Which is better for weight loss butter or olive oil?

When it comes to weight loss, the types of fats you eat can make a big difference. Butter and olive oil are both sources of fat in the diet, but they have very different effects on health and body weight. Choosing healthier fats like olive oil over butter may help boost weight loss.

Butter vs Olive Oil: An Overview

Butter and olive oil have vastly different nutrition profiles and health effects. Here is a quick overview comparing some of the main differences between butter and olive oil:

  • Butter is made from animal fat, while olive oil comes from pressed olives.
  • Butter contains significant amounts of saturated fat. Olive oil is mostly unsaturated fat.
  • Olive oil contains beneficial plant compounds like polyphenols and vitamin E. Butter contains minimal antioxidants.
  • Butter has about 100 calories per tablespoon. Olive oil has about 120 calories per tablespoon.
  • Olive oil is a staple of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Butter consumption is linked to increased heart disease risk.
  • Replacing saturated fats like butter with olive oil has been shown to lead to better cholesterol levels and lower risk of heart disease.

Overall, olive oil is considered a healthier fat than butter due to its high content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Substituting olive oil for butter may offer health benefits beyond just weight loss.

Why Olive Oil May Be Better for Weight Loss

Research suggests that eating more olive oil could help boost weight loss. Here are some of the top reasons why olive oil may be better for shedding pounds:

1. Fewer Calories than Butter

Butter is 100% fat and packs about 100 calories per tablespoon. In contrast, olive oil is around 80% fat so it has slightly fewer calories at 120 calories per tablespoon. The small difference in calories between the two can add up over time.

2. Increase Satiety

Some research shows that olive oil may increase feelings of fullness and decrease hunger. One study had participants consume either butter or olive oil. The olive oil group reported feeling significantly more satisfied after a meal versus the butter group.1 Feeling satiated after eating can decrease calorie intake at subsequent meals and reduce overeating.

3. Support Fat Burning

Olive oil may also help boost fat burning. One study found that overweight men on a diet including 1 tablespoon of olive oil per day lost more body fat than those that didn’t consume olive oil. Olive oil also appears to increase levels of adiponectin, a hormone involved in fat metabolism.2

4. Rich in Antioxidants

Extra virgin olive oil is loaded with powerful antioxidants like phytosterols, polyphenols, tocopherols, and carotenoids. Some research shows that these compounds can increase fat burning, decrease fat formation, and support weight loss.3

5. Improve Blood Sugar Control

Better blood sugar control is linked to lower body weight. Olive oil has been shown to reduce blood sugar spikes after meals and may help manage type 2 diabetes.4 Keeping blood sugar steady can prevent energy crashes and decrease appetite, which may support weight loss.

Potential Drawbacks of Olive Oil for Weight Loss

While olive oil has many benefits related to heart health and weight management, there are some potential downsides to consider:

  • High in calories: Despite having fewer calories than butter, olive oil is still a high calorie food at 120 calories per tablespoon.
  • Easy to overeat: The mild flavor and liquid form of olive oil makes it easy to use a lot without realizing it.
  • High in omega-6 fats: Olive oil is lower in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats compared to fatty fish and walnuts.
  • Sensitive to heat: Cooking olive oil at high heat can damage the beneficial compounds and may create harmful free radicals.

To get the most health benefits from olive oil, stick to 1-2 tablespoons per day used cold on salads or in dips and dressings. Measure carefully to control portions and be mindful of how much you use for cooking.

Healthier Ways to Cook with Olive Oil

Here are some tips for cooking with olive oil to get the benefits while minimizing any potential downsides:

  • Use low to medium heat when cooking. Avoid high heat like deep frying.
  • Pair it with more stable oils like avocado oil when cooking at higher temperatures.
  • Opt for light olive oil for cooking rather than extra virgin since the lighter version has a higher smoke point.
  • Add olive oil at the end of cooking instead of at the beginning.
  • Drizzle over vegetables or meat after cooking instead of using in the cooking process.

Key Differences Between Butter and Olive Oil

Butter Olive Oil
Main components Butterfat (saturated fat) Oleic acid (monounsaturated fat)
Calories 100 per tablespoon 120 per tablespoon
Smoke point Low (300°F-350°F) Medium (405°F extra virgin), High (465°F light olive oil)
Use for cooking Only low temperature cooking Lower and higher temperature cooking (depending on type)
Flavor Rich, creamy Fruity, peppery (extra virgin)
Health effects Linked to higher LDL cholesterol and heart disease risk Linked to lower LDL cholesterol and reduced heart disease risk

Butter in a Weight Loss Diet

Butter can be included in a weight loss diet, but portion control is key. Here are some tips for incorporating butter in a healthy way on a diet:

  • Use small amounts of grass-fed or organic butter for flavor.
  • Measure 1 teaspoon (about 40 calories) to top cooked vegetables, baked potatoes, or oatmeal.
  • Use butter sparingly when cooking versus pouring freely over meals.
  • Limit butter on bread to 1 pat per slice or look for light butters.
  • Substitute butter with olive oil or avocado oil when possible.
  • Avoid excessive butter in things like pastries, cookies, and sauces.

Including some butter in moderation can add flavor and creaminess to meals. Just be sure to stick to small portions to keep calories under control.

How to Incorporate More Olive Oil for Weight Loss

Getting more healthy olive oil in your diet is easy. Here are simple tips for how to eat more olive oil to potentially boost weight loss:

  • Use olive oil for cooking instead of butter, canola oil, etc.
  • Drizzle olive oil over salads, cooked veggies, or fish.
  • Make homemade vinaigrettes and salad dressings with olive oil.
  • Marinate chicken, fish, or vegetables in olive oil.
  • Add olive oil to sauces, stews, and soups.
  • Use in homemade hummus or pesto.
  • Make fresh herb and olive oil infusions.
  • Saute vegetables in olive oil instead of butter.
  • Stir into plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.

Aim for 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil per day to get the benefits. More than that may be excessive and lead to extra calories.

Should You Avoid Butter on a Diet?

Butter is high in saturated fat, which has been linked to higher cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disease. However, moderate intake may be fine for most people.

Here is the evidence on whether you need to cut butter for weight loss:

  • Butter is more calorie-dense and not as nutritious as olive oil.
  • Eating butter regularly is linked to higher body weight and obesity.
  • Replacing butter with olive oil may help control appetite and calorie intake.
  • Butter in small amounts likely won’t negatively impact health or weight loss.
  • Cutting way back on butter is beneficial for heart health.

For the biggest health and weight loss benefits, it’s best to limit butter and get more healthy fats like olive oil. But modest amounts of butter can be worked into an overall healthy diet.

Final Thoughts

Olive oil appears to have an edge over butter when it comes to weight loss. The healthier fats, antioxidants, and potential appetite-suppressing effects give olive oil some advantages.

However, both olive oil and butter are high calorie foods so portion control is key. Using too much of any fat can easily increase calorie intake and lead to weight gain.

For the best results:

  • Use olive oil as your primary cooking fat over butter.
  • Monitor your portions of both oils.
  • Drizzle olive oil over dishes after cooking for fat-soluble nutrients.
  • Enjoy butter occasionally in small amounts if you tolerate dairy.
  • Limit higher fat foods like pastries and fried foods that contain lots of butter.

Choosing healthier fats is just one piece of the weight loss puzzle. Be sure to also focus on getting enough exercise, controlling portions, eating lots of vegetables, and limiting processed foods and sugar. The combination of these habits will help you lose weight and keep it off over the long term.

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