“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”
― Richard P. Feynman

Saturated Fats From Palm oil Increases Fat in Liver

Figure 1

A recent study from Sweden shows that saturated fats (SFA) from palm oil, which is similar to coconut oil in saturated fat content, increases a person’s storage of fat in the liver, which markedly increases diabetes risk.

I’ve spoken about the harms of saturated fat before, but this study is a clinical trial that mimics the real world to a large degree.    What we see is a translation of mostly animal studies to well-conducted human studies.

Thirty-nine young, normal-weight subjects were randomly assigned to eat large amounts of muffins made with either palm oil (high in saturated fats) or sunflower oil (high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats) for seven weeks. MRI showed that those who ate the saturated fat from palm oil had double the amount of fat stored in their livers compared to the sunflower oil group. Interestingly, those who ate primarily omega-6 polyunsaturated plant fat (sunflower oil) had triple the gain in muscle, compared to the palm oil group.

The subjects in the study were overeating and gained on average 1.6kg  in both groups.  Overeating PUFAs caused half of that weight to be stored as fat and the other half was turned into muscle. On the other hand, overeating saturated fat lead people to 80% of those calories to be converted to fat and 20% muscle.

What we see is overeating is never a great idea, but overeating is a fact for most of the west, so it would be wise to choose what you should overeat.

It’s important to also note that the subjects in the study were eating fructose and fructose and saturated fat has an additive effect on increasing liver fat (R).  I’ve mentioned on the blog before that I noticed this combination didn’t go well for me and the research supports this.  Realize that fructose is an almost necessary component of the modern lifestyle, though.

I would personally rather eat more fructose than saturated fat if I had to choose one.  And this is what I do in practice.  This is because I don’t feel weak from fructose and I never was able to overdo it, as long as I didn’t consume oils with a high saturated fat content.

The study mentions that PUFA may not only be not harmful, but also beneficial in reducing liver fat.

These results vindicate my own personal experimentation or feeling very weak from coconut oil and other saturated fat oils.

I would go further and say that this study was done in people who probably adapted to a higher fat diet over the millennia, whereas those from nonnordic ancestry probably have it worse.

Butter Also Causes Fatty Liver

In a different study done in 2012, they randomly assigned 67 abdominally obese subjects to a 10-wk isocaloric diet high in omega-6 PUFAs or a diet mainly from butter, without altering the macronutrient intake.  Liver fat was assessed by MRI and magnetic resonance proton (1H) spectroscopy (MRS).

The PUFA diet contained the same omega-6’s that drive the paleo world insane.

The PUFA diet lowered LDL cholesterol by decreasing a certain protein that increases LDL cholesterol (PCSK9).  The PUFA diet also lowered inflammation, as evidenced by lower TNF receptor-2.   Insulin tended to be higher during the SFA diet (not good). In the PUFA diet reduced insulin, total/HDL-cholesterol ratio, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides compared to the SFA diet (all positive events).

The study also found that compared with SFA intake, omega-6 PUFAs reduced liver fat and modestly improve metabolic status, without weight loss.

Most important the results were that a high omega-6 PUFA intake does not cause any signs of inflammation or oxidative stress, contradicting the paleo/low carb bloggers.

This study flies in the face of some “bulletproof” fellows and company who claim that omega-6 PUFA are deadly and we should pound butter instead.

Coconut Oil is a Relatively Recent Invention: It’s Not Even Paleo

We didn’t evolve to eat oils, especially coconut oil.  Coconut oil is a recent invention, so it’s puzzling why paleo people support it.

To get the health benefits of coconut without the drawbacks, use coconut shreds like I do.  It’s very hard to go overboard when you eat the whole food.  It’s kind of like the difference between drinking fruit juice and eating the whole fruit.  Fruit juices increase diabetes risk while eating whole fruits decrease diabetes risk.

My advice: stick to the whole food, like our ancestors did.

How Different is Palm Oil From Coconut Oil?

The first study cited above discusses palm oil, but a commenter pointed out that there can be more than one palm oil.  There’s palm kernel oil and palm oil.  Palm kernel oil is almost identical in its fatty acid profile to coconut oil, while palm oil has less saturated fat than coconut oil.  Coconut oil is ~82% saturated vs palm oil which is ~51% saturated.   However, palm oil has more palmitic acid (43% vs 8%), which may be a bit different than other saturated fats.   However, there’s much more similarities than differences.

So palm kernel oil has a higher level of saturated fat but a lower level of palmitic acid compared to palm oil.  Palm oil contains oleic acid, which is a healthy MUFA.  There’re good reasons to think that they could’ve used either one, but since the study mentions “palm oil” it probably means palm oil.

Let’s compare this to coconut oil.  It contains a whopping 91% saturated fat, beating out palm and palm kernel oils.

Let’s also look at the fatty acids in coconut oil and see the research on each one.

The most common fatty acids in coconut oil are lauric acid (52%), Myristic acid (19%) and palmitic acid (11%) (R). All of these have been found to cause insulin resistance (Palmitic acid (R), Myristic acid (R), Lauric acid (R)).

Technical: All of the following associations are”bad.” Myristic acid was  associated with fasting insulin, 2-hour insulin and HOMA index (which measures insulin resistance). Palmitic acid was associated with 2-hour glucose and 2-hour insulin and stearic acid was associated with fasting glucose (R).

All 3 fatty acids also raise LDL cholesterol, with lauric acid raising it the most, followed by myristic and palmitic (R).

In a case-controlled analysis, the risk of high-grade prostate cancer was increased  by myristic acid intake (R).

Generally, the research is pretty clear that myristic acid and palmitic acid should be limited in the diet for optimal health, so I won’t speak more about this.

What about lauric acid?  I already mentioned how it can cause insulin resistance and raise LDL.  But wait, There’s more!  A study done on mice testing Lauric acid showed that it caused broad inflammatory effects.

Technical: In the study, lauric acid increased costimulatory molecules (CD40, CD80, and CD86), MHC class II, and cytokines (IL-12p70 and IL-6) in bone marrow-derived DCs, via activating TLRs (R).  See a primer on the immune system to understand this.

