The Real PB&J

Most of us participate in some form of physical activity. We may be avid runners, into extreme sports, outdoor sports, traditional sports, or weightlifting. We have different preferences, but on some level, we are all athletes. The food we eat helps us fuel and recover from everything we take on during the day.  

Every athlete has their go-to, easy to make, great tasting snack or drink that helps them get through their workouts or their day. That could be a PB&J, cold cereal with milk, a sandwich, a bowl of oatmeal or even a smoothie. Everyone is different. I can’t tell you if one is better than the other. 

People always ask me what is bad and what is not? Is popcorn bad? What about chocolate or ice cream? Bacon? Bread? Well, it just depends on what is in it—not what it looks like. For example, healthy ice cream and unhealthy ice cream look the same. 

Ingredients are the key to finding great food to help your performance. PB&J, oatmeal, chocolate milk, and sports drinks are examples of very popular foods among athletes. The best foods for performance are the ones that are also good for your health. Bad, harmful ingredients are detrimental to your health and performance. We can’t know if bread, oatmeal, or milk is healthy by just looking at it. We only know by the ingredients and labels. If you are comfortable eating certain foods, just make sure to clean up the ingredients so you can still enjoy what you love. 

To perform better, you need to eat real food with real ingredients. 

So, you tell me—based on the information you see below, which one is a real peanut butter and jelly sandwich? 

 Bread: 100% Organic whole wheat, water, honey, yeast, salt.  (Aspen Mills Honey Wheat) 

Jelly: Organic Concord grapes. (Eden’s Organic Grape Butter) 

Peanut butter: Roasted peanuts, salt.   



 Bread: Enriched bleached flour [wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2)], water, sugar, contains 2% or less of each of the following: salt, yeast, distilled vinegar, potato flour, cultured wheat flour, soy lecithin, soy flour. (Grandma Sycamore’s) 

Jelly: Concord grape juice, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fruit pectin, citric acid, sodium citrate. 

Peanut butter: Roasted peanuts and sugar, contains 2% or less of: molasses, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean), mono and diglycerides, salt. 



Once we get past what is actually needed for bread, jelly and peanut butter, we have to wonder why we are eating all of the other unnecessary ingredients and what they do in our bodies. Some of the ingredients in a basic PB&J are illegal in most countries in Europe. This type of comparison can be done with all the foods we eat. We can make anything we want healthy. It is all in the production and ingredients. 

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Written by Charles Abouo

Charles Abouo is a professional basketball player in France and is a former BYU student-athlete. He is a certified personal trainer, and developed a passion for health and wellness while majoring in exercise and wellness at BYU. The 2012 BYU graduate played basketball at BYU from 2008-12. He currently plays for ASC Denain Voltaire in France. His hobbies include traveling, reading, writing, anything food, learning new cultures, and spending time with his friends and family.