Go Coconuts for a Dose of Healthy Fats

A saturated fat that gets converted to energy.

Coconut oil has gained popularity with athletes, including bodybuilders, over the past few years. This goes against the conventional wisdom from many years ago that argued you should avoid coconut oil because it was high in saturated fats. While the conclusion is wrong, the fact upon which it’s based is true: Coconut oil is high in saturated fats. And that’s exactly why you should consume it.

In fact, coconut oil derives about 90% of its calories from saturated fats. Now the preponderance of recent research and medical opinions recognizes that saturated fats do not cause the damage of heart disease ascribed to them for decades. In fact, saturated fats are a healthy source of energy, and they provide the raw materials you need to support hormone production.

Coconut oil provides benefits compared with many other whole-food sources of saturated fats because it contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). This type of saturated fat is readily used as an energy source. MCTs go straight to your liver where they are converted to energy (including ketones) that you can then use to support intense training. That’s particularly beneficial for athletes on a low-carb plan who want to perform at their peak.

Coconut oil is also a great cooking choice because it has a high-smoke point, meaning it’s better for cooking at higher temperatures. It straddles the line between being a solid and a liquid at room temperature, differentiating it from other oils that are liquid at room temperature and those that remain solid.

BONUS: POST-WORKOUT DESSERT TO BOOST RECOVERY

There’s no time of day when you better deserve—or need—a treat than after a workout. The good news is that many desserts can be a part of your post-workout regimen. The key is to consume sugary treats that are very low in fiber and fats at this time of day. Good examples include angel food cake, jelly on white bread, and, particularly, meringue.

Meringue is made from table sugar and egg whites, and it’s one of the best whole foods for providing you with what you need post-workout to support muscle gains: fast-digesting sugars and protein.

You should add a source of protein to these treats, consuming both right after you finish training. Remember, the goal is to get in fast-digesting protein with sugar to drive nutrients to muscle tissue as quickly as possible to jump-start recovery and maximize growth. Target an equal amount of protein and sugar after workouts, generally 30–50 grams of each.

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