However, a Malaysian study found no difference in inflammatory markers with lauric, myristic of palmitic acid (R). Whenever I read studies that are contradictory I take closer looks- so I read the full study.  I was mainly curious about the length of the study, the size and the level of saturated fat.  It turns out that it was only 3 weeks, was  small (15 subjects per a group) and had only 30% of the diet from fat.  The results then don’t surprise me, since this wasn’t a lot of fat in the diet.  Most paleo supporters advocated for anywhere from 50-80% and mostly saturated fats.  I think these people are crazy, absent a ketogenic diet.

Anyway, I emailed the author as to which he is referring to and am awaiting a reply.

See the fatty acid profiles of various fats.

Excess Fat Stored in the Liver Leads to Diabetes

When blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas releases large amounts of insulin. Insulin lowers high blood sugar levels by driving sugar from the bloodstream into the liver. However, when your liver is full of fat, the fat prevents sugar from entering liver cells. The blood sugar levels remain high to make a person diabetic.

Counterpoints

The study deals with palm oil, so it might be a bit worse than coconut oil, but I think the outcome would be similar.  The fatty acid profile isn’t too different between them and my bad experience was with coconut oil.   Coconut oil may also have more/different phytochemicals than palm oil that counteract fatty liver, but the point is that we see a high level of saturated fat increases liver fat, which is the worst kind of fat in the body.

People on  high fat diets eat very little carbs, so the situation is better, but eating little carbs has its own drawbacks.

Keep in mind that if you are eating these oils but also restricting calories and exercising, these steps will counteract the effect to a very large degree and may not cause fatty liver.  However, I felt very weak doing this and I don’t recommend this approach unless it’s a last resort to lose weight.  Whenever I over-consume any saturated fat I feel weak.  Others, however, report that they feel more energy.

A commenter has pointed out that the people in the study were over-consuming calories.  But like I said in the previous paragraph, that if you restrict calories the fatty acid profile becomes less or not relevant and this study doesn’t apply to you.  However, in the real world, most people eat an excess of calories.  And I’ve seen people get convinced that coconut oil is so healthy they should use it as a medicine, so they’d eat a meal and consume coconut oil after as a health food.

The point of this post is to show you that excess saturated fat even from coconut oil, a supposed superfood, can cause insulin resistance, fatty liver, and inflammation and you should consume it in moderation (if at all).  As always, if your own experiments tell you otherwise, then do what works for you, no matter what any study says!  You have to listen to your own body.

Who Do I Think Should Use Coconut Oil?

I’m not dogmatic and I won’t say coconut oil is bad for everyone all of the time.  There are some cases where coconut oil is extremely useful.  The following are three scenarios which it can come in handy.

1) Candida. For one, it’s great if you have candida.  This is because it has antimicrobials that fight against candida (RR2).  In addition, it has Capric acid (R), Saturated Fat (R), Lauric acid (R) and MCT (R), all of which inhibit candida.  This makes it a powerful candida tool.

2) Lectin sensitivity. I also noticed that consumption of coconut oil decreased lectin sensitivity, even though it gave me other kinds of systemic inflammation that didn’t come from food.

I found a study that showed sialic acid content increased in the gut (specifically the brush border membranes) in response to coconut oil feeding [R].  This possibly decreases lectin sensitivity by providing a medium for which lectins can bind.  See the symptoms of lectin sensitivity.

It’s also possible that saturated fats like palmitic acid and stearic acid cause macrophage death and therefore decrease some aspect of the immune system (R).

3) Weight loss, as a last resort. Coconut oil decreases my appetite and therefore consumption of calories, so if you are overweight you can try it out, though be careful.  A recent study has demonstrated that low-carb diets are more effective for weight loss than low-fat diets – however, the fat was likely not mostly saturated (R).  However, these people ate on average 127g of carbs instead of the recommended 40g (R) and they ate mostly unsaturated fat (R).

I would recommend trying a lectin avoidance diet if sensitive to lectins or a resistant starch diet if not before you try to lose weight with coconut oil. I suspect this is particularly true with lectin sensitive individuals. But use it in conjunction with limiting calories.  Don’t view it like vegetables, where you consume as much of it as you want.  It should be used to replace meals.  Pay attention to your body.

Study From Sweden With Bolded Sections

….We investigated liver fat accumulation and body composition during overfeeding saturated (SFA) or polyunsaturated (PUFA) fat. LIPOGAIN was a double-blind, parallel-group, randomized trial. Thirty-nine young and normal-weight individuals were overfed muffins high in SFA (palm oil) or n-6 PUFA (sunflower oil) for 7 weeks. Liver fat, visceral (VAT), subcutaneous abdominal (SAT), and total adipose tissue (TAT), pancreatic fat, and lean tissue was assessed by MRI….. Both groups gained similar weight. SFA however markedly increased liver fat compared with PUFA and caused 2-fold larger increase in VAT than PUFA. Conversely, PUFA caused a nearly 3-fold larger increase in lean tissue than SFA. Increase in liver fat directly correlated with changes in plasma SFA and inversely with PUFA. Genes involved in regulating energy dissipation, insulin resistance, body composition and fat cell differentiation in SAT were differentially regulated between diets, and associated with increased PUFA in SAT. In conclusion, overeating SFA promotes hepatic and visceral fat storage whereas excess energy from PUFA may instead promote lean tissue in healthy humans.

The WHO and IOM Recommendations

I listen carefully to anything the World Health Organization or the Institute of Medicine say.  These organizations aren’t biased and have great scientists working for them.  An individual is limited in how many studies they can read thoroughly and I feel getting the opinions of smart people who pore over this stuff for a living isn’t a bad idea.  Of course, we should always be skeptical, but I’d rather hear their opinions than bloggers who love to make money by debunking conventional wisdom and who usually don’t have training in analyzing scientific studies.  Just by looking at the language they use, you can see they are much balanced than health bloggers.

