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Cutting is difficult. Due to the focus on consuming a calorie deficit, a lot of food choices are eliminated or reduced in order to hit calorie targets each day. It can be frustrating to see so many popular foods are no longer suitable.
We are often asked about what you can and can’t eat when cutting, and a frequent question is can you eat butter while cutting.
Unfortunately, butter is high in fat and in calories so it doesn’t lend itself well to cutting.
Consistently eating butter each day (or weekly) will make it significantly harder to cut and could undermine the results you want to see.
However, does this mean that it’s impossible to eat butter when cutting, or is there another way?
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Can You Eat Butter While Cutting?
You can eat butter when cutting. However, butter is high in fat and therefore high in calories. This high-calorie content means that most people will struggle to hit their calorie target, and maintain a deficit, if they are eating butter. So, it’s best to avoid or reduce butter intake when cutting.
What is Butter?
Butter is a food that’s made from the fat and protein parts of churned cream. Most commonly, it’s made from cow’s milk although there are also other forms of butter.
Butter is a widely popular food. It’s often used as a spread, used in place of oil when cooking, and it’s a common ingredient in a lot of recipes from cakes to curries.
Butter is high in fat, at around 80%. Not all fats are the same, so it’s important to consider what kind of fat butter is made up of. Primarily, the fat in butter comes from saturated fats.
Although fats are important within a diet, saturated fats have been associated with a risk of health issues such as heart disease. So, saturated fats aren’t the type you would want to consume a lot of.
However, this isn’t to say that butter has no health benefits.
It contains a variety of important nutrients such as Vitamin A, E, and B12 which are important for ensuring overall health.
Therefore, just because you are cutting and aiming to lose body fat, this doesn’t necessarily mean that butter needs to be completely eliminated from your diet. However, it’s something that shouldn’t form a regular or large amount of your diet if you’re cutting.
Per 100g, the nutritional value of butter is:
Butter is calorie-dense, meaning that it packs a lot of calories per gram in comparison to other foods. As I mentioned before, it is also high in fat but low in carbs and protein.
This is something you’ll find with many dairy options when cutting.
While 717 calories is high per 100g it’s unlikely that you would be eating 100g of butter in one sitting (…hopefully!).
It’s more realistic that you would be having 1-2 tablespoons of butter which would be closer to 200 calories as a 30g portion. This 30g portion wouldn’t be as bad in terms of calories.
When considering foods that will fill you up however, you want to consume a large percentage of your meals that have fewer calories per gram. This means they will take longer to eat, longer to digest, and will keep you fuller for longer.
A 30g serving of butter is consumed in seconds and won’t be as satiating or filling as a bowl of salad for example.
How To Eat Butter When Cutting
As I mentioned, a couple of tablespoons is more likely to be what you consume when you have butter.
Whilst this might not seem like a lot, it is going to add a significant amount of calories to whatever you’re having butter with and as a result it will noticeably increase your total calorie intake.
When cutting, counting each calorie is important if you want to ensure a calorie deficit. Therefore, if you do want to have butter when cutting though I’d recommend finding a way to include a small quantity into your daily or weekly diet.
This means that you would need to adjust your diet and take calories from other meals in order to ensure that you maintain an overall deficit.
By only having a small quantity of butter it’s much easier to account for it in your total calorie intake and adjust your diet to adapt.
With this being said though, you might find it easier to simply change to a butter alternative while cutting. Although these alternatives aren’t the same in terms of taste, they are much lower in calories which makes them far more suitable when cutting.
That also isn’t to say that they taste badly!
In the next section, I’ve discussed some of these butter alternatives so that you can decide for yourself what works.
Butter Alternatives When Cutting
There isn’t a direct butter alternative that will necessarily taste the same and be well suited for cutting. Butter alternatives, such as oil, are often still high in calories. So you’ll have to look into other kinds of alternatives.
When it comes to finding a suitable butter replacement it will really depend on what you’re using butter for. If you’re using it when cooking as a kind of oil then an alternative option is a low-calorie spray.
In the UK, there is a brand called Frylight which is only 1 calorie per spray. This can be used when frying foods and doesn’t pack the same amount of calories as using butter would.
Although these come in different flavors, it’s possible to get ones that aren’t flavored so you can season foods to your preferred taste.
If you’re looking for something to use as a spread in place of butter, then I’d recommend hummus. Per 100g, hummus is around 166 calories so it has a much lower calorie content than butter.
If you do decide to have hummus then I’d recommend going for options with reduced fat and low levels of oil. This way you won’t end up consuming a lot of calories.
Hummus is easily purchased in most supermarkets.
Something you might want to avoid as a spread is peanut butter. While this is a good spread when bulking it has many of the same issues as butter. It’s calorie-dense, won’t fill you up, and is a common food that people tend to crave when cutting.
We’ve also looked at this in more detail so check out our article on if you can eat peanut butter when cutting.
Whilst it tastes good, butter is high in fat and high in calories which makes it an unsuitable option when cutting.
Cutting is hard. You want foods that are low in calories and are going to keep you fuller for longer so that you don’t end up with cravings which can be hard to stop on a cut.
Unfortunately, butter is the opposite of that. As it’s calorie-dense, eating just a small amount will add a noticeable amount of calories to your overall intake.
Whilst it does have some nutritional value, butter is high in saturated fats which also makes it a less healthy option.
However, if butter is something you can’t live without, then you should restrict your intake while cutting and make sure you account for it in your daily calorie intake to ensure you maintain a deficit.
It’s also good to look at butter alternatives such as low-calorie frying sprays and spreads like hummus. These make great butter substitutes without packing the same amount of calories.
If you’ve found yourself reaching for butter when cutting, chances are your hunger levels are playing a role in this so check out our guide on how to prevent hunger while cutting.