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Butter on the Carnivore Diet: Benefits and Best Types

By Liam McAuliffe Updated on

The carnivore diet means eating high-fat, low-carb animal products. And butter fits the bill! 

In fact, butter can be one of the keys to getting enough fat on the carnivore diet since most muscle meats, even fatty cuts like ribeye are fairly lean and can use a boost. 

Butter is also a fantastic source of highly beneficial fatty acids like butyrate and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) that reduce inflammation and protect your heart. 

In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of butter on the carnivore diet and rate the best types of butter to incorporate into your carnivore diet meal plan

Table of Contents

What is the Carnivore Diet? 

The carnivore diet calls for eating only animal products and eliminating all processed foods and plant foods. 

The nutritional philosophy behind the carnivore diet is based on studies that show that our physiology developed on a hypercarnivorous diet of fatty meat for nearly 2 million years of evolution.

The fats, proteins, and micronutrients provided by animal products form the ideal building blocks of cell structures and hormones–the keys to overall health and wellness. 

At the same time, the carnivore diet eliminates unnecessary dietary stressors, including excess fiber, carbs, antinutrients, and plant toxins.

Butter is one of the most nourishing animal foods that you can enjoy in abundance on the carnivore diet. 


Breaking Butter out of Dietary Jail

If you’re still living in a “fat is bad” mindset, rest assured that mainstream science is finally making an about-face when it comes to whole, fatty animal products. 

study showing saturated fat not bad

This 2020 meta-analysis (gold standard of research) authored by a team of researchers from the top medical schools in the world and published in the prestigious Journal of the American College of Cardiology, makes clear that “Whole-fat dairy, unprocessed meat, eggs, and dark chocolate are SFA-rich foods with a complex matrix that are not associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The totality of available evidence does not support further limiting the intake of such foods.”

graphic showing healthy saturated fatty acids

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Why is Fat So Important on the Carnivore Diet? 

Humans aren’t just carnivores; we’re “fatavores.” 

Our evolutionary dependence on fatty meat is evident in the fact that we can only get around 35% of our calories from protein without getting protein poisoning.

This means that when we eliminate carbs, we need to get the remaining 65% of our calories from animal fats! 

Enter, butter! 

Health Benefits of Butter on the Carnivore Diet

The health benefits of butter on the carnivore diet are attributed to the specific vitamins and fatty acids found in butter. Let’s explore!

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Vitamin A (Retinol) 

Vitamin A, specifically the version called retinol that comes from animal sources, is essential for important physiological functions, including.

  • Maintaining vision
  • Proper growth and physical development in early life
  • A functioning immune system
  • Male and female reproductive processes

Two tablespoons (28 grams) of butter supply a robust 22% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A.

As a fat-soluble vitamin, when retinal is consumed with butterfat it is absorbed into the bloodstream and easily utilized by the body. 

Amount % Daily Value
Per tbsp (14.8 g) serving97 mcg RAE11 %
Per 100 grams684 mcg RAE76 %

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

The fatty acid called Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is produced naturally in the process of fermenting grass into fat that takes place in the digestive system of ruminant animals like cows, and sheep.

CLA is beneficial in numerous ways, including: 

  • Anti-cancer properties, including breast, colon, stomach, prostate, and liver cancers
  • Helps reduce excess body fat
  • Protects against heart disease.
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Strengthens the immune system by reducing inflammation


Butyrate (butyric acid) is a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) that makes up 3-4% of the fat in butter. 

1 teaspoon of butter contains around 150 mg of butyric acid. 

Considering that supplementation of 300 mg of butyric acid has been found to improve IBS symptoms, a tablespoon of butter containing 450 mg of butyrate can have significant effects on digestive health.

It’s worth noting that your body makes most of its butyrate on its own by fermenting fiber in the gut. Since the carnivore diet eliminates nearly all fiber, butyrate in butter can be an important dietary source. 

