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Category: Nutrition

Health Benefits of MCT Oil Powder

5 Health Benefits of MCT Oil Powder

I was introduced to the benefits of MCT oil a little over 15 years ago as a natural bodybuilder through Parrillo Performance Nutrition.  John Parrillo was one of the first to promote this super lipid to his clients as a product called CapTri.  The chemical properties medium-chain triglycerides make MCT oil different from other saturated fat sources.  Unlike long-chain triglycerides which can be stored preferentially as body fat medium-chain fats are digested easily and sent directly to the liver as fuel. This means that the liver utilizes MCT oil like a carbohydrate for energy.  As you can see from the graphic a lot of metabolic work comes into play when digesting a long-chain triglyceride as opposed to a medium chain triglyceride.
5 health benefits of mct oil powder
This unique chemical process makes MCT oil highly beneficial for 5 main reasons.

  1. Aids in weight loss or maintenance
  2. Aids in protecting brain health
  3. Aids in protecting heart health
  4. Improves energy levels and mood
  5. Improves digestion and nutrient absorption

MCTs aid in weight loss or maintenance because of their unique ability to be processed by the liver directly into energy making it a great carbohydrate substitution preventing spikes in insulin used for glucose processing.  In the absence of carbohydrates the liver breaks down stored fat or MCTs to produce ketones as a substitute fuel.  In addition the fat provides 9 cal/gram of energy compared to only 4 cal/gram for a carbohydrate.   This means that energy levels can be increased using the same amount of fuel.

benefits of mct oil powderThere is evidence to support that MCTs can have an incredible effect on brain health specifically reversing the effects of Alzheimer’s.  The brain accounts for 20% of energy expenditure of the entire body and metabolic activity is constant over time.  Aging reduces the ability of the brain to process glucose as brain food making brain cells insulin resistant.  Alzheimer’s damages the ability of brain cells to take in the glucose needed for proper functioning causing cells to die.  MCTs can bypass glucose metabolism getting energy directly to the brain and provide instant energy to brain cells without the assistance of insulin.  For more information on MCTs and brain health check out this article.

benefits of MCT oil powderMCTs have beneficial properties that could play a role in preventing atherosclerosis.  It may help to lower lipids, oxidized LDLs, fat deposition, triglycerides and inflammation while raising HDLs.  This may yield a net protective effect on overall risk of heart disease despite potential increases in total cholesterol and total LDL.  In animal studies researchers have found MCTs have anti-coagulation effects that have been shown to lower serum cholesterol and reduce levels of cholesterol in the liver and other tissues.

MCTs are beneficial for balancing gut bacteria.  This has positive effects on digestive symptoms, energy expenditure, and the ability of the gut to absorb vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat. Healthy fats are required to absorb fat-soluble nutrients such as beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A found in plants like berries, squash and leafy greens), vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and lutein.  The lack or absence of healthy fats in the body impairs nutrient absorption.

MCT Oil vs. MCT Oil Powder

This supplement is a perfect addition to the ketogenic and paleo nutritional approaches which favor low carb eating.  Unfortunately, one of the downsides of this oil is gastric distress which has prompted manufacturers to create MCT oil powder.  MCT oil in powder form has many advantages.

  • Convenience – The powder form of this supplement is much easier to take on-the-go and incorporate in any beverage or meal.  The oil can be cumbersome and overwhelming taste wise.
  • Better Digestibility – The powder is easier on the digestive system which allows you to consume more at once.  This leads to higher energy and ketone levels.  A preliminary study on animals also suggests that the powder can improve nutrient digestibility.
  • Cooking Advantages – The powder is easier to add to recipes than the oil.  It adds a creamy texture to whatever it is added to instead of an oily texture.
  • Overall Health Benefits – When the powder is created using high quality fiber like acacia, it can contribute to normalized bowel movements, reduced inflammation in the gut and a longer sense of fullness.

Keto Zone MCT Oil Powder

Not all MCT oil powders are created the same.  Generic powders have a better price tag but have quality tradeoffs as a result.  These tradeoffs diminish or negate the ketone driving potential of the MCT powder.  Higher quality MCT oil powders have the following characteristics.

  • The manufacturer uses a combination of C8 and C10 but does not use C12.  C12 is still an MCT but takes much longer to be converted into energy.
  • The manufacturer uses acacia fiber to create the powder form of MCT oil.  A low quality fiber such as corn fiber, maltodextrin and liquid glucose can spike your blood sugar and stop ketosis, effect your energy levels as the result of a blood sugar spike and trigger digestive problems.
  • The manufacturer avoids using fillers (corn fiber and maltodextrin psyllium husk), emulsifiers (soy/sunflower lecithin, monoglycerides and diglycerides), preservatives (BHA, BHT, TBHQ, sodium benzoate and citric acid) and thickeners (xanthum gum and glycerol).

