Is Butter Keto-Friendly?

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Written by Rahul Malpe, Certified Nutritionist and medically reviewed by Jennifer Olejarz

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When you embark upon a keto diet journey, you'll be confronted with a variety of food choices that can be overwhelming.

The key to achieving a healthy diet is taking in plenty of fats from whole foods, but you should also optimize your cooking style. Choosing the right cooking oil and spread can impact not just your macros, but also your overall health.

Butter is a popular product. Today, we’ll be exploring if it is keto-approved. 

Additionally, we’ll examine the nutritional content and answer any questions you may have, such as are you allowed to consume it and at what amount? What kind is permitted? And what foods may be consumed with it? Furthermore, are there any other options that are low-carb? Let's find out.


What is butter?

It’s a dairy product made from the fat and protein in milk. It's typically used as a spread or a condiment, and it's also a key ingredient in many recipes.

It’s made by separating the solid fats from the liquid whey in milk. This process is called churning, and it can be done by hand or with a machine. The resulting product is about 80% fat and 20% water. 

The water content can vary depending on the type of butter, but it's generally around 15%. Butter that has a higher fat content is known as clarified butter or ghee. It's made by heating butter to remove the water and milk solids, leaving behind only the pure fat. 

It has been a staple in kitchens around the world for centuries, and its popularity shows no signs of waning. Whether you're using it to make a batch of cookies or simply spreading it on your morning toast, there's no doubt that it makes food taste better.


Butter nutrition facts

One tablespoon of this spread contains the following nutrients:

Serving size: 14 g (1 tablespoon ) 

  • Calories: 102 kcal
  • Fat: 11.5 g
  • Total carbs: 0 g
  • Net carbs: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 0.1 g

The fat in it makes up 80% of its weight, and the rest consists mostly of water. It is a fat extracted from milk that has been separated from proteins and carbohydrates. 

It contains more than 400 different types of fatty acids, making it among the most complex of all dietary fats. The amount of saturated fatty acids in it is quite high, around 63%, while the monounsaturated fatty acids are relatively low, about 25%.

A small proportion of polyunsaturated fat is present as well, which represents approximately 3.8% of the total fat content. It also contains phospholipids and cholesterol.




Can you have butter on a keto diet?

Yes, you can absolutely consume it on a keto diet. Any kind of pure fat-rich spread can usually be enjoyed when you're following a ketogenic or low-carb diet. This spread is one of the most popular choices for this lifestyle, along with olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil.

However, it is important to consume it in moderation, as too much can lead to weight gain, clogged arteries, and heart problems.

When used in moderation, it can be a delicious and nutritious addition to a keto diet.


How much butter on the keto diet can you have?

One tablespoon of this equals one serving. It contains 0.009 g of carbs, much less than anyone's permissible carb limit.

Going with that you can go up to 3 tablespoons in a day depending upon what you are cooking or eating it with. However, it is important to note that people looking to lose weight might need to be mindful of how much butter they are consuming. 

Although it has a negligible amount of carbs, its calorie count is on the higher side, especially when consumed in large amounts. Getting all the nutrients your body needs should be the top priority, regardless of the type of diet you are following.

Consuming excessive amounts of it will deprive the body of all the health benefits that are associated with other fat-rich foods. You can enjoy healthy fats from a variety of sources while on keto, such as avocado, olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.


What kind of butter can you have on keto?

Although most of us are accustomed to using the original plain type, the market has a wide range of varieties. Here are some varieties.

  • Sweet cream - It is made from sweet cream or milk that has not been tainted by contact with cows' skin or hair. 
  • Clarified - is a type of spread in which the milk solids have been removed, leaving only the pure butterfat. 
  • Grass-fed- It is made from milk that comes from cows that have been fed a diet of mostly grass.
  • Nut butter - It is made from nuts, such as peanuts or almonds. It is a popular spread for toast and can also be used in baking. They are usually high in protein and healthy fats.
  • Amish - It is another type of dairy that is made in a similar way to goat butter. However, it often has a stronger flavor due to the addition of different spices. 
  • Goat butter - It is a type of product made from the milk of goats. It has a similar consistency to cow's and can be used in the same way. However, it has a slightly different flavor that some people enjoy.



What can you have this spread with?

There are a variety of things you can have with it on a keto diet. It can be used to cook eggs, make pan-fried fish, or create a sauce for steak. 

