Protein is a controversial topic in the keto world. I don’t know why it’s controversial, with entrenched camps scattered throughout the nutritional landscape, each one loaded down with advocates and proponents waiting to pounce upon any unsuspecting person who happens to wander into sight of the camp.
Armed with absolutes and directives, insults and ridicule, many of these specific proponents never hesitate to pronounce the mighty invectives of “YOUR PROTEIN IS TOO HIGH!!!” or “YOUR PROTEIN IS TOO LOW!!!” or, sometimes, “I’VE MISPLACED MY KEYS…PROTEIN!!!”
That last one may not be relevant, but I bet you just made a mental check of where your keys are.
Unless you’re driving. If you’re driving, you probably know where your keys are, so you can keep reading this.
Where was I?
Oh, right, protein.
It’s controversial and that puzzles me. But it’s not the only controversial thing that puzzles me. A very close second is peanuts (peanut butter and peanut oil, too, but not PeanutsTM).
So I wanted to talk a little about peanuts and, hopefully, shed some light on the subject, in order to clarify some things.
I have a hard time seeing why peanuts or peanut butter (PPB) is controversial because I have a hard time understanding the strange emotional attachment that seems to be associated with PPB. Look, I enjoyed PB&J sandwiches growing up. My absolute favorite flavor combination is dark chocolate and peanut butter (I have an almost unnatural affinity for the stuff). One of my most disappointing keto moments, early on, was when I tasted natural peanut butter for the first time. I do not care for it.
But I’m a sugar fiend, so, of course I wouldn’t care for the unsugared stuff.
I say all this to make sure you understand where I’m coming from when I say that I don’t understand the emotional attachment. I’m not saying that I don’t like PPB, so therefore nobody should. I’m not saying that YOU shouldn’t like PPB. I’m saying that I LOVE the stuff, but I am baffled by the vitriol and emotionalism associated with the pro-PPB and anti-PPB crowds.
Now, I know that someone reading this is going to interpret what I just said as an, “I’m better than you,” sentiment. So let me just say this: That’s not my intent. I’m simply saying that it seems to me like an unnecessary controversy.
So let’s see if I can fairly capture the warring sides of the PPB difficulty. For the sake of this article, I will assume that the peanut butter in question is natural, non-sugared peanut butter.
It has a low insulin index
It has a low Glycemic Index
It is relatively low in carbs
And I quote: “I don’t have a problem with it, so I’ll keep eating as much as I want and you can, too.”
The omega-3/omega-6 ratio is far from ideal
It is inflammatory
It is a legume, not a nut
And I quote: “PEANUTS ARE THE DEVIL!!!!”
So which group is (more) right?
Well, let’s see:
It has a low insulin index — TRUE
It has a low Glycemic Index — TRUE
It is relatively low in carbs — TRUE
And I quote: “I don’t have a problem with it, so I’ll keep eating as much as I want and you can, too.” — FALSE
The omega3/omega6 ratio is far from ideal — TRUE
It is inflammatory — TRUE
It is a legume, not a nut — TRUE
And I quote: “PEANUTS ARE THE DEVIL!!!!” — FALSE
- Peanuts have an insulin index of 11. Steak has an insulin index of about 35
- Peanuts have a Glycemic Index of 14. Bran fiber has a Glycemic Index of around 30
- Peanuts have 16g total carbs in 100g of peanuts. Almonds have 22g total carbs in 100g of almonds. Macadamia nuts have 14g total carbs in 100g of macadamia nuts
- Peanuts are 33% omega-6 fatty acids (inflammatory), and only contain a trace amount of omega-3 fatty acids(anti-inflammatory). So this would indicate a less-than-ideal lipid profile
- Peanuts are legumes, and this is a problem for strict paleo/primal folks, but not necessarily strict keto folks. Strict paleo/primal folks also don’t eat cheese, but many strict keto people do. Legumes are high in carbs…usually. But, as we’ve seen, peanuts are relatively low in carbs
Okay, so now what? If both sides are right, then who wins?
Nobody. Because this isn’t a competition. This is a way of life. Peanuts don’t need to be some emotional hot button. If you don’t like them, don’t eat them. If you like them, eat them.
But you should refrain from insisting that EVERYONE should like/not like them. It’s not a controversial topic, but I’m afraid that we, as part of our humanity, insist on making things more difficult than they really need to be.
If you like peanuts, and peanuts don’t stop you from reaching your goal, then eat some peanuts. If you don’t like peanuts, or peanuts stop you from reaching your goal, then avoid peanuts.
Also, if you’re allergic to peanuts, don’t eat peanuts. Please. Please don’t eat peanuts if you’re allergic.
When someone asks, say, for example in an awesome Facebook group whether or not peanuts are keto, your response should ALWAYS be something like: Maybe, it depends on you.
So what do I think? Do I think peanuts are keto?
Not for me. I’m much more of a purist. So, yes, peanut butter is one half of my absolute favorite tasting food on the whole planet. But I don’t like the inflammation that I suffered for so many years, so I don’t want to partake of something that could trigger that again. Peanuts are not ideal. There are much better options. But there are FAR worse options to choose, too. And sometimes a 60% solution is the best solution. Life is tricky and we all get one day at a time.
So make the most of it and don’t sweat the small stuff.
After all, it’s just peanuts.