These organizations recommend no more than 10% of the diet be saturated fat.  1.5 tablespoons of coconut oil provides this for a 2000 calorie diet.  Since animal products, nuts and seeds also contain saturated fats, practically following this advice would mean to cut out butter and coconut oil, but still be able to eat fats from whole foods in the from of avocados, chicken etc… (R)

They say total fat should be between 15-35% of calories for most individuals, though my own fat intake is probably about 35-40%.  (R)

Regarding PUFAs:

They say there is convincing evidence that replacing Saturated fat (SFA) with PUFAs decreases the risk of CHD. However, they say that there is probable evidence that replacing SFA with largely sugars and rapidly digested starches has no benefit on CHD, and may even increase the risk of CHD and favour metabolic syndrome development. (R)

They say PUFAs (n-6 and n-3 fatty acids) should range between 6 and 11% of calories.  (R)

Regarding MUFAs:
• There is convincing evidence that replacing carbohydrates with MUFA increases HDL cholesterol concentrations.
• There is convincing evidence that replacing SFA (C12:0 – C16:0) with MUFA reduces LDL cholesterol concentration and total/HDL cholesterol ratio.

The Institute of Medicine’s recommendations (R):

  • Carbs: 45-65%
  • Fat: 20-35%
  • Proteins: 10-35%
  • PUFAs(n6): 5-10%
  • PUFAs(n3): .6-1.2%

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

HOW WOULD YOU RATE THIS ARTICLE?

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 3.20 out of 5)
Loading...
TWEET
0

63 COMMENTS

  • Gracia Xavi

    Hello everyone out there, with a great joy in my hearth I want to share this great testimony on how my son was cured by using the cannabis medication oil which I bought online via this very email: [email protected]

    We never knew that cannabis oil can cure cancer, if not my lovely and adorable husband wouldn’t have die of his prostate cancer, well all the same i still give God all the glory and big thanks to Dr Rick who provided me with CANNABIS oil for my son liver cancer, after i lost my husband to prostate cancer 2 years later my son was diagnosed with cancer of the liver he under-go many chemo’s and radiation treatment in seeking solution to cure the liver cancer i spent all i have but all to no avail until i mean’t a friend of mine who directed me to Rick Simpson Cannabis Oil via Email: [email protected]

    I quickly emailed him and in less than hour, i got a feed back from him and he directed me on how to purchase the medication cannabis oil and he told me the delivery logistics which i quickly responded to,after two days of procuring the oil, the oil was deliver to me as he promise me. immediately my son commenced with treatment with the cannabis oil as directed by the prescription manual.

    To God be the glory after using the oil for couple of months (Three months) my son is free from cancer and today me and my son are living happily but it is a sad story that my husband didn’t have this opportunity to survive it,once again you have to be aware that there is cure for cancer diseases today contact him via his

    Email
    [email protected]

  • David

    Well said Rudy… Muffins?! What’s paleo about them?

  • Rudi

    “subjects were randomly assigned to eat large amounts of muffin”.. the thing with the dangers of saturated fats is that they are dangerous when the concentration in our blood rises… perhaps somewhat counter intuitively this happens especially when we eat large amounts of carbohydrates, not when we consume saturated fat… try this experiment on low-carb and you will see its not the consumption of saturated fats that causes the problem.

  • Adele Elves

    Coconut oil for dogs has been proved to be a great asset. A medium chain fatty acid can contribute to reducing viral and bacterial infection.

  • Jeff

    Could this be why coconut oil is bad for some people? This could be bad for people with digestive/autoimmune issues….

    Sodium Caprate, an ester of Capric Acid (Decanoic Acid; a constituent of milk fat at 2-3% and Coconut Oil at 10%) appears to enhance absorption via reversibly widening the gaps between intestinal cells and allowing passive diffusion.

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FA%3A1018823100761?LI=true

  • Mike

    Remove this whole blog post. The creators of the study fed people MUFFINS??? Instead of feeding human beings processed carbohydrate, how about just feeding them the oils straight and then let’s see what happens. Eating processed carbohydrates causes many types of harmful reactions in your hormones.

    1. Jeff

      agreed, a study that’s stuffs people with muffins is garbage.

  • Anthony M Priestas

    “Thirty-nine young and normal-weight individuals were overfed muffins high in SFA (palm oil) or n-6 PUFA (sunflower oil) for 7 weeks. ”

    You should have realized that this statement has confounding variables. Was the increase in liver fat due to the palm oil or carbohydrate? This study was doomed from the start.

    The quote by Feynman (one of my favorites) only applies to well controlled experiments.

    Do more research. Try again.

  • Dezzer BL

    Coconut oil or Butter have nothing to do with fatty liver. It’s fructose and high fructose corn syrup that are tied to it.

    Plenty of people have attested to this via ultrasounds coming off diets high in fructose and HFCS, then helping cleanse their liver eating a abundance of saturated fats found in coconut oil, butter, eggs, and the like.

  • puddleg58

    Check reference 38 in the Rosqviist paper that inspired this post
    DeLany JP, Windhauser MM, Champagne CM, Bray GA. Differential oxidation
    of individual dietary fatty acids in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;72:905–
    911
    It specifically demonstrates that Lauric acid SFA is oxidised much more quickly than PUFA, which is oxidised more quickly than MUFA, which is oxidised more quickly than palmitic acid SFA.
    The faster rate of oxidation of PUFA over SFA is the reason Rosqvist etal give for their results.
    Clearly coconut oil would have been better than sunflower oil, and butter, having a higher lauric and oleic acid content than palm oil, wouldn’t have been so bad.
    Don’t eat palm oil. It’s bad for orangutans.

  • puddleg58

    Animal study – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424161110.htm

    Human –
    http://adc.bmj.com/content/63/7/840.full.pdf

    Saturated fats are good for the liver. Maybe if you over-feed them with sugar and starch you can store a little fat there (but there was no mention of any actual disease in the feeding experiment you cited originally). But in general, a good thing.

