Is Butter a Carb?

“Is butter a carb?!”

One of the famous lines in the 2004 film Mean Girls brings up the fact that there are several nutrition misconceptions out there. Let’s try to get to the bottom of the butter debate! To better understand this, let’s look at some nutrition basics.

Foods supply energy to us in the form of three main nutrients; carbohydrates, protein and fats. Carbohydrates are mainly sugars and starches that break down in the body to simple sugar, or glucose. Glucose is a main fuel that the body uses to carry out daily functions and gives us energy. Foods that we eat which contain protein help to build and repair cells and tissues in the body. Protein is an important part of our bones, muscles, skin and blood. Fats are an essential nutrient we need to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K and also provide energy for the body. Fats help flavor foods and keep us full and satisfied.

Back to the butter…

Butter is a dairy product made by churning milk or cream. This separates the fat (solids) from the buttermilk, which is the liquid. The fat, or butter, is of course what is known to be spread on things like toast and added to the top of our baked potatoes. The nutrition facts of one tablespoon of butter = 102 calories, 11.5 grams fat (7 grams saturated fat; 4.5 grams unsaturated fat), 0 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams protein.

As you can see, butter contains no carbohydrate and no protein, but it does contain fat. It IS a fat! Remember it is made from separating milk or cream into solid and liquid, and the solid fat is our butter. It is a saturated fat, so we do need to keep our portions in mind.

Butter is not a carb, but it can be part of a healthy, balanced diet along with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy products.

There is also a “butter vs. margarine” debate, which we can look at in a different post :)