With the new Spicy Vegan Phat Fudge in full swing, we thought it might be a good idea to highlight one of the main ingredient differences between Spicy Vegan Phat Fudge and Original Phat Fudge … enter Coconut Butter. Spicy Vegan Phat Fudge enthusiasts rejoice, your animal-free lipid dreams are coming true.
SO WHAT'S COCONUT BUTTER?
Is that when you mix butter and coconut oil to make a hybrid fat bomb unlike anything ever seen on the face of the earth? Close, but not quite. Coconut butter is made from grinding the meat of a coconut into a fine paste with a texture reminiscent of, drumroll … butter. Coconut butter can be used as a spread over toast, in a smoothie for added thickness or even as a natural skin moisturizer. Also, hint: if you’ve ever seen Coconut Manna, it is just Coconut Butter hiding under a fancy nomenclature bow on it. Same same, no difference.
COCONUT OIL VS COCONUT BUTTER - WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
Both are made from the meat of a coconut, but the difference comes down to the process of creation. Coconut oil can be made in a variety of ways, usually with some sort of pressure, ranging from cold to expeller. All of which separate oil from the meat of the fruit (technically a coconut is a drupe if you want to impress your friends). As mentioned earlier, coconut butter is made by blending the meat of the coconut down into a paste.
So with the power of deduction, what is one of the advantages of coconut butter over oil? Our gut health promoting, insulin level stabilizing friend, fiber. So if you love the fats from coconut oil, but want a bit more fiber in your diet, coconut butter is a great substitute.
PHAT FACT: Coconut oil is about 92% saturated fat, and about 65% of those are Medium Chain Triglyceride (1)
SATURATED FATS AND SATIETY
Eating fat tends to reduce our feelings of hunger throughout the day. We can thank our good friends polyunsaturated (PUFA) and saturated fats (SFA) for that, although there are substantially more SFAs than PUFAs in coconut butter. In a recent study, it was shown that intake of both PUFA and SFA down-regulate our hunger hormone, ghrelin while up-regulating our satiety hormone Peptide YY (PYY). (2)
So we could deduce that eating coconut butter first thing in the morning would have the potential to reduce overall hunger throughout the day. I wonder if there is something that has coconut butter in it, that is super portable and that could be eaten on the go during those busy mornings … hmmmmm.
Eat Phat Fudge in the morning, people. Science says do it.
GET ON BOARD WITH MCTs
The only thing medium about MCTs is their carbon chain length people. They really should be called EMCTs (Extra Medium Chain Triglycerides) for all the benefits they bring to those that consume them. Alright, dad jokes aside, let’s get into MCTs.
Structurally speaking, Medium Chain Triglycerides have anywhere from 6-10 carbon atoms, whereas Long Chain Triglycerides range from 12-18. That may not seem like a big deal, but it makes a difference in how the body digests them. Due to their shorter chain length, MCTs actually circumvent the standard digestive process and go directly to the liver, where they are used as fuel to create ketone bodies (3).
When it comes to coconut butter, and its MCT constituents, Capryllic (C8) and Capric (C10) acid are the stars of the show. The third major triglyceride in coconut oil is lauric acid … notice how I don’t call it an MCT, because its not. You’ll see lauric acid listed in a lot of different MCT supplements, and honestly I’m ok with that because of the benefits that it brings along with it. Lauric acid (C12) makes up about 50% of all fatty acids in coconuts, and just because it’s not an MCT doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have big time benefits. Lauric acid is a potent anti-microbial fat that can fight off bodily viruses and bacteria ranging from candida to acne. (5)
MCTs have been previously found to promote lipid catabolism and weight loss, however their impact on metabolic health doesn’t end there. Recently MCTs have been found to improve the health of intestinal flora, thus building a healthier and more efficient gut microbiome. (6)
Without diving into too much detail about different human energy systems, I’d like to explain how MCTs can help athletes be less carbohydrate dependent. There are three energy systems in the body, the Lactic Acid System is the most carbohydrate dependent of the three that kicks in when the body is in its highest oxygen debt. Studies have shown that ingestion of MCTs may allow for the suppression of blood lactate during moderate-intensity exercise. In short, eating foods containing MCTs right before a workout will allow you to be less reliant on stored carbohydrates, and more likely to extend the duration of your exercise. (7) That was a very simplified explanation of how the energy systems react to MCTs, for those of you that know a lot more than me, please don’t shoot me.
Last but not least are the neurological benefits of MCTs! The brain has been considered glucose dependent for a very long time, but recently a few studies have shown that another energy source is capable of powering our squishy pink things. MCTs are capable of permeating the blood-brain barrier, allowing them to become a quick and efficient source of energy. (8)
COCONUT BUTTER, IN THE WILD
We’re all about actionability here, so lets answer the question of when coconut butter is best suited to be used in your day!
- Early in the morning, as part of a smoothie or bowl (Unicorn Fuel)
- Immediately before moderate to intense exercise
- Before any task requiring your brain to be on fire … studying, presentations, client meetings, etc