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Diet and fitness influencers are encouraging people to eat sticks of butter as part of low carb eating plans like the carnivore diet. littleny/Getty Images
  • People on social media are snacking on butter as part of the carnivore diet.
  • Proponents claim it aids weight loss by contributing to feelings of fullness and has other wellbeing benefits like improved mood and energy.
  • However, dietitians don’t recommend it and warn that snacking on butter can contribute to heart problems, nutrient deficiencies, and gut issues.
  • Healthier snack options include nuts, seeds, fruit, and vegetables.

Social media is often where weird and potentially dangerous health advice gains traction. The latest in a long line of questionable – and often harmful – nutrition trends is snacking on sticks of butter.

Snacking on sticks of butter has become a popular practice among some TikTok creators following the carnivore diet.

The carnivore diet involves eating only animal-based products – like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy – excluding plant-based foods, with some people claiming it can aid with weight loss.

The aim is to consume zero carbs.

In one video on the social media platform, TikTok creator @steakandbuttergirl is seen biting into a stick of butter while sharing that she eats butter every day for “happy hormones, great skin, energy and mood.”

Many users on the app also snack on sticks of butter as a weight loss tactic, with some using butter as a meal replacement.

However, butter is an unconventional weight-loss food, and overconsumption of it is associated with a number of poor health outcomes.

Here two dietitians explain why snacking on butter is not a healthy choice.

Paediatric dietitian Emma Shafqat says this trend is concerning because butter is very high in saturated fat and calories, which can contribute to weight gain and other health problems.

“While fat is an essential part of our diet, it’s all about moderation,” she points out. “It’s important that our meals are balanced, and we consume food in the five main food groups to ensure that we get all the essential nutrients that our body needs to stay healthy.”

Shafqat says that the high saturated fat content found in butter may increase your LDL cholesterol and, therefore, your risk of heart disease.

What’s more, she says many people are already over-consuming saturated fat, and snacking on butter won’t help matters.

“Men should not eat more than 30g of saturated fat a day, and women should not eat more than 20g,” she points out.

A 2014 study found that higher saturated fat intake was associated with higher obesity and body mass index (BMI) scores.

Registered dietitian nutritionist Claire Rifkin says that fat is the most calorie-dense nutrient. It’s also true that fats are essential for satiety, helping to quell hunger.

“This likely leads some to believe that consuming sticks of butter can efficiently meet a significant portion of their caloric needs while also maintaining feelings of fullness,” she explains. “However, the reality is that simply consuming a stick of saturated fat, which lacks fiber-rich carbohydrates and protein, is unlikely to provide lasting satiety.”

Low fiber isn’t only a problem because you’ll likely be left feeling hungry.

“Without enough fiber in your diet, you might experience constipation,” Shafqat points out. “Low-fiber diets are also linked to increased prevalence of gut diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, type 1 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome.”

Rifkin shares similar concerns. “The absence of dietary fiber can negatively impact gut microbiota and digestion, leading to constipation and, in more severe cases, colon cancer, which is on the rise in young people.”

When you routinely reach for a stick of butter over healthier snack options, like a piece of fruit or some vegetables, for example, you also increase your risk of nutrient deficiencies.

“A diet consisting of just animal foods may be low in vitamins that are often obtained from plant foods,” Shafqat examples.

She points to a 2018 study that showed a high-animal protein and a low carbohydrate diet was low in B₁, D, E, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, nutrients that contribute to your overall health.

One vitamin of particular concern, according to Shafqat, is vitamin C.

“Meats are not a good source of vitamin C, and if you aren’t consuming enough of it, it can result in scurvy.”

The carnivore diet isn’t considered a healthy eating style, and there is no evidence to support claims that it can eliminate certain health issues.

What’s more, eliminating plant-based food sources could make it difficult for you to consume adequate amounts of nutrients that are important for health.

However, if you’re someone who likes to eat a predominately animal-based diet, how can you do so in a healthier way?

Shafqat says it’s essential that anyone following this diet add micronutrient-rich foods or supplements to reduce the risk of deficiency in this diet. That will mean taking a less rigid approach to the carnivore diet, but it could be better for your health in the long term.

It’s a good idea to swap out that stick of butter for a nutrient-rich snack, like carrot sticks, crunchy bell peppers, or even an orange, to up your intake of vitamin C.

You shouldn’t ever use butter as a meal replacement. Instead, Shafqat recommends healthier swaps like oily fish and eggs.

“Eggs provide choline, folate, vitamin D, iodine, B vitamins, and high quality protein, while oily fish is a healthy source of omega-3,” she explains.

Meanwhile, Rifkin says you should consider snacking on nuts and seeds instead.

“A handful of mixed nuts and seeds, such as almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds, offers a convenient, portable snack option that’s rich in beneficial fats,” she notes.

“Unlike the saturated fats found in butter, the fats in nuts and seeds are the healthy type of fat that actually supports heart health.”

Butter isn’t a healthy snack option, and consuming it regularly as part of the carnivore diet can increase your risk of heart disease, nutrient deficiencies, and other health problems.

If you must consume a predominately animal-based diet, it’s better to take a more flexible approach, swapping sticks of butter for healthier snacks like nuts, fruit, and vegetables.