The many benefits of butyrate include:

  • Reduces inflammation in the gut, helps repair intestinal permeability
  • improves acute ulcerative colitis after only 14 days in animal studies
  • Can reduce symptoms of IBS and GI disorders
  • May reduce the risk of colorectal cancer
  • Controls diarrhea
  • Regulates bowel motility 
  • Regulates gut microbiota
  • May reduce symptoms and help the body recover from Crohn’s disease
  • May prevent type 2 diabetes
  • May reduce body fat and improve insulin sensitivity

Healthy Saturated and Monounsaturated Fats

63% of the fats in butter are saturated fat, 26% are monounsaturated, and 4% are polyunsaturated fat. 

The word “saturated” refers to how all the carbon molecules in butter are bonded with hydrogen atoms. 

This bonding makes saturated fats molecularly stable and extremely resistant to oxidation. In other words, these fats are less likely to damage your body on a cellular level.

A particularly beneficial saturated fat found in butter is lauric acid. 

Research on Lauric shows that its acid reduces harmful bacteria in the gut in route to promoting a beneficial intestinal environment.

Vitamin K2 

Vitamin K2 is probably the most important vitamin you’ve never heard of. 

Pioneering diet researcher and dentist Weston A. Price discovered that a diet high in K2 was the key to the robust dental and physical health of the traditional (non-Western) people he researched around the world. 

K2 is found in fatty animal products, and it is the key that unlocks the benefits of the other fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E.

The benefits of vitamin K2 include: 

  • Supports bone density and reduces risk of fracture by helping your bones absorb calcium
  • Supports hear health by removing excess calcium from the bloodstream. Reduces risk of calcium plaque buildup in blood vessels
  • Has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers

A large study of 4807 people found that those with a K2 intake of at least 32 mcg per day showed a 50% reduction in the risk of dying from heart disease.

For reference, one tablespoon of butter has 2.1 mcg of K2 per day. This won’t boost you into high-intake territory, but it will contribute to the total you get from other k2 food like pastured eggs and pork chops. 

The 3 Best Types of Butter on the Carnivore Diet

Not all butter is created equal. Let’s take a look at the most nutritious types of butter to eat on the carnivore diet. 

1. Pasture-Raised Grass-Fed Butter 

Herndon, USA - March 25, 2021: Closeup of pasture raised grass fed whole butter pack packaged in colorful package of Vital Farms brand on retail shelf display

The feed of dairy cows has been shown to have significant effects on the nutrients in the butter made from their milk.

For example, grass-fed butter has been found to contain 26%  more anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

More impressive yet, grass-fed butter has also been found to provide up to 500% more conjugated linoleic acid than butter from grain-fed cattle.

And though the numbers haven’t been verified, researchers believe that grass-fed butter is much higher in vitamin K2.

The antioxidant beta-carotene is yet another nutrient that has been found to be much richer in grass-fed butter.

2. Raw Milk Butter

Researcher Rosalind Wulzen, discovered that butter made from raw milk contained compounds that reduced stiffness and provided a number of dramatic benefits, including. 

  • Protection from calcification of the joints
  • Protection from hardening of arteries
  • Protection from cataracts
  • Protection from calcification of the pineal gland

This collection of benefits was deemed the “Wulzen-factor.” 

It is likely that the Wulzen-factor was the result of the synergistic effects of fat-soluble vitamins in raw dairy, including vitamin E, A, and vitamin K2.

3. Clarified Butter/Ghee

Clarified butter is produced by heating butter or cream until it melts. Then strain out the milk solids and water. 

The result is pure butterfat. It’s a gorgeous translucent golden color. The flavor is nutty, and it’s great for high-heat cooking. 

In India, ghee is a sacred food and plays a role in many traditional medicines. 

Studies on animals show that ghee can lower cholesterol and triglycerides.

Butter on the Carnivore Diet: The Bottom Line

Butter is a fantastic addition to the all-meat carnivore diet. 

Butter can help you meet the necessary fat-to-protein ratios that keep keto-carnivore sustainable while providing numerous beneficial fats and nutrients.

The healthy fats and nutrients in butter support heart and gut health while reducing the risk of various cancers.

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