Should I Still Use Coconut Oil on My Keto Diet?

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Should I Still Use Coconut Oil on My Keto Diet?

Coconut oil attracted everyone’s attention in 2015 when experts promised it could boost immunity, increase fat burning, reduce hunger, and even kill harmful microorganisms. Many people on the keto diet began adding coconut oil to their daily routine as a supplemental energy source because of the reduction in carbohydrates, which is critical to the keto diet.

Recently, a Harvard University professor delivered a lecture that called coconut oil “pure poison.” Rachel Wagner, MS, LD, a licensed dietitian at the St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center weighed in, “There is controversy surrounding coconut oil, and although I believe more studies are needed to know the truth, I feel it still plays a role in the Keto Diet.”

Many scientists agree with Rachel—more evidence is needed to support the long-term health benefits of coconut oil. But most agree, it is better than a solid or hydrogenated fat, like shortening or margarine.

The Role of MCT Oil in the Keto Diet

The keto diet requires at least 50 percent of all your calories come from fat. But, not all fats are created equal.

MCT oil, or medium-chain triglyceride oil, is one of the fats in coconut oil. Medium-chain triglycerides break down faster and enter your system as ketones faster than other fats such as olive oil, which is a long-chain triglyceride.

Rachel explains, “Essentially MCT oils act as a carbohydrate and provide a quick source of energy to anyone on the keto diet. This type of fat is more readily absorbed, entering the liver faster, and more quickly entering into the bloodstream as ketones.”

Most fats you eat on the Keto Diet will come from foods naturally high in fat, like meat, dairy. But you can add good fats by using plant-based fats (think olive oil or nuts). MCTs are added with coconut oil or other MCT oils in recipes or by eating it raw.

MCT oil also comes in a pill supplement, but Rachel cautions not to substitute the supplement for coconut oil. She says, “Most MCT supplements are not natural, it is manufactured but it can provide an immediate energy source. Coconut oil is one of the best food sources of MCTs; but remember that not all the fat in coconut oil is in the form of MCTs, but both have benefits that may help you on the keto diet.”

If you need help keeping your weight goals on track, talk to your primary care physician or schedule an appointment at the St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center by calling (859) 212-4625. You can also watch our free medical weight management seminar online.