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Blog Nutrition Craving Peanut Butter: 4 Reasons Why You Have This Intense Urge

Craving Peanut Butter: 4 Reasons Why You Have This Intense Urge

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Food cravings are a normal part of life. However, sudden intense and uncontrollable urges to indulge in certain foods may be a cause for concern. You may be wondering why you finished the whole jar of peanut butter in record time.

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Peanut butter cravings, although common, might be a reason for concern. Do you crave peanut butter even when you are full? Do you want to eat peanut butter all day long? Well, there are excellent explanations for this, and here are some of them.

What Does Craving Peanut Butter Mean?

Craving for peanut butter may mean several things. Besides lack of willpower and the fact that peanut butter tastes fantastic, your body may be trying to tell you something else.  

The sudden urge to eat peanut butter may signify that you aren’t meeting your body’s nutritional needs. Your body needs an adequate balance of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins daily.

Depending on the activities you do and your gender, your daily calorie intake may vary. Adult males require 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight, while their female counterparts need 1,600 to 2,400 calories (2). Note that the major sources of calories are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Natural peanut butter is made from peanuts and contains no artificial additives. For every 100 grams of peanuts, there are about 567 calories. Additionally, peanuts are high in fats (49.2g), proteins (25.8g), carbohydrates (16.1), and fiber (8.5g) (5).

Natural peanut butter may contain a little salt and no hydrogenated oils. All the components obtained from it are in their purest forms and most beneficial to you.

Craving peanut butter may mean that you have low calories and need a boost. Additionally, a slight variation in your daily calorie intake may affect your energy levels. To supplement this, you may find yourself emptying a whole jar of peanut butter.

Read More: Peanut Butter On Keto Diet: Does It Meet Keto’s High-Fat Low-Carb Guidelines?

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Why Am I Craving Peanut Butter?

You don’t have to panic if you find yourself craving peanut butter. There are solid reasons why you have this urge, and they are listed below.

Not Enough Fat In Your Diet

You may crave peanut butter if you have a fat deficiency. Most people think that fat is bad. On the contrary, your body needs fat to function.

A healthy body fat percentage is essential to maintain normal body functions. The ideal body fat percentage in women is around 20-30%, while in men, the percentage drops to between 10 to 20%. Men are more muscular than women, hence the drop.

A low-fat diet may affect the overall body fat percentage. This might drive you to have peanut butter cravings. Peanut butter has a high-fat content of around 50 g per 100 grams. These include monounsaturated fats (25.4g), polyunsaturated fats (12.3g).

Low-fat diets can be beneficial when done in moderation. However, if a diet is too low in fat to meet the minimum body fat requirements, you may start craving fat-rich foods. At first, this might be confusing for you since you won’t know what your food cravings mean. You might even find yourself craving peanut butter and jelly.

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Not Enough Protein In Your Diet

You need proteins to build and maintain your muscles. On average, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

This is enough to meet your basic nutritional requirements, maybe just enough to keep you alive. You may need more depending on your gender and the activities you engage in.

If your daily protein requirements are not met, you may crave peanut butter to fill this void.

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Not Enough Calories In Your Diet

All weight loss programs advocate for reduced calorie intake. Some very low-calorie diets involve eating a maximum of 800 calories per day. This is a far cry from the recommended calorie intake of 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men. While this may help with weight loss, it may be detrimental to your overall well-being.

Lack of calories in your diet might make you crave peanut butter as it is a rich source of calories. Peanut butter is rich in carbohydrates as well (22.3g/100grams) which are an important source of energy.

Poor eating habits and not eating enough can also lead to low-calorie consumption. For instance, if you eat a large meal in the morning then starve yourself the rest of the day, your calorie count reduces. You will find yourself craving peanut butter because your energy levels have dwindled, and you need to replenish.

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Stress

When you are stressed, your body often craves food high in calories and rich in fats and protein. Peanut butter is an excellent example of such food. Stress can cause overeating and food cravings.

When you are stressed, your body goes into a fight or flight mode, stimulating hormone production such as cortisol.

This hormone increases your blood sugar levels which in turn forces cells to work twice as hard. Your cells need energy and glucose to function, and this causes your body to send signals to the brain that you are hungry and need to eat.  

