Why Coconut Milk Gives You Energy And Helps You Burn Fat

Coconut milk, despite its high saturated fat content, can help the body burn more energy and lose weight more easily. The unique structure of the MCFAs found in coconut milk allow them to be burned more readily for energy, and increases total energy expenditure over the day. Additionally, they have been shown to be more satiating than longer-chain fats, filling you up better and helping prevent hunger.

So, despite coconut milks potential to raise total cholesterol, the effects it will actually have on your body are likely to be far different. Coconut milk has more potential to help you lose weight and feel satisfied than cow’s milk or any other milk substitute. Furthermore, coconut milk is more likely to positively affect your TC:HDL ratio, increasing your good HDL cholesterol more than LDL cholesterol.

If you drink coconut milk, and have looked at the label, you’re probably aware that it is high in saturated fat. This may seem worrying to you. After all, we’ve been bombarded with public health messages saying “Avoid saturated fat at all costs!” The truth is more complicated, however. As it turns out, not all saturated fats are created equal.

There are four commonly consumed saturated fats:

  1. Lauric Acid
  2. Myristic Acid
  3. Palmitic Acid
  4. Stearic Acid

The difference between them lie in their lengths. Lauric acid, common only in certain foods like coconut, is the shortest saturated fat we commonly eat, and is designated a “medium-chain fatty acid” (MCFA). This is opposed to the short-chain fatty acids, which are very uncommon in food, and the long-chain fatty acids, which are the most common.

Does Coconut Milk Raise Cholesterol?

It is true that lauric acid and myristic acid (two of the saturated fats in coconut) raise total cholesterol levels. One fact which is usually ignored, however, is that lauric acid raises the good HDL cholesterol to a greater extent than LDL cholesterol.1 The result is that your total cholesterol to HDL ratio (TC:HDL) goes down, which correlates with a decreased cardiovascular risk.

Myristic acid raises cholesterol without affecting the TC:HDL ratio, making the effects it has more or less neutral. In case you were curious, trans fat increases the bad LDL cholesterol more than HDL, which is why it is the worst fat to consume for cardiovascular risk.

It’s also important to consider that diet is only one factor increasing cardiovascular risk. For most patients with a high risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and obesity are much greater risk factors. Both of these factors drive up our body’s production of cholesterol, which causes a much steeper rise in total blood lipids and cholesterol than diet does.

How Much Do You Need To Rest When Exercising A Lot?

By , Clinical Nutrition Writer

Rest days are extremely important! If you exercise frequently or intensely, then at least once a week you should limit yourself to “non-exerting” (or less exerting) forms of physical activity, like an easy walk or yoga.

What happens if you don’t take a rest day is far worse than the loss of a single training day. During exercise, both cortisol and testosterone increase, which is normal and doesn’t cause a problem one day at a time. After a few days of exercise, though, cortisol starts to remain higher than normal and testosterone starts to dip lower than normal

Every day of exercise you add on after this drives cortisol higher and testosterone lower, altering what exercise physiologists call the “testosterone to cortisol ratio”, or T/C ratio for short.

We’re not 100% certain when “overtraining” happens, but we do know that it happens much more frequently (and perhaps solely) in people with a very low T/C ratio.

When overtraining sets in, you feel fatigued all the time, are prone to injury and illness, and stop making gains, whether you measure them in weight lost or performance gained. To overcome this slump, significant amounts of time off are required to let the body recover.

Moral of the story is this: Our body is amazing, but it needs rest!

4-6 days of alternating exercise, some of low intensity, with one dedicated rest day = Gains in strength, performance, and body composition. 7 days on with no rest days and few low intensity days = Losses in strength, performance, and body composition.

(PEERtrainer Note: Brian wrote this in response to a question we got in the PEERtrainer Leaders Group:

“Does anyone have something to share concerning working out? I walk/jog 3 miles a day, and work out 1 hour on my elliptical. Every other day I do weight training at the gym, and two days a week I do water aerobics. I have been doing this everyday since April first. I am sure there are many possible answers why today I woke up and I am dragging. I haven’t had this feeling in a long long time. Anyway, I started to think that maybe I should have a rest day in my regime. Any ideas or thoughts about this. I have lost 45 lbs since April first….have 55 to go….and I am 66 years old.

Do your body a favor and let it rest up frequently!

Can Food Allergies Be Caused By Repeatedly Eating The Same Thing?

By  , Clinical Nutrition Writer

I don’t know if I or anyone else ever explicitly said this, but it is true in a way. Essentially, if a person has leaky gut syndrome (which is likely if they’ve been having sensitivity issues with foods) then even if they eliminate that food they’re sensitive to, they may develop new sensitivities.

The problem isn’t the food itself, except in certain cases such as celiac or true allergies, but rather the compromised gut. It may be that some food is more likely to compromise the gut, making developing a sensitivity more likely, but even a person who ends up with a sensitivity to gluten is unlikely to have started out with one.

Rather, over time (possibly from the gluten, though research is far from extensive at this point) their small intestine develops ‘cracks’, openings which are larger than normal which allow larger bits of food to slip through. These food proteins may then cause an immune reaction, which will manifest as a sensitivity.

So, developing a new food sensitivity is not so much caused by eating that food often as it is a game of odds. If your gut is compromised, and you keep eating the same foods, eventually some of that food will slip through, and as it continues slipping through, your body mounts progressively larger immune reactions until finally you notice some symptoms.

Your best bet, if you have a known sensitivity, is to cut that food out and go to work repairing your gut so as to preemptively avoid new sensitivities. Continuing to eat foods which cause symptoms will make the problem difficult to resolve as they will keep the inflammatory cycle alive, preventing healing.

As an interesting note, these ‘cracks’ in the gut are why babies are so much more prone to developing allergies early on in life. Babies derive a lot of their immune system from their mother’s breast milk, and immunoglobins are much larger particles that require larger ‘cracks’ to squeeze through.

Babies have larger ‘cracks’ which allow these immune factors to enter the bloodstream and develop their immunity. Unfortunately, other undigested food particles, if they are introduced too soon, can trigger the immune system to improperly recognize invaders and the child to develop an allergy. Eventually, the child’s gut ‘cracks’ tighten up and over time allergies can go away as the immune system fully develops in adulthood.