Fats on the Keto Diet: Coconut Oil vs Butter

The Keto diet is a high-fat diet with a focus on healthy plant-based fats. Both butter and coconut oil are allowed on Keto but you might be wondering which one is better? The following article will help you to decide which is right for your Keto meal plan by highlighting the positives of each alongside the differences and potential downsides.

Butter

Butter is a dairy product; however, it only contains a trace amount of the lactate (or milk sugar) that’s found in other dairy products. Instead, it’s over 80% fat with no carbohydrates to speak of. It’s made from churring milk cream until the solid fats are separated from the liquid ones. Butter is made from combining butterfat, milk solids and water. It’s a fantastic fat source for the Keto diet. Grass-fed butter is the best option for Keto if you can find it. Try to avoid grain-fed butter. This is less about the carb counts and more about the beneficial ingredients that are found in butter.

There’s a lot more of Omega 3’s and Vitamin K to be found in grass-fed butter than there is in grain-fed butter. In addition, grass-fed butter contains a substance known as CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) that’s been known to help in the loss of fat. Although grain-fed butter has CLA as well, there’s 5 times more CLA found in grass-fed butter. Because the Keto diet relies on turning fats into ketones, any substance that helps you burn fat will be a great addition to your Keto! 

Nutrition

Butter is a surprisingly rich source of nutrition. There are several essential nutrients and vitamins that can be found in butter. In the average 100g serving of butter, you can be sure to find the following nutrients.

  • 18.8mg of choline
  • 24 mg of calcium
  • 2.32mg of sodium
  • 23.43g of monounsaturated fats
  • 3.01g of polyunsaturated fats
  • 50.6 g of saturated fats
  • 24mg of phosphorus
  • 2499IU of Vitamin A (that’s a whopping 50% of your daily Vitamin A from 100g of butter!)
  • 3.23mg of Vitamin E
  • 0.17mcg of Vitamin B12
  • 214mg of cholesterol
  • 7mcg Vitamin K
  • 0.32g of Omega 3
  • 2.17g of Omega 6

Benefits

There are several benefits to butter when you’re on Keto. As mentioned above, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) makes up part of the fats in butter. This compound has been shown to reduce obesity as well as lower your risk of developing certain cancers. In addition to CLA, butter also contains a short-chain fatty acid known butyrate. This fatty acid is essential to the health of your gut. It can help with symptoms of IBS and Chrons disease as well as reducing any inflammation that you may have in your bowels. Butyrate plays an important role in providing energy to the cells of your intestines.

There are so many great nutrients to be found in butter. You can get 50% of your daily Vitamin A content from 100g of butter (although I’d recommend that you stick to a smaller serving such as 1-2 tablespoons). You can also find Vitamin K, which is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential to helping your blood to clot as well as maintaining the health of your bones. There have also been studies done that show that eating butter may help lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

When it comes to fats, butter is one of the cheapest options around and you can find it anywhere you live whether you’re shopping in a food market, a grocery store or even a corner or variety store. This makes it a great option for anyone who doesn’t live in a major city as well as for anyone who’s looking to fill their daily fat requirements for Keto that’s on a tight budget. Because you need so little butter to reap amazing benefits, a little goes a long way! 

Downsides

So, if butter is so great for you, why has it had a bad rap over the years? Are there any downsides to this Keto-friendly fat? The short answer is, yes. When you’re on Keto your aim is to consume healthy fats. This means focusing on monounsaturated, unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats have been shown to increase your HDL levels (good cholesterol) while lowering your LDL levels (bad cholesterol). This has many health benefits, especially for your heart and arteries and a diet rich in the right types of fats can help prevent heart disease.

As you may have noticed from the nutrition information; although butter is over 80% fat, there’s 50.6g of saturated fats in every 100g of butter. That’s a little over half of the butter being made up of saturated fats. Saturated fats have been known to increase your risk of heart disease and blood clots. This is why large quantities of butter can potentially be dangerous to your health.

