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USDA says butter and cream are "empty calories". Thoughts?

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  • USDA says butter and cream are "empty calories". Thoughts?

    Back story: I had to do a "perfect day" nutrient analysis for my nutrition class using and design a day that is perfect according to them. Anyway, I fudged it of course so I can get a decent grade but when I put in butter and cream, the tracker called all of it "empty calories". I asked my (vegetarian) study buddy and she looked at me funny and said, "are you asking for real?". I said I know they aren't the most nutrient dense food but we still need fat in our diet.

    So my question is, are they really empty calories? Should these types of food be avoided? I'm not a Primal nutjob but my focus is health & real food and I do want to avoid "empty calories". Thoughts? Opinions?

  • #2
    Well pastured is good for K2, vitamin A and a variety of fatty acids. Some of these fatty acids actually act in the same way as antioxidants. Problem is that not many nutrition calculators or teachers take fatty acid profile into account. Of course they are not "empty". They are energy AND building blocks for vital hormones and cell structure.

    Hey just found this Butter Up: Why Butter is a Healthy Choice
    Last edited by Neckhammer; 11-02-2012, 03:56 PM.


    • #3
      actually, they are a very nutrient dense food, as they also hold most fat-soluable vitamins, help in protein up-take, and blah blah blah. weston a price foundation has lots of science on this.


      • #4
        Hey thanks! That's a great article, I might post that on my class forum. We have a few "Paleo leaning" people in my class but I'm the only outspoken and opinionated (see: annoying) one. I didn't realize that butter offered more than just fat and supposed "empty calories"


        • #5
          I empty them right into my chai tea...and on my veggies...
          Every time I hear the dirty word 'exercise', I wash my mouth out with chocolate.


          • #6


            • #7
              Why does everything have to be about vitamins? We don't burn vitamins to keep our blood warm and our muscles moving. We are very efficient at burning the chemical bonds in fat, even if the fat doesn't contain a single vitamin. Vitamins come mostly from veggies, or organs meats if you're a meaty-meat. Admittedly, animal fat has more vitamins than dairy fat, but dairy fat is still useful as pure fuel.
              Last edited by oxide; 11-02-2012, 05:15 PM.
              5'0" female, 45 years old. Started Primal October 31, 2011, at a skinny fat 111.5 lbs. Low weight: 99.5 lb on a fast. Gained back to 115(!) on SAD chocolate, potato chips, and stress. Currently 111.


              • #8
                Empty? Empty of profits for those who feed at the trough of the USDA maybe.

                Sounds like a losing assignment. You will only learn how to click buttons on a calculator but you won't get to do any critical thinking and thus won't actually learn anything for real. The best you can do is turn in an answer that meets with the instructor's approval.

                Thank god for the Liberal Arts. Critical thinking is a valuable skill.
                Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by DinoHunter View Post
                  I empty them right into my chai tea...and on my veggies...
                  Breathe. Move forward.

                  I just eat what I want...


                  • #10
                    Yup. I thoroughly enjoy emptying entire cups of grass fed cream into my mouth.

                    lately it's been warmed with cocoa powder and stevia
                    --Trish (Bork)
                    TROPICAL TRADITIONS REFERRAL # 7625207
                    FOOD PORN BLOG!


                    • #11
                      I think that it's because everyone always looks at the "nutrition/calorie" ratio, or ANDI score. It's a pretty good scale for vegetables and fruit, to help you pick more nutritious ones, but I think the scale can be skewed by having really low calories, which isn't really all that useful for me, as I'm trying to gain weight. The main thing that drives up calories in most fruit is the sugars, so if you are trying to be low-carb, that will help.

                      It's also telling that the creator of that scale felt that meat, seafood, and dairy weren't healthful.


                      • #12
                        The USDA can bite me! Butter and cream make life worth living.


                        • #13
                          haha, you guys are awesome. The USDA is still pushing a low-fat or fat-free diet except they do encourage a limited amount of olive & canola oil. (side question RE: canola oil-- after learning about how processed it is, I don't eat it anymore. Does anyone have a credible source I can post in my class on why it's not as good as the good ol' gubment says?) It's definitely been an interesting experience. For the assignments, I hold my nose and tell the teacher what she wants to hear but on our discussion forum (it's an online class) I have mentioned a few times my true opinions on fat, grains, and other food.


                          • #14
                            First, you have to see that the USDA is invested in promoting a grain-based diet because big agribusiness makes more money from grain, CAFO foods, and franken foods than it does from healthily raised animals and plants.

                            Let's toss a few numbers out. Fictional woman. 120 lbs. Not a couch potato, but not a gym rat. Maybe 35-45 years old. She's learned over time that the average daily calories needed to maintain her weight is about 1500.

                            She eats about .8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight or 96 grams. Each gram of protein has 4 calories, so her calories from protein are 4 x 96 = 384. Let's say that she eats mostly lean proteins, so she gets another 100 calories from fat.

                            She tries to eat healthy and so eats enough veggies and fruits to consume 120 gms of carbs - I chose this number because our fictional woman has maintained her weight for a bunch of years and this number is at the lowish end of what Mark calls the sweet spot on the carb curve for maintaining weight. Also 4 calories per gram, 4 x 120 = 480.

                            So, from the totals above (384+100+480), she's eating 964 calories per day.

                            According to the USDA, she should choose all those yummy grains to get the other 536 calories she needs to sustain life. People who believe that the USDA has been literally killing us with their "advice" in the last thirty years think she should be eating more fat. So, assuming she gets all her vitamins from the 964 calories above, she doesn't need for fats to be particularly nutritional, which is also a reason why the USDA shoves grains down everyone's throat - most of them aren't very nutritional either.

                            IOW, if you eat nutritionally dense foods (animals and colorful veggies and fruits) and get all your vitamins, you can eat all the empty calories you want (within your body's caloric needs) and they're not necessarily going to hurt you. In fact, if you get your calories from healthy fats, some of us believe it will help you because unlike grains, it will sate your appetite and not give you gut problems.

                            "Empty calories" is an old throwback idea to the calorie only model. Basically it was, at the time, fairly common sense and meant that you shouldn't be eating candy and cakes, etc., because you weren't getting nutrients from them. And if you're eating low nutrient density foods, like grains, fat could be considered empty calories, because you could be starving yourself of nutrients. But in addition to nutrients, we need fuel. Fat is good fuel.

                            I'm not sure if that's the most coherent thing I've ever posted, but I gave it a shot.
                            "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine


                            Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.


                            • #15
                              What's an empty calorie? You could say that sweet potato is an "empty vitamin A" because it's only rich in vitamin A (which it's not really but that's not the point". Saturated fat is needed jus like vitamins. So then you could say butter is "empty saturated fat" which isn't bad at all.
                              well then