Why coconut milk and other “good” saturated fats wont make you fat

Coconut milk

I’m going to jump straight this time and tell you the truth:  Coconut milk is high in saturated fat, but no, coconut milk wont make you fat. Now some of you not familiar with the benefits of a diet high in good fats might think I’ve gone mad. But read on, it took me a while to get my head around this myself, but now I can happily report that I love saturated fats, eat plenty of it and I am currently leaner than I have ever been in my adult life.

I am not a scientist, so I am not going to go into detail, but here are some basics. We tend to think saturated fats are bad for us and will clog our arteries because that is how it has been portrayed in the media because of flawed studies from many years ago. But what isn’t commonly known is that saturated fats are a great source of energy, hence why our bodies store excess carbohydrates as fat in our bodies… to fuel us. Body fat is energy that can be utilised later on. But your body can utilise eaten fat as well as stored fats as fuel.

Now, let’s get onto carbohydrates. Every type of carbohydrate eaten gets converted into a simple form of sugar known as glucose. Glucose is also fuel for your body, but in excess amounts when not being burned inside your cells for fuel it cleverly gets stored in cells where the body can access it for anaerobic exercise purposes. The bad news is that once those cells are full, the body stores it as saturated fat. That is right, if you are inactive and eating high amounts of carbohydrates, your body is storing the majority of your low-fat high carbohydrate meal that you might think of as healthy, as fat.

Research already out there proves that healthy saturated fats such as coconut fats, fat from animals who naturally graze on grass and fats from fish are all essential to our health and energy levels, and even good for our arteries.

Surprised? I was when I first found this out. On the other hand, it was back in the 70s that Robert Atkins found out through research papers that eating a high fat, low carbohydrate diet can not only help people lose weight, but lower their cholesterol levels and benefit people with type II diabetes. Dr Atkins himself was a cardiologist afterall. But let me be clear, I’m not saying the Atkins diet is the answer, I personally believe we need a bit more colour and thought as to the types of fats we consume than is generally accepted on the Atkins diet. But the theory of  the effects of carbohydrates vs fats on the body is spot on. For more information regarding fats, I recommend you visit the popular blog Marksdailyapple where Mark Sisson has some well researched articles regarding this subject including his definitive guide to Insulin, Blood sugar levels and type II diabetes as well as his definitive guide to Saturated fats.

The fact that ‘fat doesn’t make fat’ was a revelation to me after years of being on low-fat even fat-free diets that were high in carbohydrates. During university my sister (who is now a doctor) and I went on a vegetarian fat-free diet where we could eat as much sugar/bread as we liked as long as we never ate anything with more than 3% fat per 100g. Over that time I was the unhealthiest I have ever been, with my nails soft & cracking, hair thin and dry, bad skin and struggling to keep my weight down. So I for one have seen the benefits of eating and enjoying the real full fat foods that have been available to us humans for ages.

So if I can offer you all one piece of advice today – ditch the fat-free/low-fat foods. They are full of stuff we shouldn’t be eating. My much-loved step-father who recently passed away always use to tease us when we would drink fat-free UHT milk, telling us we were drinking ‘shoe polish’. Now I think he was right.

Have a happy healthy Sunday,

Hanri & Banjo


PS: In case you’re wondering. Banjo also enjoys a low carbohydrate, grain-free diet full of good quality saturated fats. And he looks amazing.