These false hunger signals lead you to crave high-calorie foods such as peanut butter. You may wonder why peanut butter is very tempting, especially when you are stressed.

Well, peanut butter has beta-sitosterol, a plant-based sterol that lessens the effects of Cortisol in your body. This explains why you feel better after gulping a few spoonfuls of peanut butter. The chemical beta-sitosterol may also act as an antidepressant.

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Is It Bad To Crave Peanut Butter All The Time? 

Eating peanut butter is not bad. This delightful nutty spread is irresistible, so you may find yourself eating it quite often. Peanut butter is healthy, and you can eat it every day.

However, too much of anything can be harmful, and that applies to peanut butter as well. You may not help craving peanut butter, but you can control how much you eat.

Overeating peanut butter, especially commercial brands, may have some adverse effects on your health. Unlike natural peanut butter, commercial brands may have added trans fats, vegetable oils, and sugar.

Here are some disadvantages of overeating peanut butter.

Read More: Benefits Of Peanuts For Weight Loss

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Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions to peanuts are common. However, it is still not clear why peanuts trigger such a reaction. If you are allergic to peanuts, then eating peanut butter may lead to your body mistakenly identifying peanuts as a harmful substance. Your natural defenses can overreact and cause a severe response.

Symptoms of such an allergic reaction include a runny nose, itchy eyes, and a stomachache. You may even develop hives or anaphylaxis in severe cases.

Too Much Peanut Butter May Prevent You From Hitting Your Weight Loss Goals

Peanut butter is high in calories and fat, the very things you may be trying to avoid in your weight loss journey.

Note that eating a moderate amount of peanut butter is okay since it is a rich source of proteins and fiber that promote the feeling of fullness. You tend to feel fuller for longer if you eat a meal with peanut butter in it.

Nonetheless, too much of it increases your overall fats and calorie intake, thus affecting your weight loss goals. You are likely to gain more weight.

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Inflammation

Overeating peanut butter may lead to inflammation. Peanut butter contains omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids as polyunsaturated fatty acids. For every 100grams of peanut, there is about 12.3g of polyunsaturated fats.

Your daily omega 6 and 3 dietary needs vary depending on your age, sex, and the activities you engage in. That said, to ensure nutritional adequacy, adult males and females only need about 1.6 and 1.1 grams of omega 3 fatty acids per day.

On the other hand, the adequate intake of omega-6 fatty acids per day is about 12 grams for women and 17 grams for men

Although both of these fats are considered essential fats and are great for your heart, an imbalance of them may promote inflammation. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in your body should be between 1:1 and 4:1. Since peanuts contain much more omega-6 than omega-3, having too much peanut butter could upset this balance.

You could potentially suffer from oxidative stress, inflammation, and even clogged arteries if your diet is rich in omega-6 fatty acids and too low in omega-3 fatty acids.

What Does Your Body Need If Craving Peanut Butter?

Why do we get food cravings in the first place? Cravings are your body’s way of communicating that something is lacking. Much as you try to maintain a healthy diet with a balance of all nutrients, there could always be something missing.

For instance, you may wake up craving a peanut butter and apples wrap. This is a delicious breakfast idea, but the thought of it didn’t just crop up out of nowhere. Your body may be trying to tell you something.  

You could be craving peanut butter because you are low on fat, protein, or energy. Stress can also be a reason why you are suddenly craving peanut butter and banana toast.

If you are a vegan, craving peanut butter may mean that your body is low in protein. Luckily, there are ways to help you fight intense peanut butter cravings.

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How To Deal With Food Cravings Such As Peanut Butter?

Here are some practical tips to help you tame your peanut butter cravings.

How To Add More Fat To Your Diet?

A low-fat diet, although great for your weight loss journey, can trigger peanut butter cravings. Adding healthy fats to your diet will not make you fat. In fact, adding these fats to your diet helps you feel more satisfied after a meal, hence reducing hunger and consequently promoting weight loss.

Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, such as those found in peanuts, are healthy fats. In the right amounts, both of these fats help lower cholesterol.

Here are some tips to help you add healthy fats to your diet.

Cook Your Meals With Fat

Steamed vegetables are okay, but they could be better. Add some fat to your meals, and be generous while at itYou only need to ensure that you are using high-quality cooking fats and oils. 

A good suggestion is Canola oil or olive oil which are rich in monounsaturated fats. To beat your cravings, you can even use peanut oil for cooking or dressing your salads.

Vegetable oils such as those from sunflower, sesame seeds, and corn are rich in polyunsaturated fats. Additionally, oils such as flaxseed oil are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower triglycerides.

Avoid trans fats as they will only raise your cholesterol and put you at risk of cardiovascular diseases (7). Trans fats are made when these vegetable oils are hydrogenated and are mostly found in baked goods or foods fried with hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Embrace Products With Fat-Rich Ingredients

It may be time you ditched the low-fat milk for whole milk with full-fat benefits. You can also consider eating foods rich in healthy fats, such as avocados. Avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids having about 6.7g of these acids (3).

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How To Increase Your Protein Intake?

Protein deficiency in your body will make you crave peanut butter. Proteins are responsible for building your muscles and body tissues.

When your protein intake is too low to meet your body’s demand, you may start craving protein-rich foods such as peanut butter.

Apart from having such cravings, lack of protein in your body may also make you have skin problems such as depigmentation (6). It can also make your hair dull and brittle and your nails break easily.

To curb this, you need to up your protein intake. Here are two tips to help you increase your protein intake.

Consider Protein-Rich Snacks

Eating protein-rich snacks in between meals is a great way to improve your protein intake. Snacks such as a Greek yogurt parfait make for excellent protein-rich snacks.  

Greek yogurt is tasty and rich in protein, with an impressive 20 grams of protein for every 224 gram cup serving (4). 

Choose To Eat Your Protein First

When eating, start with your proteins first before moving to other items on your plate. Proteins stimulate Peptide YY (PYY) production, a hormone that makes you feel full, hence decreasing your food intake (1).

Additionally, eating your protein first also increases your metabolic rates after eating and keeps your blood sugar levels in check.

Avoid Stress

A change in diet can only do so much to help you tame your peanut butter cravings. If you don’t de-stress, you may still crave peanut butter, even with the changed diet.

Peanut butter has beta-sitosterol, which helps fight the effect of stress. So, for as long as you are stressed, you will always crave food, and more specifically, comforting foods such as peanut butter.

Here are some tips to help you distress and conquer your insatiable hunger for peanut butter.

Exercise

Exercise is an excellent way to relax your mind and body. It serves to improve your mood and keep you fit at the same time. A brisk walk around the park will help clear your mind and reduce stress.

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Meditate

Sometimes, all you need to do is to take a break from your busy schedule and relax. Meditation and Yoga are great ways to relax and clear your mind. You will also get a chance to reflect and think about other issues, different from the ones stressing you out. Any other forms of self-care that are helpful to you will also work.

You need to be attentive to how your body behaves. If you notice anything unusual, like weird cravings, pay attention as it may be your body’s way of communicating with you.

Are you struggling to achieve better and faster results? Check up this 20 Min Full Body Workout at Home challenge!

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Critical Role of peptide YY in protein (2006,  sciencedirect.com) 
  2.  Diet And Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk (1989, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  3.  Hass avocado composition and potential health effects (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  4. Low, moderate, or high protein yogurt snacks on appetite control and subsequent eating in healthy women (2013, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  5.  Peanuts as functional food: a review (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  6. Skin in protein-energy malnutrition (1987, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  7. Trans fats: Sources, health risks and alternative approach (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Jeremy Mukhwana

Jeremy is a writer and part-time soccer player who is keen on demystifying the matters of fitness, health, and weight loss. His articles are focused on providing factual information and helping readers enjoy their fitness journeys. He understands that wellness is an often misunderstood yet deeply rewarding avenue of improving one’s life, which is why he is so committed to encouraging people to live their healthiest lives through his work. When he’s not typing away at his keyboard, he’s indulging his passion for soccer. The motto that guides Jeremy through his life is  ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world.’

K. Fleming

I am a U.S. educated and trained Registered Dietitian (MS, RD, CNSC) with clinical and international development experience. I have experience conducting systematic reviews and evaluating the scientific literature both as a graduate student and later to inform my own evidence-based practice as an RD. I am currently based in Lusaka, Zambia after my Peace Corps service was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for some meaningful work to do as I figure out next steps. This would be my first freelance project, but I am a diligent worker and quite used to independent and self-motivated work.

Kristen Fleming, MS, RD, CNSC

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