Is butter good for weight loss? Separating the fact from the false

Butter is a delicious dairy product made by churning milk or cream, usually from cow’s milk. However, there are also other types of butter, made from the milk of goats, sheep, buffaloes or yaks. Butter has a rich, creamy texture and flavor unmatched by any other product, making it the dairy choice of choice for many.

Some people avoid butter because they are “too fatty”, especially if they are on a weight loss diet. But if you eat it 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 the churning of fresh or fermented milk or cream. Dairy-free or plant-based butter made from vegetable oils 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 butterfat is ideal for sautéing, frying, baking recipes and sauces.

Making butter at home is easy and requires only 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. When you’re done, drain the liquid and let it sit. Plus, homemade butter is perfect for a weight loss diet because 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 studies concludes that people should have a variety of dairy products, including high-fat dairy products. 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 high-fat foods, such as butter, while being aware of the amount of fat you are consuming.

From a calorie standpoint, butter may seem like a really bad choice since it contains over 100 calories per tablespoon. However, you have to look beyond just calories. Butter is healthier than a non-dairy spread, which often contains anti-inflammatory refined fats. In addition, homemade butter is more nutritious than processed spreads containing refined sugar and palm oil.

The butter from grass-fed cows contains more omega-3 fats and vitamin E than regular butter. Plus, the carb-free and high-fat nature of butter makes it an excellent addition to a keto-based diet. Bulletproof coffee or butter coffee, for example, 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 avoid any side effects or a caloric surplus. Plus, you’re missing out on essential nutrients as you trade breakfast for buttery coffee. Therefore, combine a tablespoon of butter with a nutritious breakfast.

Salted Butter vs. Unsalted Butter for Weight Loss

There are two types of butter: salted and unsalted. As the name suggests, one is neutral and the other has the salt added. The main advantage of salted butter is its taste. Most people choose salted butter because it tastes better. However, it’s also easy to overeat foods you enjoy.

Unsalted butter is better for weight loss because it doesn’t contain the extra salt that can lead to bloating. A studies shows that higher salt intake is associated with higher body fat mass in children and adults. That’s why it’s best to avoid the salted variety if you’re trying to lose weight.

according to USDAone tablespoon (the standard serving) of salted butter contains the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 102 calories
  • Protein: 0.121g
  • Fat: 11.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.009 g (negligible)
  • Calcium: 3.41mg
  • Potassium: 3.41 mg
  • Sodium: 91.3mg
  • Water: 2.3 gr

according to USDAone tablespoon (the standard serving) of unsalted butter contains the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 102 calories
  • Protein: 0.121g
  • Fat: 11.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.009 g (negligible)
  • Calcium: 3.41mg
  • Potassium: 3.41 mg
  • Sodium: 1.56mg
  • Water: 2.3 gr

It is clear from the nutrition facts above that the sodium content is the only difference between salted and unsalted butter. Nevertheless, note the significant variation in sodium content in both varieties.

The HealthifyMe note

If you’re watching your sodium intake, use unsalted butter. It gives you complete control over the amount of salt you put in your food. In addition, excess salted butter can increase your calorie intake and sodium levels in the body. It can also put you at risk for high cholesterol because of saturated fats. Therefore, 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 that is mainly found in meat and dairy products. While fat may not sound appealing, CLA is good for weight loss.

A studies showed that consuming at least 3.4 grams of CLA daily lowers body fat mass in overweight people. A new studies also says conjugated linoleic acid supports moderate weight loss as 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 feeding the friendly gut bacteria. Having a healthy microbiome makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight.

While consuming butter has some health benefits, you should be mindful of portion size. If you’re still deciding which serving size is right for you, talk to a HealthifyMe nutritionist. They may also suggest alternatives to butter or other foods to help you stay within calorie limits and help you reach 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 things like butter or other foods. It is especially beneficial for people with PCOS, diabetes or prediabetes.

The HealthifyMe note

Butter is fine to consume in moderation. If you use a tablespoon here or there, it shouldn’t get in the way of losing weight. Butter contains conjugated linoleic acid. It is a type of fat that supports some degree of weight loss or fat loss. However, sustainable weight loss always requires an overall balanced diet. You shouldn’t rely on just one food.

Conclusion

A little butter is worth including in your weight loss diet. Don’t be afraid of the fat and calories in moderate amounts of butter. The fresh unsalted butter from grass-fed cows is healthier than other processed spreads that contain refined sugar and other fat fertilizers. While you may not want to give an abundance of butter every meal, you don’t have to cut it out of your diet entirely.

As always, a balanced and consistent diet is key to maintaining a healthy weight. Your diet should contain essential macronutrients such as fats, proteins and carbohydrates depending on your nutritional needs. And butter can be part of that.

The supporting resources

1. Ma Y, He FJ, MacGregor GA. High salt intake: an independent risk factor for obesity? Hypertension. 2015 Oct;66(4):843-9. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.115.05948. Epub 2015 Aug 3. PMID: 26238447.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26238447/

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 December 18, 2017. doi:10.14196/mjiri.31.110

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6014779/

3. United States Department of Agriculture data. Data Type: SR Legacy | Food Category: Dairy and Egg Products | FDC ID: 173410 | NDB number: 1001

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173410/nutrients

4. United States Department of Agriculture data. Data Type: SR Legacy | Food Category: Dairy and Egg Products | FDC ID: 173430 | NDB number: 1145

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173430/nutrients

5. Gaullier JM, Halse J, Høye K, Kristiansen K, Fagertun H, Vik H, Gudmundsen O. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for 24 months is well tolerated and reduces body fat mass in healthy overweight individuals. J Nutr. April 2005; 135(4): 778-84. doi: 10.1093/jn/135.4.778. PMID: 15795434.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15795434/

6. den Hartigh LJ. Effects of conjugated linoleic acid on cancer, obesity and atherosclerosis: a review of preclinical and human trials with current perspectives. Nutrients. Feb 11, 2019;11(2):370. doi: 10.3390/nu11020370. PMID: 30754681; PMCID: PMC6413010.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6413010/

7. Coppola S, Avagliano C, Calignano A, Berni Canani R. The protective role of butyrate against obesity and obesity-related diseases. Molecules. Jan 28, 2021;26(3):682. doi: 10.3390/molecules26030682. PMID: 33525625; PMCID: PMC7865491.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7865491/

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