Butter is a delicious dairy product made by churning milk or cream, most often from cow milk. However, other varieties of butter, made from the milk of goats, sheep, buffalo, or yaks, are also available. Butter has a rich, creamy texture and flavour unmatched by any other product, making it the preferred dairy choice by many.
Some people avoid butter for being “too fatty”, especially when they’re on a weight loss diet. But if eaten in moderation, butter can be relatively healthy. In addition, the stigma around butter is slowly changing as people now see it as a healthier alternative to other spreads.
Butter: An Overview
Butter comes from churning fresh or fermented milk or cream. Dairy-free or plant-based butter made from plant-derived oil is also available for vegans. At room temperature, butter softens to a smooth, spreadable consistency. You can use it as a spread, condiment, or cooking ingredient. The butter fat is ideal for sautéing, frying, baking recipes, and sauces.
Making butter at home is easy and only requires a few simple ingredients. All you need is high-quality, low-calorie cream and a blender or mixer. Just combine the cream and let it mix for about seven minutes. Once done, pour off the liquid and let it sit. Moreover, homemade butter is perfect for a weight loss diet since you can control the total calories and ingredients.
Is Butter Good for Weight Loss?
Most weight loss diets include butter and other high-fat foods as sparingly as possible. People often believe that eliminating fat is the only way to be healthy. However, there may be better choices than this.
A study concludes that people should have various dairy products, including high-fat dairy. The results also show that dairy fat intake within the range of the recommended calorie limit is not a risk factor for weight gain. Therefore, you can still enjoy some fat-rich foods, like butter, while being conscious of the amount of fat you consume.
From a calorie standpoint, butter may look like a really bad option since it has over 100 calories per tablespoon. However, you have to look beyond just calories. Butter is healthier than a non-dairy spread, which often contains inflammatory refined fats. Plus, homemade butter is more nutritious than processed spreads with refined sugar and palm oil.
The butter from grass-fed cows has more omega-3 fats and vitamin E than regular butter. Furthermore, butter’s carb-free and high-fat nature make it an excellent addition to a keto-based diet. For instance, bulletproof coffee or butter coffee is a popular high-calorie keto drink.
Some people drink butter coffee to delay hunger during intermittent fasting for weight loss. However, drink it in moderation to prevent any side effects or a caloric surplus. Plus, you can miss out on essential nutrients while swapping out breakfast for buttery coffee. Therefore, pair a tablespoon of butter with a nutrient-dense breakfast.
Salted Butter vs Unsalted Butter for Weight Loss
There are two types of butter: salted and unsalted.As the name suggests, one is bland while the salt is added to the other variety. The main advantage of salted butter is its flavour. Most people choose salted butter because it tastes better. However, it is also easy to overeat food that you like.
Unsalted butter is better for weight loss since it does not have the extra salt that could lead to bloating. A study shows that higher salt intake is related to higher body fat mass in children and adults. Therefore, it is best to avoid the salted variety when trying to lose weight.
According to USDA, one tablespoon (the standard serving) of salted butter contains the following nutrients:
Calories: 102 caloriesProtein: 0.121 gFat: 11.5 gCarbohydrates: 0.009 g (negligible)Calcium: 3.41 mgPotassium: 3.41 mgSodium: 91.3 mgWater: 2.3 g
According to USDA, one tablespoon (the standard serving) of unsalted butter contains the following nutrients:
Calories: 102 caloriesProtein: 0.121 gFat: 11.5 gCarbohydrates: 0.009 g (negligible)Calcium: 3.41 mgPotassium: 3.41 mgSodium: 1.56 mgWater: 2.3 g
From the above nutritional facts, it is clear that sodium content is the only difference between salted and unsalted butter. Nonetheless, pay attention to the considerable variation of sodium levels in both varieties.
The HealthifyMe Note
If you are watching your sodium intake, use unsalted butter. It gives you complete control over the amount of salt you put in your meal. Furthermore, excess salted butter can increase your caloric intake and sodium level in the body. It might also put you at risk of high cholesterol due to saturated fats. Hence, unsalted butter is the better choice for weight loss.
Benefits of Butter for Weight Loss
Butter contains a type of fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). It is a fat primarily seen in meat and dairy products. Even though fat might not sound appealing, CLA is good for weight loss.
One study showed that consuming at least 3.4 grams of CLA each day decreases body fat mass in overweight people. A new study also says that conjugated linoleic acid supports moderate weight loss when part of a healthy diet.
Butter contains butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid. It has 3% to 4% butyric acid, making butter the richest dietary source of butyrate. Research shows that butyric acid is beneficial for weight loss. It works by nourishing the friendly gut bacteria. When you have a healthy microbiome, it becomes easier to maintain a healthy weightt.
While some health benefits come with consuming butter, be mindful of the portion size. If you are still determining what portion size is right for you, talk to a nutritionist at HealthifyMe. They can also suggest alternatives to butter or any other food to help you stay within calorie limits and assist you in achieving your goal.
HealthifyPRO offers CGMs (Continuous Glucose Monitors) to help record your glucose level patterns. These CGMs send alerts if your glucose levels get too high or too low after eating something like butter or other food. It is particularly beneficial for people with PCOS, diabetes, or prediabetes.
The HealthifyMe Note
While in moderation, butter is perfectly fine to consume. If you use a tablespoon here or there, it should not interfere with weight loss. Butter contains conjugated linoleic acid. It is a type of fat that supports some degree of body weight or adiposity loss. However, sustainable weight loss will always require an overall balanced diet. You should not just rely on one food item.
A little butter is worth including in your weight loss diet. You do not need to fear the fat and calories in moderate amounts of butter. The fresh unsalted butter from grass-fed cows is healthier than other processed spreads containing refined sugar and other fattening additives. While you may not want to include an abundance of butter in every meal, there is no need to eliminate it from your diet entirely.
As always, a well-balanced and consistent diet is key to maintaining a healthy weight. Your diet should include essential macronutrients like fats, proteins, and carbs according to your dietary needs. And butter can be a part of it.
The Supporting Sources
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2. Soltani S, Vafa M. The dairy fat paradox: Whole dairy products may be healthier than we thought. Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2017;31:110. Published 2017 Dec 18. doi:10.14196/mjiri.31.110
3. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: SR Legacy | Food Category: Dairy and Egg Products | FDC ID: 173410 | NDB Number: 1001
4. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: SR Legacy | Food Category: Dairy and Egg Products | FDC ID: 173430 | NDB Number: 1145
5. Gaullier JM, Halse J, Høye K, Kristiansen K, Fagertun H, Vik H, Gudmundsen O. Supplementation with conjugated linoleic acid for 24 months is well tolerated by and reduces body fat mass in healthy, overweight humans. J Nutr. 2005 Apr;135(4):778-84. doi: 10.1093/jn/135.4.778. PMID: 15795434.
6. den Hartigh LJ. Conjugated Linoleic Acid Effects on Cancer, Obesity, and Atherosclerosis: A Review of Pre-Clinical and Human Trials with Current Perspectives. Nutrients. 2019 Feb 11;11(2):370. doi: 10.3390/nu11020370. PMID: 30754681; PMCID: PMC6413010.
7. Coppola S, Avagliano C, Calignano A, Berni Canani R. The Protective Role of Butyrate against Obesity and Obesity-Related Diseases. Molecules. 2021 Jan 28;26(3):682. Doi: 10.3390/molecules26030682. PMID: 33525625; PMCID: PMC7865491.