you're following a special diet such as keto, you may be wondering which is better for you: almond vs peanut butter.


Are Nut Butters Allowed on Keto?

Nut butters are made largely from nuts, and most nuts are allowed on a keto diet. Therefor, most nut butters are also allowed on keto.

Although defined as fruits with a hard-inedible shell and a seed, most nuts are low in carbs but high in fat. Examples include macadamia nuts, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, and Brazil nuts.

However, some nuts are not as keto friendly. Chestnuts, for example, are high in carbs and low in fat, making them unsuitable on a keto diet. In-between nuts you can eat in moderation are pistachios, cashews, and pine nuts.

Peanuts belong to a group of their own. Botanically speaking, peanuts are legumes. But because they resemble nuts nutritionally, they're often put into this category. Like nuts, peanuts are also low in carbs and high in fat, which means that peanuts are ketogenic.

Adding nuts and nut butters to your keto diet will help you meet your macros and provide many other benefits as well. These foods are valuable sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Not to mention that they're tasty treats that you can also use in a range of sweet and savory keto meals.

Suggested reading: Top 10 Keto Nuts and Seeds to Help You Meet Your Macros


Almond Butter vs Peanut Butter:
Which Is Better for Keto?

Peanut butter has been around for quite a while, while almond butter was introduced as an alternative fairly recently. Both butters have their advantages and disadvantages; however, what you really want to know is which one is better for keto.

The short answer is both are ok. These two nut butters are nutritionally quite similar. Peanut butter is slightly higher in carbs than almond butter. However, it's also higher in protein. On the other hand, almond butter is higher in fiber and micronutrients. Because every gram of carb matters on keto, we could argue that almond butter beats peanut butter where macros are concerned. But as you'll see, these differences are minor and which butter you should go for depends on what you're looking for in a nut butter.

Below, we'll discuss the different benefits, macronutrient composition, application, and drawbacks of each to help you decide for yourself.


creamy-and-smooth-peanut-butter-in-jar-on-wood-table

Peanut Butter for Keto

Peanut butter is a paste made from ground and roasted peanuts. Most commercial varieties contain additional ingredients such as salt, sweeteners, emulsifiers, and fully hydrogenated vegetable oil. Emulsifiers and vegetable oils help prevent the natural oil in peanut butter from separating. In the US, peanut butters need to be 90% peanuts to be labeled as such.

When following a keto diet, it's best to go for unsweetened and natural peanut butters. You can sweeten them with erythritol, stevia, and other sweeteners if you like your peanut butter to be sweet. Most natural peanut butters tend to separate and are runnier than commercial peanut butter. The taste may be slightly different as well, but this depends on the brand.


Macros

Peanut butter is low-carb, high-fat, and moderate in protein. This makes it almost perfect for the keto diet. However, it still can contribute to your daily carb limit: two tablespoons of natural peanut butter provide 4g of net carbs [1]. On the bright side, you also get a whopping 16g of fat from the same serving size. And what's even better is that most of this fat is monounsaturated, which researchers argue is great for heart and metabolic health [2].

Besides providing a good macros ratio, peanuts also contain a helpful dose of micronutrients and fiber. Micronutrients most abundant in peanut butter include folate, thiamine, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and zinc. Two tablespoons of peanut butter provide 2g of fiber, which is 8% of your daily needs for fiber.


Peanut butter nutrition info (2 tbsp)

Calories: 210, Fat: 16g, Protein: 9g, Net carbs: 4g


Benefits

Like all legumes, peanuts are rich in protein. Protein is an essential nutrient, but also one that is most helpful in curbing hunger and supporting weight loss. Research shows protein the most thermogenic of the three macronutrients [3]. Thermogenic nutrients tend to produce heat when metabolized, and this results in greater calorie expenditure. In simpler terms, your body burns calories while metabolizing protein.

Some researchers consider peanuts a complete source of protein, containing all 20 amino acids in different proportions [4]. However, it's highest in lysine and the biggest source of L-arginine. Lysine helps build muscle proteins and L-arginine helps with vasodilation and keeps blood vessels healthy.

However, peanuts come with health benefits beyond nutrition. Regular peanut consumption reduces your risk of cardiovascular diseases [5]. Peanuts and products made with peanuts such as peanut butter contain compounds like resveratrol, phenols, flavonoids, and phytosterols, which are known to reduce risk of diseases such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and cancer.


Almond Butter vs. Peanut Butter_graphic 1

How to Use Peanut Butter on Keto

Peanut butter is tasty and versatile. You can add it to sweet dishes such as keto puddings and pancakes as well as savory salads and stir-fries. Eaten with low-carb crudités, peanut butter helps make for healthful snack for on the go. Other ways to use peanuts on keto include:

  • Adding it to smoothies
  • Making peanut butter cookies
  • Using it as a spread
  • Making fat bombs
  • Adding it to chia puddings
  • Making peanut butter fudge

As far as servings go, stick to 2 tablespoons per day. You'll get around 4g of net carbs from this serving and have plenty of room left to fill with low-carb fruits and vegetables. On keto, it's best to think of peanut butter as a flavoring to avoid going overboard on carbs.

Also, make sure you eat sugar-free peanut butter. Many commercial varieties include sugar in their products as well as palm oil. If you want to avoid both, go for natural peanut butter. And there's also a new strain of high-oleic peanuts that manufacturers use to make their peanut butter. These products contain fewer inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and more heart-healthy oleic acid.


Drawbacks

A major drawback of peanut butter where keto is concerned is its carb content. Two tablespoons, which is a typical serving, isn't really much. But this amount provides 4g of net carbs. For comparison, there are 4g of net carbs in 1 whole avocado weighing 200g. You'd be better off getting those carbs from more nutrient-dense foods.