It also goes well with vegetables. Try using it to sauté garlic, then add some lemon juice and use as a dipping sauce for artichokes. Butter, garlic, and lemon juice is also a great combination to cook asparagus, fish, or chicken, or toss with zucchini noodles. 

Another idea is to use it to sauté onion and/or garlic, add mushrooms, and stir in cream for a creamy and buttery mushroom sauce.


Keto-friendly butter alternatives

For those on a ketogenic diet, a buttery spread can be a delicious ingredient. However, it can be expensive, and it's not always easy to find keto-friendly alternatives. Here are a few ideas for keto-friendly substitutes that can save you money and help you stick to your diet.

  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil is a great alternative for those on a ketogenic diet. It's high in healthy fats and provides a rich, creamy texture that is perfect for baking or cooking. Coconut oil is solid at colder temperatures and has a high smoking point. It is also relatively inexpensive, making it a great budget-friendly option. 
  • Ghee: Ghee is another keto-friendly alternative. Ghee is made by removing the milk solids from butter, which makes it lactose-free. It has a nutty flavor that pairs well with savory dishes. It's also a good choice for those who are sensitive to dairy products.
  • Lard:  If you're following a keto diet, lard, or rendered pork fat, is an excellent option. A lot like dairy fat, this ingredient contributes to the flavor, crispiness, flakiness, and tenderness of baked goods, but it possesses a much stronger flavor. As well as being able to simmer, sauté, and make sauces, bacon mayonnaise can also be made using lard.
  • Avocado oil: Avocado oil is another healthy fat that can be used in place of dairy. It has a mild flavor that won't overpower other ingredients. It's also packed with nutrients like vitamin E and healthy fatty acids. Cooking or baking with avocado oil is easy, and it can also be used to make salad dressings or as a condiment.


FAQ about butter on keto

Here's some additional information to help you determine whether you can include this food in your ketogenic diet or not.

It’s a delicious and easy-to-make Indian-inspired recipe that is perfect for anyone on the keto diet. The recipe uses chicken thighs, which are cooked in a rich and creamy sauce made with coconut milk, tomato paste, and spices. Butter adds richness and depth of flavor to the dish, while onions and garlic provide a subtle sweetness. This recipe is low in carbs and high in fat, making it an ideal meal for those on the keto diet. Best of all, a keto butter chicken recipe can be made in under 30 minutes, making it a great option for busy weeknight dinners.

Yes, when eaten in moderation. It’s a good source of healthy fats, including saturated fats, which are important for a variety of health purposes including balancing hormones, supporting brain function, and reducing inflammation. It also contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), a type of fatty acid that has been shown to reduce body fat and improve immune function.

There are a number of different brands available in the market. Including the following.

  • Kerrygold:  It is a grass-fed version that is widely available in grocery stores. It has a rich, creamy texture and a yellow color due to the high beta-carotene content of the cows' diet. 
  • Plugra: This is another grass-fed type that has a higher butterfat content than Kerrygold, making it slightly richer and creamier. 
  • Brummel & Brown: It is a non-dairy alternative made with plant-based oils. It has a similar taste and texture to margarine, but with less saturated fat.

The glycemic index does not include butter since it has a negligible amount of carbs. Glycemic indexes do not apply to foods that don’t contain carbohydrates because they won't directly affect blood sugar levels. 

Yes, your body should be able to digest it without any problems. Our digestive system is designed to break down all sorts of food, from the simplest carbohydrates to the most complex proteins. However, some types of food are easier to digest than others. 

For example, simple carbohydrates like sugar are quickly broken down into smaller molecules that can be easily absorbed by the body. In contrast, fats take longer to digest because they must be emulsified before they can be absorbed. Since butter is rich in fats, it may take longer to digest than other types of food.

In theory, grass-fed means that the product is made from the milk of cows that eat grass (their natural food source) instead of corn and grains. 

In reality, the USDA does not have a federal standard for requirements that must be met in order to label a product as “grass-fed.” Companies just have to submit paperwork for the right to use this language, and there are no visits or audits to make sure that the claim is valid.

So, you can’t always trust the label. There are independent NGOs that actually inspect facilities and operations, such as the American Grassfed Association, so look for these types of certifications rather than just the words “grass-fed” on the label.

Research suggests that products made from the milk of grass-fed cows have more health benefits, and they are often more expensive. However, keep in mind that even grass-fed butter should be eaten in moderation due to the saturated fat content.


More keto-friendly dairy products