If you're following a low-carb type of diet or simply trying to cut down on carbohydrates, you don't have to worry about butter -- it only has a minuscule amount of carbs. Even though butter won't contribute a significant amount of carbs to your diet, it does contain unhealthy saturated fat.
Butter is primarily fat, not carbohydrates. One ounce of butter has a total of about 205 calories, nearly all of which come from the more than 23 grams of fat. You'll only get 0.24 grams of protein and a minimal 0.02 grams of carbohydrates from a single ounce of butter, amounting to less than 1 calorie from these combined nutrients.
Carbs tend to have a bad reputation, but they're very important for energy. Your digestive tract works hard to turn carbohydrates into glucose, also known as blood sugar. Glucose powers each and every cell throughout your body and is the preferred source of energy for brain cells.
In order to have enough fuel in your system, you should be getting a big chunk of your calories from carbs. Somewhere around 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories should be from carbohydrates, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. If you tend to stick to a 2,000-calorie daily diet -- the amount that nutrition facts labels are based on -- you'll need 900 to 1,300 calories from carbohydrates each day, or 225 to 325 grams.
Butter is high in a harmful type of fat called saturated fat. This is the type of fat known for its role in clogging arteries, upping your cholesterol levels and increasing your chances of heart disease if you have too much.
No more than 10 percent of your total calories should come from saturated fat, reports the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Fat has more than double the calories of carbohydrates: 9 calories per gram. So a maximum amount of 10 percent of your calories from saturated fat would be 200 calories, or about 22 grams. One ounce of butter has more than 14.5 grams of saturated fat, amounting to more than 60 percent of the total fat content.
Margarine is an alternative to butter that works well in your favorite recipes or simply as a spread for toast. Margarine has approximately 200 calories per ounce and 0.2 grams of carbohydrates -- a little more than butter. Even though the calories and carbs of margarine don't differ too much from butter, it is much lower in saturated fat. You'll only get 4.3 grams of saturated fat from 1 ounce of margarine -- 70 percent less than the same amount of butter.
- U.S Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Butter, Without Salt
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Margarine, Regular, 80% Fat, Composite, Stick, With Salt
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.