is powdered peanut butter healthy?

powdered peanut butter

Powdered peanut butter is all the rage! But should it be?

When I first heard about this powdered PB I thought it was just a clever invention for astronauts and backpackers.

Then I started to see it pop up on Instagram. Regular, everyday people were eating this stuff in their regular, everyday lives. Like, with full gravity… in their kitchen!

So I needed to explore why this was happening.

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I didn’t have to look far. The main reason people like powdered peanut butter is plastered in big bold letters right on the jar.

“85% less fat calories than traditional peanut butter”

That’s the claim made by PB2, one of the more popular brands. 85% less calories sounds great, right?

But what are “fat calories?”

In this case, they’re calories that you really, really want. Let me explain.

THE TLDR VIDEO VERSION:

Strike #1: powdered peanut butter gets rid of the good stuff

Fat calories come from either unsaturated fats or saturated fats. When it comes to heart health, a good rule of thumb is that saturated fats are to be limited, while unsaturated fats are to be focused on. From a purely nutritional point of view, squeezing the unsaturated fat out of food doesn’t have a health advantage. Our body needs those unsaturated fats to make brain and nerve cells, cell membranes, hormones, etc.

Guess which type of fats you’ll primarily find in peanut butter?

UNSATURATED FATS!

So yeah.. you’re gonna want to tell PB2 to put those 85% fat calories back in your peanut butter. Your body, and especially your heart, is begging you for peanut butter fat.

Strike one… powdered peanut butter gets rid of the wrong type of fat.

For strike two, let’s look at what ends up replacing those fats.

powdered peanut butter

Strike #2: powdered peanut butter replaces good stuff with bad stuff

In recent years the issue of cutting out saturated fats was thrown into some confusion when it was found that not all people who eat diets low in saturated fats have less risk of heart disease.

It seems the biggest reason for the confusion is that when people cut out foods with saturated fats, some of them replace those foods with carbs, while others eat more unsaturated foods instead. The ones who eat carbs don’t lower their risk of heart disease.

The people who DO lower their risk of heart disease are the people who replace their saturated fats with unsaturated fats. This just further highlights how important unsaturated fats are.

So let’s just take a look at what all those fat calories are being replaced with when you eat powdered peanut butter instead of the real stuff. Hint: unless the saturated fats are being replaced with healthy fats, this isn’t going to end well.

When you eat powdered peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter, you’re getting more of these three things:

  1. Water (you add this to make the powder a paste)
  2. Salt
  3. Sugar

The water is fine. Obviously.

The sugar and salt are not fine. Obviously.

Powdered peanut butter has 30x more sodium than natural peanut butter.

It has 50% more sodium than creamy peanut butter.

This study, published in 2014, estimates that 1 in 10 cardiovascular deaths is attributed to high salt intake. 1 in 10! That’s worrisome. Nearly every processed food is high in sodium, so it’s important to look for ways to reduce our consumption of sodium.

And then we have the sugar. The amount of sugar added isn’t actually that high, until you remember that this sugar is REPLACING the fat found in normal peanut butter. Again, this is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Strike two… powdered peanut butter replaces good fats with salt and sugar.

Strike #3: powdered peanut butter tastes frickin’ awful

To be 100% honest, my first reaction when I tasted this stuff was a whole-face-shudder of disgust.

photo credit: http://utiligif.tumblr.com/post/134872021236

It was just frickin’ awful.

I noticed immediately that it’s high in protein, as it reminded me of a peanut butter flavoured protein bar. Chalky, salty, and comes with a bad aftertaste. There is nothing redeeming about peanut butter when it’s been stripped of its butteriness, and then had water, salt, and sugar added back into it. It sounds like frankenbutter, and tastes like it too.

Strike three, powdered peanut butter. You taste awful.

Strike #4: powdered peanut butter is expensive

What, you thought there’d only be three strikes? No, powdered peanut butter deserves so many more strikes than that.

People often complain that eating healthy is expensive. Well, eating unhealthy is sometimes more expensive. It certainly is in the case of powdered PB. Between Walmart and Bulk Barn I’ve found that the price ranges from $.30 to $.65 per tbsp. That can really add up!

Strike #5: it leaves you with the satisfaction level you’d expect from eating powder

The texture of this stuff is so unsatisfying that it’s actually bad for you. Let me explain.

When we don’t get satisfaction from our food, we’re psychologically driven to find that satisfaction one way or another. Typically we do this by eating more food, which can lead to overeating.