Another drawback of peanut butter is that it causes allergies in many people. Food allergies usually result from certain proteins in food. That's why most food allergies involve protein-rich foods like peanuts but also eggs, milk, nuts, soy, and wheat.


homemade-almond-butter-in-a-wooden-bowl-and-a-bag-of-jute

Almond Butter for Keto

Almond butter is a paste made from almonds, which are either roasted or raw. Most brands of almond butter contain nothing but almonds. Almond butter tends to separate into oil and solids. But a quick stir solves this problem. It's also runnier than commercial brands of peanut butter.

Almond products are generally popular on a keto diet for making bread, almond flour pasta, and dessert dishes. Almond butter is no different. It's also great for people with peanut allergies and those who want to avoid legumes. Almond butter tastes markedly different from peanut butter. Depending on a person's taste buds, it's often described as mild, slightly sweet, and having a strong almond flavor. Almond butter also has a sticky and runny consistency.


Macros

Almond butter contains slightly fewer calories than peanut butter. It also contains slightly less protein and net carbs but more fat than peanut butter. Two tablespoons of almond butter contain approximately 1-3g net carbs and 3g of fiber depending on the brand. The same serving size provides 17g of fat, most of which is monounsaturated.

As far as micronutrients go, almond butter is definitely superior to peanut butter. It's much higher in calcium, iron, vitamin E, magnesium, niacin, copper, and zinc. On the other hand, it contains the same levels of potassium and less selenium and folate than peanut butter.


Almond butter nutrition info (2 tbsp)

Calories: 190, Fat: 17g, Protein: 6g, Net carbs: 3g


Benefits

Like most nuts, almonds are also a fairly decent source of protein, which makes almond butter satiating. Furthermore, almonds are low in net carbs, and that's good news for those on a keto diet. Having 2 servings of almond butter (4 tablespoons) will give you a maximum of 6g of net carbs, compared to 8g you'd get from the same serving of peanut butter. While this difference may seem modest, keep in mind that every extra carb matters on keto.

Another major benefit of almonds and almond butter is nutrient density. Almonds are often called nutritional powerhouses because they provide lots of important nutrients in a relatively small serving. Almond butter can also help contribute to your daily protein requirements, especially when eaten alongside other protein-rich foods like mixed greens, crudités, and coconuts.

Eating almond butter on a regular basis will provide you with the same health benefits associated with nut consumption in general [6]. These benefits include:

  • Increased satiety
  • Healthy blood glucose levels
  • Improved blood lipids
  • Healthier weight
  • Reduced cancer risk

Almond Butter vs. Peanut Butter_graphic 2

How to Use Almond Butter on Keto

You can replace peanut butter with almond butter in almost any recipe. Most almond butter is unsweetened, so feel free to add a non-nutritive sweetener of your liking. Ways to eat almond butter on keto include:

  • Adding it to smoothies
  • Adding it to fat bombs
  • Making stir-fries
  • Adding it to salad dressings
  • Using it as a spread

Make sure to stick to 1-2 servings a day and read the label for added sugars. An alternative is also to make your own almond butter. Slightly toast the almonds or use them raw, add them to a food processor and process until smooth and runny. This process can take up to 25 minutes and you'll need to scrape the paste every now and then.


Drawbacks

A major drawback of almond butter is that it's more expensive than peanut butter. Almonds are three to four times more expensive than peanuts, and this difference also shows in nut butter prices. The average price for peanut butter is around $ 2.5 per 16 oz container, while the same amount of almond butter will cost you $ 6 – 10.

Another drawback is protein quality. Almonds do contain proteins, but they're not a complete source of protein, and one study shows their proteins are difficult to digest [7]. That means you will not get the same benefits of protein from almond butter as you would from peanut butter or animal proteins.


The Verdict

So, which nut butter is best for keto?

The short answer would be almond butter simply because it has slightly fewer carbs and more fat.

However, macronutrient differences between almond vs peanut butter are small. It might not make much of a difference if you go for peanut butter.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should go for a nut butter that suits your diet needs and preferences. For example, if you want to make nut butter a part of your daily meals, then go for almond butter because it's lower in carbs and higher in micronutrients. Go for peanut butter if you want a plant source of high-quality protein and that you'll use in smaller quantities.


Conclusion

Nut butters are healthy foods you should definitely include to a keto diet. Most people go for peanut butter or almond butter as an alternative. Both of these nut butters are low in carbs and high in fat. However, they differ in micronutrient composition, protein quality, and price.

Which nut butter you should go for on keto should be based on your personal choice and needs. Both work well on this diet as long as they fit your macros.

References

  1. Full Report (All Nutrients):  45239174, CREAMY, UNSWEETENED, PEANUT, BUTTER, UPC: 036800192201. 2018 July - https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/45239174?fgcd=&manu=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=CREAMY%2C+UNSWEETENED%2C+PEANUT%2C+BUTTER%2C+UPC%3A+036800192201&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=
  2. Gillingham LG, Harris-Janz S, Jones PJ. Dietary monounsaturated fatty acids are protective against metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease risk factors. 2011 March - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21308420
  3. Westerterp KR. Diet induced thermogenesis. 2004 August - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC524030/
  4. Arya SS, Salve AR, Chauhan S. Peanuts as functional food: a review. 2016 January - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4711439/
  5. Alper CM, Mattes RD. Peanut consumption improves indices of cardiovascular disease risk in healthy adults. 2003 April - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12672709
  6. de Souza RGM, Schincaglia RM, Pimentel GD, Mota JF. Nuts and Human Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review. 2017 December - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5748761/
  7. Ahrens S, Venkatachalam M, Mistry AM, Lapsley K. Almond (Prunus dulcis L.) Protein Quality. 2005 September - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7577438_Almond_Prunus_dulcis_L_Protein_Quality

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