  • puddleg58

    Long term highly saturated fat diet (coconut oil or butter) does not induce NASH in Wistar rats –
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1805500/

  • AustinBrandy

    The Keto diet is specifically designed to intake high levels of fat consumption (with normal caloric intake) while taking in extremely low carbs (10g or less per day) or zero carbs. This switches a signal in the liver to start pulling on/burning the fat for energy fuel instead of glucose.
    This process induces ketosis and has been very successful in rapid weight loss when done correctly and carefully, sometimes with doctor supervision in the most extreme regimens.
    If someone is taking in higher fats eg Palm, coconut, sunflower oils, butter…and still taking in 40g+ in carbs then your liver will not switch on fat for fuel burning, storing it instead, and you will be weak.
    I’m not a doctor – research ketone or Keto diet.
    Coconut oil is your friend but eating fat and carbs together equally is no good!

  • josh

    Is this the world health organisation that also recomends copias amounts of whole grains, manmade iodized salt and 50grams of free sugars (syrups and fruit juices) per day?

    It seems you are searching for affirmation of what happens to work for you.

    The following thing exists:
    Electron transport chain

    The following two things do not:
    Fat transport chain
    Carbohydrate transport chain

  • Jake

    Does fat block the digestion, absorption and utilization of carbohydrates?

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      If you have too much

    2. AustinBrandy

      No but eliminating carbs to as low as only 10g/ day and increasing fat induces ketosis and shifts the level from glucose to fat for energy. Eating both will just cause fat storage wile glucose is used for energy first.
      I’m Not a doctor.

      1. AustinBrandy

        Liver* (not level)

  • Jeff

    My personal experience and the experience of friends in “experimenting” with foods and oils high in saturated fat.

    I have spent the time writing this response hoping that it might save others from making costly mistakes as I have. And I want to make a couple of points relating particularly to the harsh seemingly dogmatic comments on this blog in connection with my personal experience and the experience of a couple of friends in consuming foods high in saturated fat.

    My Story: Firstly I want to say I am SO thankful for this website. 3 or 4 months back a health challenged friend of mine made reference to Joe’s site – and I’m SO glad he did! And I’m so glad I took the time skim over the link he sent cos I soon discovered “Biohacked” is an absolute goldmine of truth! (My friend and I have suffered immune problems for years, done a TON of research, tried a TON of stuff, some proven to be effective but most of it ineffective, and we are always on the lookout for strategies that work.) Out of the two of us I particularly have been very drawn to this website. I have to admit there are some things on it I find a bit odd, and a couple of philosophies I feel really uncomfortable with but that hasn’t deterred me from regularly revisiting it. From the very first week of its discovery I have revisited Biohacked whenever I’ve had the need for specific well-rounded research info regarding health/wellness and “cutting edge” solutions for immune disorders which many bloggers here have, or at least have once had ☺.

    I am currently experimenting with many of J.C’s suggested protocols. Some of them didn’t work or seemed to have minimal effect (ICES for one, not quite what I expected it to be . . . although I may give it a bit more time) however, I have integrated a number of Joe’s other recommendations into my lifestyle which I know and feel are having a very positive effect upon my health and I’m not done yet! I was particularly benefitted by his comprehensive March 14, 2015 article featuring many practical solutions for fatigue. See

    http://selfhacked.com/blog/my-cutting-edge-protocol-to-cure-fatigue/

    Magnification and Groupthink Tendency: Given the fact we live in a consumerism generation bombarded with multitudinous convincing and yet misleading claims and opinions of health experts, marketing hype, the push of “miracle supplements” and “cures” where many of us have experienced the emotional, physical or financial consequences from our poor choices, sometimes based on clever deception and impulse . . . I think it’s vital to be discerning, objective and to avoid “groupthink” mentality. However, I don’t think its wise to over-magnify or minimize all the things Joe advocates that we don’t agree with – especially since we KNOW so much of Joe’s research is based of solid scientific evidence and the consensus of many blogger’s objective/subjective experiences – which is for some of us what counts equally or more than mere scientific tests.

    Context: Firstly, before we are so quick to judge, maybe this blog needs to be considered in the context of Joe’s other articles on saturated fat. I came across this blog by doing a website search under “saturated fat.” Three or four articles popped up and I read them all. So I now have a better idea of the core reason why Joe is not personally a big fan of saturated fat – although what I like is he’s not dogmatic about his choice and doesn’t try to superimpose his opinion on everyone as some do.

    See Joe’s blog “My Experience On a High Fat Diet and Other Anecdotes”
    http://selfhacked.com/blog/experience-high-fat-diet-anecdotes/

    Now, back to my experience: (And I’m not on my own here, I have two friends with similar health challenges to me (immune/digestive-sensitivity energy) who also react very negatively to too much saturated fat in any way shape or form.

    Persistent Negative Side – Effects: A few years back I adopted a typical grain free paleo styled low carb high fat diet in hope of curing terminal ileitis and gaining necessary weight. Although I distinctively remember it having some positive effect on the bowl (less inflammation) I must say I felt really awful – clogged up, sluggish, clogged up, experienced brain fog and felt, depressed, irritable and cognitively impaired.

    Turning Point: While transitioning from another dietary protocol 3 months ago to Joe Cohen’s on fatigue I was still having virgin coconut oil (a high source of saturated fat). Even after adopting most of Joe’s recommended strategies for managing fatigue I knew something wasn’t quite right and I just couldn’t figure out why! So, I made some careful modifications. Things still weren’t right. Providence would have it that in conversation a friend at the time (the one who first pointed out this website to me), he mentioned that he doesn’t do well with coconut oil. (At the time I was really surprised. I didn’t directly question him but thought surely he must be mistaken or imagining it. Looking back now, my thoughts were based on literature I had read which brainwashed me into thinking coconut oil is good for EVERYONE. Now from more than one personal experiment, encounters with other health freaks, and reading what Joe had to say, I am convinced it is not.

    Like Joe, I now believe coconut oil, and perhaps butter, has some health benefits and may help some conditions and people – maybe many but not ALL. For me it was actually harmful). I was daily consuming a well disguised slow killer – a generous serve of homemade coconut yogurt . . which I included in my lunch everyday at work in a job (remedial massage) that demands high energy. How did I feel?? The same way I felt when my health was worse 10 years ago – really crap. A few days ago I dropped it out of my diet (hard choice to make as that stuff is so yummy) and reduced other non Omega 3 sources of fat. How do I feel? Great! What has been the result? In little more or less than a day I felt MUCH better with the reversal of all those negative symptoms. Do I plan to go the other extreme and totally eliminate saturated fat from my diet? No, but from now on I will definitely minimize my intake of it.

