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The NBA’s Secret Obsession with Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

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Among the many possible secret obsessions of NBA athletes, it’s unlikely that anyone would think peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are among them. And yet with little fanfare, PB&Js have become a locker room staple for multiple teams in the league for over a decade. Coaches and team nutritionists have been scratching their heads as to why an article of comfort food is so popular among some of the highest-paid athletes on Earth.

One reason for the PB&Js popularity is that calorie-dense foods that are high in fats, sugars, starches, proteins, and salts trigger both dopamine and serotonin releases in humans. Any food that gives rushes of energy and happiness is an obvious boon to professional athletes, and those same foods also lower the body’s heart rate.

In other words, PB&Js a unique combination of performance enhancer and comfort food. Ironman Sports Medicine Institute dietician Brett Singer says they give players “peace of mind,” in keeping with the sports adage of “you feel good, you play well.” Considering how much travel the average NBA player does in a season, and how stressful that can be on their bodies, it makes sense that they’d crave something as reliable and simple as a daily PB&J.