However, the key here is large amounts. If you keep your serving of butter to 1-2tbsp a day then you’ll be limiting the number of unhealthy fats you eat as well as reaping the benefits that butter can provide. If you want to eat butter on the Keto diet it’s recommended that you mix it in with some other plant-based healthy fats that are lower in saturated fat.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is made from the meat and kernel of the coconut. It’s caught the attention of the media over the last several years and is touted as being a miracle food that can help you with all sorts of health issues from your heart health to weight loss all the way to the health of your skin, nails and hair. Whether or not coconut oil is the miracle food it’s claimed to be is still under debate; however, one thing that is for sure is that it’s a great addition to your Keto diet! 

Nutrition

Coconut oil is 100% pure fat that’s been sourced from plants. It doesn’t contain the same range of nutrients that butter does. The average 100g serving of coconut oil contains the following:

  • 0.3mg of choline
  • 1 mg calcium
  • 0.11mg of sodium
  • 6.332g of monounsaturated fats
  • 1.702g of polyunsaturated fats
  • 82.475g of saturated fats

As you would expect from an oil that’s 100% fat, the majority of the nutrition information is just a breakdown of the various fats. Although coconut oil isn’t rich in nutrients, the fats that make it up can help your body absorb the nutrients from the foods that you eat. Fat-soluable vitamins such as vitamins A, E, K and D are more easily absorbed when you pair them with a dietary fat such as coconut oil. So drizzle a little bit of coconut oil on your carrots, pop them in the oven and enjoy a crispy nutrient boost! 

Benefits

Despite not having the same nutrient profile as butter, there are still health benefits that come from eating coconut oil while on Keto. Like butter, coconut oil also contains CLA in its fats. Eating foods rich in CAL might help you lower your risk of obesity as well as your risk of developing cancer.

Coconut oil is also a great source of lauric acid. Lauric acid is a type of fatty acid and it’s been shown to help improve cognitive function. Lauric acid has also been shown to reduce your risk of getting prostate cancer and reduces your chances of getting an enlarged prostate. There are also some claims that coconut oil has anti-microbial properties. These claims come from the fact that coconut oil contains lauric acid. When your body digests lauric acid it creates a substance known as monolaurin which can help kill off fungus, bacteria and viruses.

The other health claims such as improving your teeth, skin and nails, boosting brain function, helping you lose belly fat, reducing your risk of seizures and reducing your appetite are all based on anecdotal evidence. This means that a large group of people report these types of health benefits from consuming coconut oil but there haven’t been enough scientific studies done in order to claim that they’re accurate. Still, for all of the other health benefits, it’s worth trying out coconut oil and seeing for yourself whether these claims hold any truth! 

Downsides

The biggest downside of coconut oil is the same as butter’s biggest downside. Coconut oil is over 80% saturated fats. If eaten in excess coconut oil might contribute to health problems such as heart disease or narrowing of your arteries. All this means is that you need to limit your consumption of coconut oil to a tablespoon or two a day and make sure to incorporate some other fats such as avocado into your diet. There’s still a range of health benefits to coconut oil, it just has to be consumed in moderation.

Which is better for your Keto?

This is really based on personal preference. As long as they’re consumed in moderation both coconut oil and butter are Keto-friendly. That being said, butter does contain more nutrients than coconut oil so if you’re having trouble getting enough Vitamin A you might want to add a tablespoon of butter to your Keto. Coconut oil is a vegan option because it’s not made from animal by-products. For anyone who’s doing a Vegan Keto, this might be an important consideration. Butter contains butyrate which is important for gut health; while coconut oil contains lauric acid which is important for the health of your prostate.

Your best option is probably to chose both! Instead of opting for one or the other, if you can incorporate both coconut oil and butter into your diet to reap the full benefits of both fats.

Conclusion

When consumed in moderation, but coconut oil and butter are great options for your Keto meal plan. Try to limit your serving sizes to a tablespoon or two of these fats a day in order to reduce your intake of saturated fats while continuing to get the benefits of the heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

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