    My humble suggestion to bloggers is simply this. By all means choose to include saturated fat in your diet IF you find it works for you. But IF it doesn’t, if your theories don’t match your reality, then you might want to really consider making “radical changes”.

    1. josh

      3 days ago…. You’re willing to post such a definite comment after just 3 days? Regression to the mean?

      1. Jeff

        That’s a fair comment josh. Thank you.

        Actually……. I’ve been meaning to post an update to my above July 6 post “My personal experience ….. in “experimenting” with foods and oils high in saturated fat”. So you’ve just reminded me.

        So here it is! Here’s my FURTHER SELF-EXPERIMENTAL UPDATE that in someways seems to contradict nearly all that I previously said! I’m no expert so I can only share personal experience.
        I will also share my opinion yet that is LARGELY influenced by books, health journals and documentaries containing emperical scientific human trials etc. anyway.

        Since writting that post, through further personal dietary experimentation I have learned some critical lessons that, as just mentioned, seems to turn everything I said on my July 6 post on its head (including the mainstream advice of the National Heart Foundations recommendation). What follows here might seem to be unrelated but in the last paragraph I make my main point relating to saturated fat – or any fat for that matter.

        To those who do’t know, I am recovering from an immune/digestive gut inflammation disorder called terminal Ileitis along with fat malabsorption (steatorrhea). My dilemma is this. Since it is becoming more and more recognized most people with immune mediated gut disorders need to go easy on problematic high calorie carbs, the only other way to make up for the lack of calories is by eating more fat. Yet up till recently I usually had trouble absorbing fats.

        As mentioned earlier, I have spent thousands of hours researching and thousands of dollars on all kinds of “miracle” supplements and “cures”.. I am healthier in some ways but still somewhat underweight

        My work requires high energy and so I am having another crack at the FT Diet – a diet developed by Dr. Norm Robillard that recommends minimizing or avoiding carbohydrate based foods and especially those with a high FP (fermentation potential). Robillard developed a way of scientifically measuring the FP of different foods that I wont explain here. However, the low calorie low FP vegetables, allowable potatoes, small amount of allowable fruits, and zero FP jasmine rice although all fine for my gut and do not feed inflammatory causing SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) simply do not contain enough calories to provide the necessary energy for my work demands as a very busy remedial manual therapist. The other thing is this. Although I respect people’s choices, for a number of reasons I personally prefer not to eat too much fatty meat or fish. So that leaves me with eggs, avocado, coconut products, butter, cream or small amount of nuts and sheep milk yogurt and perhaps homemade soy yogurt which although demonized by individuals strongly opposed to soy doesn’t seem to bother me.
        I have tried using enzymes in the past. Unfortunately, to my surprise, the last powerful prescription pancreatic enzymes didn’t seem to make any noticeable difference. Yet now that I look back, I was on the SCD . . . and probably having too much of the “legal” food (bananas, apples, honey etc.) which I through Robillard’s Fast Tract Diet e-book I now know are a no no and no doubt these seemingly little things likely perpetuated SIBO and although I don’t know for sure but this may have also prevented the full effect of the enzyme.

        Early days yet but I’m confident if I continue to improve and balance my gut microbiome (the microbial world or “zoo” of microscopic living creatures (“friendly bacteria”) in the upper part of my digestive tract then over time the fat malabsorption will take care of itself. And that’s already happening!

        So I’m happy to say in view of my last post things are fast improving!! (I’ll specify in a minute)

        A little over a week ago I re-read some of the positive experiences under the Fast Tract Dieters testimonials. I also read the Amazon reviews of Dr. Wolfgang Lutz’s book Life Without Bread in both German and English. I took note of the ones with people who experienced remarkable recoveries. I noticed they had one thing in common. They ALL, without exception, ate VERY little carbohydrate and starch (less than 72 grams per day) and made up for it by LOADS of protein and particularly loads of fat (butter cream, cheese…) to make up for the lack of carbs. So it is essentially changing the kind of fuel they used for energy. So armed with Fast Tract FP info I decided to make an even more radical dietary change by significantly increasing my fat intake (more than tripled what I used to have) and even further reduce my intake of even low or zero FP foods (both fruit AND low starch veggies). I don’t eat grains. I make sure any animal product I consume is from well cared for free Range sources free from hormones and antibiotics. Yes, I know this contradicts my negative statements regarding saturated fat. If I were to include moderate amounts of carbs to my high fat meals then I’d still stand by those negative comments of mine. And following on from here you’ll see why. However the result of a very low carb/high fat diet over even just a couple of days was dramatic!! And it has now been 3 weeks.

        Here is what I am experiencing

        More sustained energy throughout the whole day.
        Never get hungry between meals
        No more IBD symptoms whatsoever
        No more embarrassing foul smelling gas or flatulence caused by unabsorbed carbs.
        No more major constipation or diarrhea despite less fiber
        Better less sallow complexion (less of my typical jaundice look)
        Shinier healthier looking hair and smooth glowing skin. (Used to have a dull and dry appearance)
        Better overall mood
        Less fatigue with far less need for so much sleep (from 9-10 hours to 5 -7 hours!!!)
        And I assume, better fat absorption coz things don’t “float” in the toilet anymore
        (It may be due to the prescription digestive enzyme I reintroduced but I feel it is more the dietary fuel change.)

        So to me these 10 improvements are not imaginary. They are not or small insignificant improvements like one might experience by trying a new supplement or getting more exercise etc….. These are very noticeable improvements. I am eating much more fat by the way, but not fat from meat and it’s working!!! This might seem very contradictory to my last post but following here explains the reason why.

        Here’s a valuable MAJOR lesson I’ve finally learned which is the result of years of much self-experimentation and I think this could apply to many people with SIBO and serious metabolic, and immune related gut disorders.

