What’s the deal with Nutella?

We’re often asked about Nutella?  Is it good for Daily Nutrition, and for Training Nutrition.  Does it have a place?

Here’s what our expert sports nutritionist, Kelli has to say:

For TRAINING NUTRITION, it can have a place. As a high-carb food with mainly natural ingredients, you can use it with pre-training nutrition, during-training nutrition (during long training sessions), or within a post-training recovery snack. For example, a recovery snack of 8 oz. plain yogurt + 1 Tbsp Nutella + 1 Tbsp organic coconut oil (300 calories, 10 grams protein, 23 grams of carbs, and Medium Chain Triglycerides from coconut oil) isn’t a bad way to go, as long as you can control your portion of Nutella. For recovery, one goal in eating carbs is to replenish glycogen stores, and another is to give your energy-burning body a fuel source that’s not muscle. Recovery can be a good opportunity to eat a small portion of high-sugar foods that you don’t normally eat, but love.

For DAILY NUTRITION, not so much.  And, I really hate to do it as it happens to be something that tastes really good. Anyone who’s ever tried Nutella can tell-ya that it’s super yummy.

The problem?

Really, it’s not so much a hazelnut spread as a sugar spread. In fact, sugar is it’s #1 ingredient. Followed by palm oil. Then hazelnuts, cocoa, and skim milk (of course, it’s these ingredients that are advertised most on the packaging).

Protein? Just 3 grams (compared to 6-8 grams in peanut butter). Sugars? A whopping 21 grams (equivalent of more than 4 tsp per serving). What really gets me, is the recommedation on the label to eat it with a glass of skim milk, a glass of orange juice, and a slice of whole wheat bread for a balanced breakfast – since when is 80+ grams of carbs (mostly sugar) with 14 grams of protein balanced?

I will point out that it is free of hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup – so, it could be worse. But instead, choose a natural nut butter, or even Peanut Butter & Company’s Dark Chocolate Dreams (12 grams carbs and 6 grams protein) for daily nutrition.

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.


  • http://twitter.com/fuelright Kelli Jennings

    @ Ashley & Julesmpg, yes, I know, it’s good.  And post-ride, it can still work.  It’s just not a good choice for Daily Nutrition.  And, I feel it’s important to point it out mostly because it’s a bit deceiving – it’s more similar to jelly than to peanut butter, considering it’s high sugar and low protein. 
    Kelli, RD

  • http://julesmpg.blogspot.com Julesmpg

    I just like to eat a spoonful a day. Very rarely I indulge in a PB and Nutella sandwich after a workout. I will have to try the PB you suggested.

  • http://twitter.com/ashleyhdesign Ashley Hill

    Awww but I love Nutella! I usually put it in my smoothies post ride.

    - Ashley

  • http://keithmo.com/ Keith Moore

    You can always make your own and tweak the ingredients as you see fit. 
    http://www.nutmegnanny.com/2012/04/09/homemade-nutella/ looks like a good recipe (but I haven’t actually tried it yet).

    • http://twitter.com/fuelright Kelli Jennings

      Hi Keith – thanks for the link, I’ll check it out.  There’s definitely a lot of recipes for it out there. The ones similar to nutella tend to have loads of sugar. The ones similar to PB & Co. chocolate peanut butter are better nutritionally, but I haven’t found a recipe that captures the magic they put in that bottle!
      Thanks again!  Kelli, RD