When MCT oil may NOT be a good idea

Recently, coconut/MCT oil has become a popular choice for weight loss and exercise performance.

Here is the Issue with coconut/MCT oil:
Some individuals with certain genetics (example variant TCF7L2) see increased weight gain with saturated fats (MCT is particularly high in saturated fats – see list below).

If this genetic variant is present, the consumption of saturated fats will cause a release of slightly more ghrelin, the hunger hormone, which can increase food seeking behaviour and food cravings, especially for energy dense foods such as sweets and fats. If an individual also has an alteration in the production of adiponectin and leptin (2 main metabolic hormones that play a key role in the rate of your metabolism but also in the regulation of blood sugar and insulin levels), the desire to snack, especially after 6 pm, the ability to break down stored fat, and inflammatory responses in the body may be increased. In addition the body readily increases the size and number of fat cells, a process known as adipogenesis. These metabolic effects are greatly stimulated and enhanced only when consuming more than 28 grams of saturated fat per day.

So for some individuals, their genetics prevent them from tolerating too much saturated fats in their diet.

The treatment for these individuals would be to reduce dietary intake of saturated fats to less than 28 grams per day. Some simple changes that can be made to lower saturated fat intake and maintain poly and mono unsaturated fats include consuming almonds and walnuts over most other nuts, using fat free dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese, using almond or avocado oil and eliminating coconut oil, and consuming more poultry and fish versus red meat. Below is a chart comparing saturated fat levels in several common foods.

The main take away is that for some saturated fats are great and others not. We could consider running a genetic report to see your unique tolerance. 

Below is a chart comparing saturated fat levels in several common foods:

Food Source | Saturated Fat
1 tbsp MCT oil | 14 grams
1 oz or 28 grams raw almonds | 1 gram 1 oz walnuts | 1.7 gram
1 oz cashews | 2.5 grams
1 oz macadamia nuts | 3.5 grams
3 oz grilled salmon | 2.1 grams
3 oz chicken skinless breast | 2.2 grams 3 oz beef | 3.5 grams
1/2 cup of 2% cottage cheese | 2 grams 1/2 cup of 0% cottage cheese | 0 grams 3/4 cup 0% greek yogurt plain | 0 grams 3/4 cup 2% greek yogurt | 3.5 grams
1 oz cheddar cheese | 9.4grams
1 oz brie | 8 grams
1 large egg | 2 grams
1 oz milk chocolate | 5 grams
1 oz dark chocolate | 9 grams 

If you are interested in running your genetics, you may purchase a 23andme kit and once you have 23 and me raw file we then upload that data into a platform called GeneRX.  You can view a sample GeneRX report by HERE.

To book an appointment with me:

-Dr Diana Semjonov, ND


This article is for educational purposes only and does not advocate self-diagnosis. Due to individual variability, consultation with a licensed health professional, such as a naturopathic doctor is highly recommended prior to starting a natural treatment plan.

Dr. Diana Semjonov ND

Diana Semjonov is a board certified Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. If you would like to schedule an appointment or set up a free 15 minute consultation, please book online at www.DrDianaND.com.

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