How PB&Js Became an Athletic Superfood

Andrew Merle
3 min readSep 24, 2022

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I love learning about the eating habits of the best athletes in the world, to understand how top athletes fuel themselves for competition and daily life.

While researching, I was surprised to learn that LeBron James and Sidney Crosby eat the same thing — a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — just before games.

I started wondering if the habit extended among more professional athletes. The answer is a resounding yes.

It turns out that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is the NBA’s secret addiction.

The PB&J was credited as the secret weapon of the 2007–08 Boston Celtics championship season, and then it quickly spread across the rest of the league. Now nearly every NBA team makes PB&J sandwiches readily available to their players.

The Milwaukee Bucks, for example, have been known to scarf down 20–30 PB&Js per game and travel with the ingredients.

It doesn’t stop with the NBA.

MLB legend Derek Jeter ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich an hour before every game and NFL star Rob Gronkowski downed a PB&J before all of his football games as well.

Notorious health fanatic Tom Brady — the greatest football player of all-time — also chooses this for his pre-game meal of choice. Although Brady opts for a slight variation — an almond butter and jelly sandwich. Golfer Dustin Johnson also prefers the almond butter and jelly combo.

If it works for the greatest athletes of all time, there must be something to it.

But why?

The most common explanation is that PB&J is comfort food and the athletes grew up eating it. It is a soothing meal that puts athletes at ease before competition. In that sense, it is a meal that helps achieve peace of mind — a critical component for top performance.

When you feel good, you play well.

Athletes are also notoriously superstitious, so when they hear about a routine that works, they quickly look to gain that edge.

In terms of actual nutrition, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich can be quite healthy. In fact, a study from 2021 concluded that eating a PB&J can add 33 minutes to your life! “Make more PB&Js” even…

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Andrew Merle

Follow me for stories about health, fitness, and nutrition. Read more at andrewmerle.com. Contact me at andrew.merle@gmail.com