        Although I would like to be able to, I simply cannot “mix” the two dietary fuels together. I cannot eat carbohydrate-based foods and protein or fat-based foods at the same meal without suffering the awful consequences of IBD. So it’s one or the other. So I am beginning to think that is was NOT saturated fat that was the problem but the incompatible fuel mix. And I am certainly not in any way suggesting this applies, at least not to the same degree, to everyone.

        If I eat fat including lots of “saturated fat” ON ITS OWN I’m fine. If I eat fat and protein ON ITS OWN I’m fine. If I have the odd carb based meal ON ITS OWN I am ok. Yet if I were to eat a meal, which contains near equal proportions of fat, protein and carbohydrate I know through much experience I’d be in real trouble. However, obviously one cannot be properly nourished by carbs alone. So for now, and I am planning months to follow, until further healing is established and SIBO is under control a high fat and moderate protein diet is in! (Like many people with metabolic disorders (diabetes etc.) I am sensitive to carbs for more reason than one. I still eat the low FP carbs but much less for now while things are going so good, and I’m not willing to risk increasing them at least until I’m fully recovered.

        If there is anything I am convinced of, it is some people’s metabolisms (biological engines) thrive on carbohydrate. Some people’s metabolism thrives on fat. And there are others who are mixed types and so, within reason, it doesn’t matter what they eat. I have noticed not only in my own case but the case of others, if a naturally carb dominant individual (like a fruitarian etc.) CONSISTENTLY eats the fuel best suited to a fat/protein dominant individual, before long it will prove an unmitigated disaster. And if a fat and protein dominant individual REGULARLY fills up with fuel best suited to a carb type it too will prove to be an unmitigated disaster. What’s interesting is that many obese people lose their extra flab and become leaner and more muscular by changing their fuel – which does not necessarily mean reducing their calories but often by increasing them! (In the way of fat). And many underweight people after time gain muscle mass by simply changing their fuel – usually to a very high fat and moderate protein diet

        So I suggest you take charge of your own health. It’s up to each of us to determine exactly what works best for us individually. This ESPECIALLY applies if we have serious seemingly unresolvable health challenges rather than remaining unsure about everything and therefore vulnerable and subject to becoming a slave to any number of well meaning opinions of the so-called “experts”.

        In some ways I feel regretful for submitting my previous July 6 post cautioning against dietary fat. But then again, dietary choices are a very individual issue and if fat is consumed in the correct manner (strictly keeping it separate from oxidising carbs and sugar) it might prove VERY beneficial to some people as it definately did in my case.

        1. josh

          Christ, that’s a long post. I advise you to look at how obsessive compulsive eating can affect conditions.

          1. Jeff

            Yes Josh I agree it is a long post but some of those undergoing similar experiences may appreciate it. (I don’t know much about you, your journey, your background, your needs or what health challenges you face, or have faced.)

            I have already looked at how dietary extremism and different emotional states can negatively impact ones health……I think that area of things particularly among “health nuts” is important to consider and address. I have had my days of extremism – believe me!!!!! (Dr. Carolyn Leaf (Neuro scientist…..) has done a lot of research on the brain and how thoughts and emotions either positively or negatively play a significant role in impacting the overall health. Over recent years I have undergone a lot of emotional healing…….But Josh at this point in my life I don’t think its merely a case of the psyche or any kind of obsession. I know this because I (and I think my friends do) consider myself to be emotionally whole and balanced and as far as the physical/biochemical aspect of things I have done enough self-experimentation to know for CERTAIN what works and what doesn’t work for me. It has been over a month now since I have radically dropped the carbs and upped the good fats and all I can say is that I am feeling absolutely amazing!!!!! This feeling is probably just “normal” for a healthy person. (My hair, skin, energy, mood and most of all my gut has vastly improved). But to convince everyone of how better I feel they’d have to walk in my shoes 🙂

            reply icon
  • Liana

    So they got fatty liver from the palm oil,that is not coconut oil but kinda like it, and actually the fact that they ate this palm oil is LARGE quantities of MUFFINS have nothing to do with the fatty liver

    So must be the coconut oil they are not actually having
    Perfect study

  • Ernst

    I can’t stand not knowing what to eat anymore. I’ve spend the last 3 years reading and reading and listening and watching, but almost any food-group has now research claiming disastrous consequences. I think I’m just going to return to eating everything in modest amounts.

    From this point, I’m simply going to assume all research is inconclusive.
    I think science just can’t crack it at this point in time. Either that, or they’re actively trying to get everyone to die an early death.

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      No, it’s that everyone has different genes. Listen to your body.

      1. Ernst

        Tbh, by now… I want to see stats. Feeling good is not good enough.. Fatty liver, I don’t think you’d feel something like that creeping up until it got to a stage where you’ll indeed feel it. We call that stage “too damn late”.

        1. Joseph M. Cohen

          If you’re thin fatty liver is unlikely. Otherwise, you’d have to do blood and other tests to make sure that you feeling good is reflected in your blood work.

  • Lil Miss Shalla

    wow way to be a fear monger

    you say just enough to sound good
    to have proof
    but you twist it around to fit what you want

    you dont talk about the different TYPES of saturated fats
    how they change your body

    you don’t talk about fact that coconut oil, a highly saturated MEDIUM CHAIN FATTY ACID, has been used in hospitals to help people suffering from malabsorption

    or how medium chain fatty acids break down in the body at a quicker rate so they are actually USED instead of stored like long chain fatty acids

    or how polyunsaturated fats are unstable…. which outside the body can oxidize, go rancid and you wont know it like you would if you tasted a bad egg or a bad apple
    not even mentioning how they can oxidize your cells and make the fragile …

    oh and isnt there that little bit somewhere that talks about how when certain types of oils are heated that accelerates the toxic switch from good fat to kill me quicker

    honestly, the lack of details is like telling a white lie
    just enough truth… just enough to get them lapping up what you say but not nearly enough to have anything you have written be worth the fear you instill and the damage you are encouraging

    cause you know, all those people living off of high amounts of coconut products all their lives and feeding it to their pets and the animals they eat… they obviously have high health problems right?! obviously they died out long ago in africa and the tropical areas..no one could live off such a highly saturated diet *eye roll*

    1. Joe

      What? I speak about lauric acid, which is the main MCT in coconut oil, so I’m not sure that you’ve read the article.

