This article was originally published on Women’s running.
Do you remember as a kid being called inside after an afternoon of running outside for a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich (PB&J, for those in the know) and a glass of cold milk? Whichever way you took it – cut crusts, white bread, wheat bread, more peanut butter than jelly – it tasted like pure, unadulterated love.
Somewhere along the way, we ditched our beloved PB&Js for a more diverse lunch menu filled with chickpea salads, tuna paninis, and spinach smoothies. And while introducing nutrient-dense foods was key to growing into adulthood, it’s time to look back and recognize that PB&Js are a totally underrated running snack.
The nutritional breakdown of a PB&J
Let’s tackle the elephant in the room (who, coincidentally, would probably like the PB&Js). This beloved sammy may be poorly packaged because it contains unhealthy and highly processed ingredients, but there are so many quality PB&J materials available today that you may feel good whipping one up before or after a long run. coaching.
Unsurprisingly, there are three ingredients in a PB&J. The bread, the Peanut Butter, and jelly. Cool. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the good options.
For years, shoddy “science” and cultural panic over gluten have labeled bread as “bad carbs.” However, studies show that whole-wheat bread may not only be part of a healthy diet, but may also reduce the risk of heart disease in adults. Indeed, whole grains contain essential vitamins like fiber, vitamin B, zinc, iron, etc. Plus, as runners, we know how important carbs are. A study 2022 tracked the eating habits of runners and found that those who ate whole grains rather than regular grains (white bread, white pasta, cereal) saw improvements in their runs.
It’s always a good idea to have a bit of skepticism when looking at breads in the grocery aisle. Just because the package says “Whole Grain” doesn’t mean it’s a good choice for your PB&J. Look for the 100% stamp Whole Grain Councilwhich is a trusted third-party verifier.
You’ll also want to choose a bread that’s low in sugar (stick to six grams or less) and high in fiber.
Here are some examples of breads that meet these requirements:
5g of protein
22g of carbohydrates
5g of sugar
4g of protein
18g of carbohydrates
2g of sugar
did you know is there a difference between jelly and jam? Jelly is made from pressed fruit or fruit juice, while jam is made from fruit puree. Although the nutritional value of the two is similar, their textures may dictate your preference. Jam often contains chunks of fruit, while jelly is smooth.
The jelly contains simple carbohydrates and sugars, which runners love because of its ease of digestion and quick energy boost. Unfortunately, jelly can be high in added sugar and high fructose syrup, so it’s best to keep an eye on the nutrition label when selecting this key sandwich component. That being said, sugar-free jelly is often made with artificial sugar substitutes, which can cause digestive stress for some people.
You want to find a jelly made with natural sweeteners and little to no additives.
8g of carbohydrates
8g of sugar
9g of carbohydrates
8g of sugar
An equally sticky and delicious ingredient from PB&J is one that many people steer clear of when trying to be health conscious. But don’t be afraid! Peanut butter can be a great source of protein and healthy fats, both essential for post-run recovery.
Some peanut butter brands often add unnecessary additives and sweeteners to their products. Ideally, your choice should contain one ingredient: peanuts. It’s easy, right? Look for natural peanut butters and don’t worry about oils on a fresh jar. Simply stir before serving.
8g of protein
5g of carbohydrates
8g of protein
7g of carbohydrates
Raising your PB&J
While we stick to the humble, original PB&J combination, there are plenty of ways for you as a rider to elevate your sandwich. For post-runs, you can add banana slices for an extra dose of potassium and sprinkle flax seeds on top for healthy fats and extra fiber. If you’re more focused on quick, simple carbs before a run, substitute whole-grain bagels for bread instead.
For the more daring runners, try adding a splash of sriracha over jelly and peanut butter. The heat cuts well with the sweet jelly, and when combined with peanut butter, it tastes like Thai-inspired cooking. Yum.
Blueberry Chia Homemade Jam
1 cup frozen blueberries
½ tsp. chia seeds
1-2 tbsp. water
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add blueberries, chia seeds and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture takes on a jam-like texture, about 10 minutes.