When it comes to diet fads or biohacks, I approach each new claim or discovery with a degree of healthy skepticism. When Paleo diets became a thing a few years ago, I tiptoed through the various claims and “amazing online stories.”
My interest was piqued. After delving into the science a bit, I found that yes, the diet (modified to some degree for my personal lifestyle) helped me lose about 18 pounds and, when I follow it, I feel amazing (full-disclosure: I find Mark Sisson’s Primal Lifestyle approach works best for me since he’s willing to “show me the science”). Also, my blood tests have never been better.
So, in my ever-evolving quest for longevity, I recently cast my skeptical eye towards the Buzzword of the Moment: Coconut Oil.
As a regular reader of Mark’s Daily Apple, I already knew some of the facts: “Coconut oil has been found to help normalize blood lipids and protect against damage to the liver by alcohol and other toxins, can play a role in preventing kidney and gall bladder diseases, and is associated with improved blood sugar and insulin control.”
Coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. When consumed MCTs raise blood ketones and are absorb as energy much quicker than other oils or fats proving to be a more efficient source of fuel than glucose, teh brain’s normal “go-to” energy source. Augmented blood ketones have been shown to boost brain function and may prove helpful in fighting Alzheimers. In a 2004 study, researchers discovered that “elevation of plasma ketone body levels through an oral dose of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) may improve cognitive functioning in older adults with memory disorders.”
Speaking of “oral doses,” my investigation into the oily depths of the coconut led me to new claims about the health benefits of adding coconut oil to one’s coffee.
Led by “Bulletproof Executive” Dave Asprey, several biohackers (would that not be a cool 80’s cartoon?), have claimed a variety of benefits to adding a dollop (i.e. about a TBS) of coconut oil (or in Asprey’s case a special MCT oil blend) to their coffee — some with or without butter. We’ll deal with butter later…
After reading up on MCT’s as well as anecdotes from coconut oil coffee drinkers, I decided to give it a spin. On a rainy Saturday morning, I spooned in a tablespoon of Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil into my morning Joe. As I watched the tiny, white dollop resurface on the ebony waves in my cup, I experienced mild regret. I mean, it’s oil in your coffee. The Ick Factor rises.
Remembering the many positive testimonials, I pressed on. As I stirred away the dollop it transformed into a rainbow sheen and I was surprised to find it provided a nice creamy aftertaste and did not seem slimy or oily. Mission accomplished. The Biohack begins.
Fast forward 20 minutes — I felt amazing. Realizing it may have been a placebo effect, I nevertheless enjoyed the energy rush (not jittery at all) and the feeling of “fullness,” having fulfilled my fat goal for breakfast. I kept expecting a kind of energy crash that never came. This again may have been a placebo feeling but I also experienced a “satisfaction glow” — I felt right with the world and it with me.
I continued the regiment for a few more days and them as often happens with me, I fell off the wagon (or slid off..it is oily). I neglected to add the oil for day consecutive days. From an experimental standpoint, this turned out to be helpful because I now had a data point for comparison. I felt drained, a bit sad and just “not myself.” Going back to the CocoCoffee Regime the next day immediately jump-started my life again. I also noticed I feel mentally sharper — which makes sense given the data.
The real test will come this winter when I have new blood-work — we’ll see if this addition of saturated fat changes my panels. Until then, I plan to enjoy my new cup of CocoHappiness (Team CoCo, let’s talk endorsement?).
BioHack Successful: Drink Coconut Oil Coffee