      If you have references as to the health of the people you refer to and the quanitities of coconut oil they consume, I’d appreciate it.

    2. AustinBrandy

      Agreed! I was squirming while reading this because coco oil is a medium chain SFA and is used by the liver and not the blood but I couldn’t word it to explain what I’m learning myself right now!

      1. Hans

        OK, keep squirming but know that coconut oil is *not* a fatty acid, but a plant oil which contains many fatty acids, the majority of which does *not* function as true MCT oil does.

  • Sidney

    Interesting. Oil metabolism has a lot of contradictory results in human trials. I highly recommend reading “PEO Solution” by Brian Peskin and Robert Rowen, M.D. The book is about the benefits of consuming unadulterated forms of the “Parent Essential Oils” (Linoleic Acid and Alpha Linolenic Acid), and the dangers of Fish Oils. Interestingly, the authors say that saturated fat is harmless.

  • Daniel

    Hey Joe,
    thanks for your website. I follow you because someone on the bulletproof forums showed me a link. So I follow you both. I do consume lots of saturated fat and I follow a cyclical cetogenic diet. For me it’s not hard. I enjoy it because I feel much better. My liver seems to be perfect. However my LDL/HDL is bad which is why I supplement with EPA DHA. Regarding the Regarding the high LDL my dctors say I shouldn’t worry about it too much (just about the low HDL).

    My understanding is that the “good” saturated fat will change the LDL particles to the large fluffy kind. What do have to say about that?

    Terry Wahls says in her Wahls Protocol book that high total cholesterol is actually good for brain function.

    Personally I guess that short chain fatty acids are good as long as I’m in ketosis. Because they are digested easily so that I get more energy from it.

    I remember you saying that you lerned to never put yourself into fight or flight mode and you answered in a comment about it you will blog about it. Where is that post?

    Best Regards

  • my-journey-to-good-health

    I found this very interesting; thanx for the post. I personally have noticed that coconut oil–FOR ME–seems to have an opposite effect on my insulin resistance than what experts and scientific studies claim that it will have on it; it stalls weight loss for me, made my IR worse and I never felt “energetic” after ingesting it. It’s interesting to consider ethnic origin as a reason some are OK with handling coconut oil and others are not; I’ve considered this, too. Coconut oil seems to be the “health food/superfood miracle du jour”, but, in the journey to finding and sustaining good health, EACH PERSON MUST EXPERIMENT, USE COMMON SENSE, AND FIND WHAT WORKS FOR THEM. What works for some people will NOT work for everyone, despite claims and studies, which is why more and more people are seeking out “non-conventional wisdom” with their health to seek out what works best for them. I’m happy some have found that coconut oil has helped them; I wish it helped me.

  • Buddy

    May I ask who is the “bulletproof fellow” referred to? Thank you

    1. aribadabar

      Dave Asprey, the Bullletproof Executive.

  • Buddy

    On behalf of millions who might actually believe what is written on this page, sincere regret that you believe in opinions over research.

    A) One limited experiment has little value in the overall scheme of computation, particularly when the basics are misstated.

    B) Muffins? MUFFINS?! No chance of obtaining accurate results of a healthy item, such as coconut oil, when using such poisonous other ingredients. There is no whole grain appropriate for humans, unless, of course, you happen to have six stomachs, because whole grains macerate the epithelial lining of the intestine. Corn muffins, maybe? All fungus, zero nutrition, etc.

    C) This “experiment” did not even involve the oil you are indicting, hahahaha. To state or suggest that palm oil is equal to coconut oil is hardly a position of accuracy, or, in the instant case, much utility.

    D) Oils heated over 108 deg Fahrenheit become markedly toxic to numerous body systems….. except, of course, for flaxseed and coconut oils

    E) Coconut oil lubricates anything sitting in the intestine, including the thousands of previously-ingested portions of flour, etc., that are currently sticking to the inside of your intestinal pockets (many thousands of them), promoting greater motility and elimination.

    F) @Daz (Mar2014) raises a particularly pertinent point regarding palm fruit oil versus palm kernel oil.

    ——————-
    You’re a bright young man, Joe, wouldn’t try to take that from you, and you also earn STANDING ovation for seeking to serve other people. The concern here is that you appear to be shaping your facts around a preconceived determination, leaving less-educated people with the impression that you are speaking with authority of empirical evidence, rather than quoting a decidedly dodgy (and single) study of poisonous muffins and a different oil from the one you are “targeting” here.

    Please recognize how much damage this can carry for those who uncritically accept authoritative-sounding sentences. Of course, if they’re too lazy to do even a bit of research, perhaps they deserve the results they are likely to get if they respect and heed the silliness of proposing (let alone asseverating with such hardly-justified certitude) that coconut oil will damage the liver, or, LOL, raise insulin demand.

    As a former diabetic, I can hardly express my gratitude for coconut oil.

    To all who may consider the sentences on this page, rest assured that EXTRA VIRGIN coconut oil is high up on the list of most of us enjoying thriving health into later decades. Coconut oil is one of the only oils that can take a bit of heat in cooking without destruction of its precious cargo and benefit set.

    Greatly enjoying this website; Would love it more if you could just delete this page, ey?

    Great name for a website, also! Good wishes sent, with affection.

    1. Zac Xing

      Exactly what I wanted to say, this page made me laugh, I see a young man desperately wanting to attain authority(and traffic) thru some ungrounded and unrelated “research”.

    2. Deepak A

      Well Said. There are lot of things in internet and hundreds of studies which are manipulated for sponsors. But we must use our common sense.
      I can say study is junk.We know that white flour or sugar causes fatty liver.So if a person is eating muffins only does not matter which oil, first thing is going to be fatty liver.Its that simple

      1. Deepak A

        Gerson therapy recommends flax oil as the only oil in diet. It has has omega-3 part more, that too like once a week.i think coconut oil is not good but better than other oils.It should not be in large quantities

  • niner

    I don’t have access to the full text, but the abstract (and title) use the word “overfeeding”. The dose makes the poison probably applies here as it does in the consumption of any other substance. Is five grams of coconut oil a day going to hurt me? If I thought it was, I wouldn’t be eating it.