See, eating isn’t just about sliding nutrients into our organs. If it were, we could just be tube fed, and it wouldn’t matter what our food tastes like. We would just choose what would be physiologically best for us and be done with it.

But there is a psychological component to eating, where the satisfaction factor comes in. We don’t just ingest food, we TASTE our food. We have the privilege of ENJOYING our food. And what an amazing privilege it is!

If you’ve ever noticed that you find high-fat foods filling, this is not because of the physical way they fill your body up like protein and fibre do, but because fat is satisfying on another level.

It provides what food scientists call ‘mouthfeel.’  Basically, it makes your mouth feel good! When your mouth feels good, you feel good. It’s satisfying!

When you take all that fat out, you get an unsatisfying mouthfeel. Grainy. Powdery. It’s bad.

And when you’re unsatisfied with your food, you’ll subconsciously seek it out somewhere else.

So enjoy that rich, fatty, creamy peanut butter. The lower in sodium and salt the better.

If you’d like to learn more about how to increase your food satisfaction and quit overeating as a result, read more about how I did it!

And hey, if you really love your powdered peanut butter (I’ve heard it works well in smoothies), and you eat other sources of healthy fats, then by all means, go ahead and enjoy it!

Check out these other food product reviews:

This article is part of my Virtual Grocery Store Tour series.

 

is powdered peanut butter healthy?

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12 Comments on “is powdered peanut butter healthy?”

  1. I use PBfit. It tastes better than the real thing. 1gm more of sugar. I live on carbs so we will never agree on that. This stuff is amazing. I use it in my smoothies.

  2. Omg you are hilarious haha I was laughing while reading this thanks so much for sharing real thoughts about the powered peanut butter and um yeah I’ll stick to Smuckers Natural PB lol no powder for this girl lol

  3. You tell only parts of the whole nutritional picture, I can’t believe you call yourself a dietitian. This is the kind of information that makes the public not able to make healthy decisions. Also, depending on your macro needs this peanut butter can fit better if needed in a pinch. You assume everyone should eat one way, that is something I would frown on picking a knowledgeable dietitian… Last thing, The brand I eat does have 2g unsaturated fat, 3g carbs (2g of which are fiber), no added sugar, 0mg sodium (which depending on your diet some people could use the sodium, you know athletes… and it has 8 grams of protein. It fits my macros excellently. Yes the taste is to be desired but it’s not terrible unless you’re used to the sugary crap peanut butter. You seem uneducated or biased, I’m assuming the first. I’ve never had PB2 maybe their brand sucks, If that’s the case you should say don’t eat PB2. I can tell you not all brands are as bad as you described.

    1. I love discussions on this blog but I ask that people remain respectful and polite, please and thank you!

      Looks like you didn’t poke around my site for very long. Here’s an article I wrote when I first started blogging four years ago…. https://www.smartnutrition.ca/nutrition-2/healthy-healthy/

      Oh, and this one where I actually get frustrated with people who only know a sliver of nutritional truth…. https://www.smartnutrition.ca/smarten-up/are-you-victim-nutrition-fraud/

      This blog article is aimed at the general population, not athletes, and not those who aren’t counting their macros 🙂

  4. We get enough unsaturated fat on a WFPB diet. I avoid regular peanut butter because of the fat content. Remember 1 gram of fat has 9 calories. the brand I tried had no salt and no sugar. for some who would like a peanut flavor this is an excelle
    nt product.

    1. *Tries to defend a processed food with the whole foods plant based diet as his defence.

      Hmm, logic missing.

  5. Using powdered peanut butter allows me to get that flavor in recipes (sauces, stir fries, smoothies) without the temptation of sitting there and eating it out of the jar. Peanut butter is very easy to overeat-for me at least. The fats in peanut butter also include added oils which make it much more calorie dense. I’m no expert but isn’t there a point where too many Omega-6 fatty acids are detrimental?

    I agree the added sugar isn’t the best. As far as flavor, it tastes great in recipes, but not as good when simply mixing it with water and using as regular peanut butter. PB2 can get pricey but Walmart brand is pretty cheap.

    Nice article-thanks!

  6. I have never heard or seen powdered PB but I make my own which is very quick and easy to do..I add no sugar…just peanuts a little salt and oil… I believe powdered strips the oil out and it is a good fat so unless you req fewer calories then it may be better but many brands appear to have added salt and sugar…I am not tempted to buy it 🙂

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