In case you hadn’t noticed, butter is back in a big way if you accept everything you read online. Perhaps we should slow down before we go nuts.
For years, nutritionists and doctors advised us to stay away from it because of all those saturated fats. Saturated fat was the worst thing for fighting body fat. They told us butter would clog our arteries, makes us obese, cause heart attacks or could turn us into pools of oil.
Okay, I made up that last one, but there was a time when I could have sold that idea.
Then it all ended. Butter pushed margarine off the dinner table. It nestled right next to bacon in the naughty but nice category.
There are many reasons you’d want to use butter in your cooking, especially when making pancake batter, but first, what was all that malarky about it being bad for us?
Butter is a source of fat; the saturated sort. Saturated fat, experts told us once upon a time, increased or low-density lipoprotein levels, A.K.A. the bad fat.
We believed that those LDLs would build up on the walls of our arteries, causing atherosclerosis, or heart disease. These beliefs were all predicated on research conducted in the 60’s, the results of which we’ve been repeating like robots for over thirty years.
In 1961, a researcher named Ancel Keys correlated data from countries where heart disease was high. He connected the prevalence of saturated fats in the diets of those regions. What’s worse, Keys cherry-picked his data, excluding countries like France where saturated fat intakes would have been high, but heart disease low.
The tale darkens as you trace it back to the egos of individuals and the investments of organizations leveraging the bad data to drive sales. It’s gross.
In 2010, researchers questioned this data, finding it inconclusive for public health policy. Since then, there has been a slow unraveling of the saturated fat story. More researchers have concluded the same thing.
Saturated fats, while still higher in calories than other nutrients, ain’t all that bad.
Better Than The Rest
Keeping the playing field level, understand that fat is always nine calories per gram. That’s more than twice its macronutrient counterparts, carbohydrates, and proteins. They each carry four calories per gram.
A little goes a long way when dealing with fats. While fats may all carry the same amount of energy per gram, they are not all equal.
I’m going to go out on the limb of boldness to assert that butter tastes better than margarine. Not only that, we still do not know the long-term effects of trans fats. So far, the news isn’t good. Trans fats, found in most butter substitutes, may cause cancer.
One secret the experts didn’t tell us until recently was how we could get our medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) from a pat of butter. MCT is a trendy micronutrient, credited for extending one’s energy during the day.
The data on that claim is debatable. Still, because of this claim, many prefer to use butter (or coconut oil) instead other fats when cooking.
Whether butter can extend your energy levels, who cares? It makes pancakes taste so good.
I’ve been slaving over the griddle for over thirty years making pancakes. There are few meals I know how to make in the kitchen, but pancakes I know like the back of my spatula.
Over the years, I’ve worked with many flours, many recipes, and many oils. A tablespoon of oil in your mix is good to keep those cakes from sticking and balance out the chemistry, but butter will make your pancakes outta site.
You can melt anywhere from a quarter cup to a full cup into my mix, depending on the number of servings. Fold it in at the end, avoiding over-stirring your mix, unless you like gummy cakes.
You should know, there is nothing lean, diet, paleo or otherwise geared towards weight loss when you pour butter into your mix. You’ll be making some high-calorie ‘cakes.
So… butter is not “back.” We still have to be reasonable. It’s a dietary fat.
The best advice I can give you on how much is too much is, keep your intake light. You need to consume fat for many reasons, but too much will force your body to store that extra fuel as body fat.
To be sure, know your macros, know your calories. Color in the lines for your goals. In general, if your meal already has avocado and bacon, adding butter is going to skyrocket your calories. In fact, pick bacon or avocado, not both.
Cramming tons of fat is great if you want to gain weight, but not so great if you are trying to drop your body fat. Just, don’t lose any sleep if you pick butter as your fat source.