Coconut Oil Noise: Back to basics on why endurance athletes (and us) use it in foods.

Coconut Oil Noise: Back to basics on why endurance athletes (and us) use it in foods.

With all the noise from the vegetable oil industry calling out erroneous claims on Coconut oil…I thought it may be good to get back to basics – and highlight, what is unique about coconut oil that makes it such a different fuel for the human body?

Well firstly, a little pharmacology.

Coconut oil is mainly composed of saturated fats (~85%), but they’re not your average type of saturated fat. In coconut oil, the saturated fat is smaller in size, versus the long-chain fats in most fast-foods consumed today. This smaller fat, called medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are handled very differently as fuel….here’s the story.

When we eat carbohydrates (gels, high-sugar bars, sports drinks etc.) – the pancreas, is triggered to secrete insulin and among other effects, insulin will push these sugars (broken down from the carbs) out of the blood and into the cells.   If there is no immediate demand for this fuel it is stored in the cells as fat, …hello obesity. Also, take note, all these sugars are still the number reason for a DNF in endurance racing.

Now back to coconut oil – and specifically, medium chain triglycerides (MCT), these pass directly through the intestine, to the liver,  and they are made ready to use, as fuel for muscles – without any need for insulin.  Lowering insulin is fundamental to maintaining a fat burning metabolism and lowering inflammatory triggers.

Coconut oil/MCTs will help train your body to use and burn fats for energy. By training the body to use fat for fuel, and becoming a fat-adapted athlete – you will have flexible access to both fat and carbs for fuel, and gain sustainable access to fuel during extended-endurance activity (>3hrs). In simple terms, this reduces your risk of ‘hitting the wall’.   Listen to Dr Phil Maffetone, coach to world-leading Ironman and ultra-endurance athletes on the benefits of fat-adaption, for endurance performance.

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For this reason, coconut oil is the oil of choice in our SFuels Ultra Endurance Drinks.  These are just some of the health benefits of switching your prime fuel source from carbs to quality fats – like coconut oil and butter  Aside from these benefits, coconut oil (lauric acid) has many other positive health  effects including but not limited to, antibacterial, antiviral and reduction in hunger-appetite.

thanks for stopping by….wishing you all the best in Going-Longer.

1. Coconut Oil and Fat Burning, Jacob A, Jun 2011.

2. Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue, St. Onge. MP. Dec 2003.

3. The art and science of low carbohydrate performance, Jeff, Volek et al.  Apr 2012

4. The effects of fiber enrichment of pasta and fat content on gastric emptying, GLP-1, glucose, and insulin responses to a meal. Frost GS. Feb 2003.

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