    1. Selfhacked

      I’d be shocked if 5g hurt you. I’d be surprised if 15g hurt you also.

    2. daz

      yes they were overfeeding the subjects ~750 extra calories per day for seven weeks, see their press release for more info, http://www.uu.se/en/media/press-release-document/?id=2240&area=3&typ=pm&na&lang=en

      i do not find it strange that the subjects would gain hepatic and visceral fat when eating excess calories (whatever the source), in this case muffins (fat/flour/sugar/?).

      what i do find a bit odd, is that according to their press release “…gaining weight on excess calories from polyunsaturated fat caused more gain in muscle mass, and less body fat than overeating a similar amount of saturated fat”
      & from the abstract “… excess energy from PUFA may instead promote lean tissue in healthy humans.”

      1. Selfhacked

        Good points. I’ve always said that the macro composition of diet becomes more or less irrelevant if you under consume calories (for healthy people!).

  • daz

    Do we know for sure that this study used palm kernel oil and not palm fruit oil.
    It makes sense that they would use palm kernel oil, since they wanted an oil high in sfa.
    However, the abstract just says palm oil, & a google for palm oil seems to refer mainly to palm fruit oil (not palm kernel oil).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_oil
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_kernel_oil

  • Sidney Phillips

    If you want the highest quality fat for cognition, it is oleic acid by far. The majority of the brain is composed of this fat. Saturated fat is neutral for heart health and negative for cognition. I follow Seth’s blog and this positive butter effect for him seems to be an outlier effect. Another fat that is getting a lot of press in the heath community is omega-7 fat. Proven to be heart healthy (lowers triglycerides greatly, raises HDL slightly, lowers LDL slightly). Macadamia nut oil is the best source for this. In fact, considering Macadamia nut has the highest concentration of oleic acid and omega-7, this may be the the best fat source out there. Olive oil would be #2, as its high in oleic acid but doesn’t have omega-7. Swansons also sells a concentrated fish source of omega-7 and sea buckthorn oil which has a high concentraiton of omega-7 in addiiton to other oils. Interestingly a lot of user reviews on the Swansons website report weight loss using this sea buckthorn oil.

    1. Selfhacked

      I took sea buckthorn oil like 3 years ago. Maybe I’ll give it another go.

      I want to experiment with EVOO in combination with a calorie restricted diet and see how that goes.

      1. aribadabar

        In your experience, what are the top EVOO brands on the market?
        Thanks!

        1. Selfhacked

          Impossible to know. I go for first cold pressed in a dark bottle.

  • Kira

    It seems that coconut oil and other saturated fats can be protective of the liver if you drink alcohol: http://syontix.com/pufas-leaky-gut-endotoxemia-and-the-liver/

    1. Selfhacked

      Post the study

    2. Selfhacked

      Incorporation of coconut oil (CO) rich in lauric acid into the milk diet induces a lipid infiltration of the liver (steatosis) in 1-month-old calves.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11432760

  • Andrey

    Joe, what do you think of Seth Roberts’ obsession with butter? He thinks it makes him perform better: http://blog.sethroberts.net/2010/08/13/arithmetic-and-butter/

    All butter articles on Seth’s blog: http://blog.sethroberts.net/category/animal-fat/butter/

    1. Selfhacked

      -Either it alters his perception and makes him think he’s performing better

      -Or it really does help him, but the results can’t be applied to all others

      -My own experience and other selfhackers (http://quantifiedself.com/2012/07/nick-winter-a-lazy-mans-approach-to-cognitive-testing/) show cognitive decrements.

      So all we can say for certain is that some people claim it helps them, while others claim it hurts them.

  • Dsrx

    Interesting! How about pure MCT? Does it promote fatty liver?

    1. Selfhacked

      Unknown at this point.

      1. Keith

        What do you think of this study that suggests consuming MCT oil is an effective treatment for fatty liver?

        1. Joseph M. Cohen

          Show me the study and I’ll comment.

  • Sidney Phillips

    Something that is less frequently mentioned about coconut oil is that its high content of myristic acid increases cholesterol strongly and the palmitic acid also increases cholesterol. Also with regards to MCT Oil, there is no proof that it is harmless, as the paleo crowd asserts. As MCT oil is processed by the liver, consuming excess amounts of it may overwhelm the liver’s processing capacity and cause fatty liver. The paleo crowd irresponsibly touts the health benefits of MCT oil without a proper understanding of basic biochemistry. It is not burned immediately for energy.

    From my own expereince drinking coffee with MCT oil and Butter my lipid lab parameters went horribly wrong with elevated LDL and total cholesterol. Most importantly my LDL-P (LDL Particle Number) skyrocketed above 2200. LDL-P is the new gold standard for risk of heart disease and consuming saturated fat of any kind will increase it.

    Regarding a prior thread we had on our favorite “bulletproof” fella…he was soundly roasted recenlty on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Joe called him out on his bs claims of mycotoxins in coffee. Basically said all good coffee has miniscule amounts of mycotoxins and there is no proof the amount consumed even in “normal” coffee is harmful. Also, one of Rogan’s friends tested “upgraded coffee” for mycotoxins and claimed to find them in there. The “bulletproof” fella is a perfect example of a guy who has no knowledge of fundamental biochemiestry who twists research to fit his agenda.

    1. Selfhacked

      I agree with everything you say and I’ve mentioned on this blog that these oils have palmitic acid, which the WHO places in the same category as transfat in relation to disease risk.

    2. BUDSAL

      LDL PARTICLE SIZE MATTERS MORE THAN LDL AMOUNT. BIG FLUFFY = GOOD, VERY SMALL LDL = BAD

  • eggdmc

    Interesting. Whenever I would consume it, irrespective of the dosage it would send the cortisol spewing out!

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *