Peruse the nut butter department at your local grocery store. You’ll be confronted with a plethora of options. Classic peanut, almond, cashew, and even granola (what?!). You want to choose the option that’s right for you and your wellness goals. The option that will nourish your body and offer the energy you need to best complete your workouts. Therefore, you’ll need to prep a nutritional wishlist.
For a nutritionist’s take on the great nut butter debate, we spoke with Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table, and next-level almond butter fan. “You’re looking to put something on a piece of bread that you can take with you [and] not have to refrigerate … whether it’s for travel, a snack, or … lunch or breakfast. You’re not necessarily going to have a protein food that you have to cook or eat,” Taub-Dix says. “So in that case, nut butters can be decadent and delicious.” Read along for her top three recommendations to add the best choice to your shopping cart.
Fueling yourself before your Aaptiv workout is important, and make sure you’re properly hydrated as well!
Read the nutrition label.
According to Taub-Dix, the first order of business should be to study the nutrition label. “First and foremost is that the ingredients contain the nut … I try to choose nut butters that don’t have a lot of other things added that would be ingredients you wouldn’t necessarily want—like salt and sugar,” she explains. Ideally, if you choose an almond butter, the one and only ingredient should be almonds.
Next up, scan the calorie, sugar, and protein contents. Taub-Dix advises buying a butter with 180-200 calories, zero (yes, zero) grams of sugar, and six to eight grams of protein per serving.
Although you may cringe at the prospect of eating 200 calories in just two tablespoons of peanut butter, Taub-Dix says that as long as you’re not exceeding the recommended amount (aka, eating your PB like ice cream), the calorie count shouldn’t intimidate you. “No, it’s not low in calories, but that’s all relative. If you’re going to pile up your sandwich with pastrami and everything else … that’s not a low-calorie sandwich either,” she points out. “In that case, [nut] butter is looking like a real bargain of calories.”
Get familiar with which ingredients make the butter more nutritious.
If you tend to frequent supermarkets such as Trader Joe’s, you may have noticed that supercharged nut butters are everywhere. Flax, chia, and hemp seeds have become regular additions for a crunchy, plant-based boost of extra protein. If you’ve been craving more texture in your morning almond butter and banana toast, Taub-Dix says to go for it.
While seeds are A-OK, she does recommend avoiding butters that use coconut oil as their base and thus contain extra saturated fat. “If you love the coconut flavor, then I’d just buy some shredded coconut [and] sprinkle some of that on your nut butter. You’ll enjoy it so much more. You’ll also get the texture of coconut and not just the flavor of the coconut oil,” Taub-Dix says.
Buy flavored nut butters only to make unhealthy foods healthier.
Alongside seed- and coconut oil-infused nut butters, you’ll likely see an array of tempting dessert-style options, including maple and chocolate. For the most part, Taub-Dix advises avoiding these—with one caveat. “The maple-flavor almond butter could taste fantastic swirled in your oatmeal, for example. That flavor of the almond butter may prevent you from putting sugar on your oatmeal,” she says. In other words, if you’re looking to satiate your sweet tooth, a butter flavored with maple is a much better option than a few scoops of refined sugar.
A healthy diet is only half the equation to a healthy lifestyle. Make sure you’re incorporating exercise with Aaptiv into your routine.