The Power of the PB&J

When I returned home following my first high school sports practice I rushed to the kitchen in search of wholesome food that my worn-down body was craving. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I told myself that I would know it when I saw it. Sure enough, I looked into the refrigerator and spotted the peanut putter and jelly, both sitting side-by-side. I proceeded to make myself a sandwich on whole grain bread.

At that time, nothing had ever been so satisfying to me post-workout, so I made it a ritual to eat a PB&J after each practice that year. I didn’t know exactly why I was doing this, however, until my sophomore year in biology when we learned about macromolecules, that I realized it was no coincidence that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were my go-to snack. I realized that three simple ingredients provided the sandwich with adequate amounts of simple sugars for quick energy (jelly), complex carbs for long-term energy (bread) and protein and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium for muscle recovery (peanut butter).

These sandwiched soon became an obsession; I was eating them every day for lunch and an afternoon snack, and even more on days that I had a competition. It turns out that eating them before running a race wasn’t my best idea, because the protein in the peanut butter is taxing on the liver and blood stream while exercising, but through two weeks of this course, I am happy looking back and knowing that peanut butter and jelly was my post-workout food of choice rather than a more unhealthy food.


Athletes tend to be creatures of habit, and some will keep a constant routine for years. When it comes to decisions on what to eat, some choices are made based on nutrition (such as a marathon runner eating pasta the night before a race), while others are made based on superstition (Hall of Fame baseball player Wade Boggs famously ate fried chicken before every game). What are some of your eating habits? Do you have any unusual superstitions when it comes to the foods you eat?

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3 Responses to The Power of the PB&J

  1. spondy12 says:

    cheeky_shots32, my stomach tends to be a little upset when I wake up too, which is why I usually go for a Carnation Instant Breakfast, and maybe some fruit. RockyMountaineer, when I found out a few years ago that chocolate milk is one of the best post-workout drinks, I was ecstatic!

  2. I DO THE SAME THING — especially because it is so easy to take an extra PBJ from the dining halls. I eat a lot per day and I have a busy schedule. So sometimes I have to work out at odd times and snack at times when the dining halls aren’t open. I love having a hearty PBJ on wheat after a workout not only because it tastes good, but as you said, it is great for putting protein back in your body. It has definitely been a staple for me this year. One of my other dietary habits is starting the day with an Odwalla superfood shake. I am not a morning person, in fact I usually wake up with an upset stomach, so it is hard for me to eat before 11am or before a morning race/workout. This shake gives me a kickstart to the day with it’s potassium, carbs, sugars and vitamin C. I feel great when I have it alone or in conjunction with a more solid breakfast meal. It is also low in protein and therefore ideal right before a workout.

  3. Gotta love the old-fashioned PB&J! I had a similar experience when I played sports in high school. I remember finding out that pb&j’s were great recovery food, along with chocolate milk, and it was like my dreams came true! Since I’ve come to Colby and am a two-sport athlete, I feel like I don’t eat them as much! I kind of miss it, but at the same time I’ve been able to find options that are just as good or even better. I’ve veered more toward the vegetables and proteins these days for recovery food as opposed to the classic sandwich, but I think I’m going to start mixing the pb&j back into my diet because I really do love them!

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