Keto Zone MCT Oil powder by Divine Keto adheres to the highest quality standards in the production of their supplement for maximal results.  The ratio of C8 to C10 is 70% to 30%.  The manufacturer uses acacia fiber as its carrier powder and adds no extra additives or fillers.  See the nutrient facts below.

benefits of MCT oil powder

 Keto Zone Founder – Dr. Colbert

Dr. Don Colbert has lived on the Keto Zone diet for the last 5 years and has seen results first hand.  He is a board certified physician in anti-aging and a best-selling health author.  Check out this video on the Keto Zone Diet!

 

make homemade bone broth

How to Make Homemade Bone Broth

I am not much of a cook and rely on my husband heavily for his role as head chef.  He has morphed his cooking to suit my food allergy restrictions making creative meals for me within a limited range of foods.  Recently, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and make homemade bone broth.

Why Make Homemade Bone Broth?

Bone Broth is an ancient elixer that has transcended time and made a resurgence into the American diet.  Out of necessity and survival Ancient man used all parts of the animals they killed.  They boiled what they could not use for clothing or tools extracting the maximum amount of nutrients from their prey.   make homemade bone brothOver the centuries Bone broth has become a staple of many different cultures who tout its digestive benefits.

Sally Fallon’s first book, “Nourishing Traditions,” and the Weston A. Price Foundation were responsible for changing my views on food.  It was finding these resources a little over 10 years ago that started me on a journey to gain control over the severe food allergies that had appeared as an adult.  Ms. Fallon is a leader of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a group dedicated to promoting the benefits of preindustrial food and cooking. Dr. Price was an early-20th-century dentist who became preoccupied with the effects of traditional diets and postindustrial diets on dental health, as well as health in general.  The foundation was the first to provide cutting edge nutritional information that defied the conventional food pyramid recommending a ridiculous 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta and conventional wisdom concerning the dangers of saturated fat.  make homemade bone brothAlthough there are few reliable studies on the medicinal effects of broth, the foundation has done analysis that shows it may provide benefits for inflammatory diseases, digestive problems and even dopamine levels.  This group is truly independent as it does not rely on any government funding for its research.

How to Make Homemade Bone Broth in a Slow Cooker

make homemade bone brothMy broth of choice is made from beef bones, but the procedure outlined below can also be used for pork, chicken or fish bones.   The only difference would be the amount of cook time required to leech all the nutrients from the bones.  The rule of thumb is the larger the bone the longer the cook time.

  • Pork bones – simmer for 12-24 hours
  • Chicken bones – simmer for 12-24 hours
  • Fish bones – simmer for 4-6 hours

Step 1

make homemade bone brothFirst thing to do is to find a great local butcher who can help you with your bones, especially the beef and pork bones.  Our butcher cuts a great big knuckle bone for me at $.50/lb and then I add rich marrow bones at $1.99/lb.  Total cost for the bones is $6.54.  Making broth and using it in everyday meals is a great economical way to amp up nutrition.  There is a fat cap that coagulates when the broth is refrigerated that can be used as a cooking lipid.  Also the broth itself can be used as a base for many other dishes.

Step 2

The next step in the process is to roast the bones to release more flavor into the broth.  I roast my bones for 40 minutes at 450 degrees flipping the bones at the 20 minute mark. make homemade bone broth While the bones are roasting I cut up the vegetables I plan to add to the stock.  These include: 2 carrots, 1 leek, 1 medium onion, 3 bulbs of garlic and thyme.  I am a huge garlic and thyme fan.  You can cut back on the garlic and add any other herb that you like.  The vegetables that are added will melt down to mush by the end of the cooking process and strained out of the final product.

 

Step 3

make homemade bone brothNow it is time to assemble the individual parts into the crockpot.  I place the roasted bones into the pot with 2TBS of apple cider vinegar (helps break down bones).  Then I add 6-7 cups of water just enough to cover the bones.  Lastly I add the veg.  I use a Crockpot, make homemade bone brothSmartpot, 6 quart slow cooker with preset cook times.  It makes the process of making stock super easy.  There are two high settings for 4 or 6 hours and two low settings for 8 or 10 hours.  I start my broth on a 4 hour high setting and then 4 subsequent 10 hour low setting sessions.  When a setting is done the Crockpot will go into warming mode.  I found this helpful if I miss my timing somewhat as it keeps the cooking going.  According to comments on Crockpot’s site this model runs hotter than most which was a detriment to their cooking goals but an advantage for mine.  A better Crockpot model for this task would probably be the Crockpot, 6 quart programmable slow cooker because it gives you more flexbility in your timed cycles.  It is considered a Amazon Best Seller.  Check out the link to the right!  Either will get the job done.

Step 4

make homemade bone brothSo now that my broth has cooked for 48 hours it is time to strain out both the bones and veggies.  I let mine cool for a couple of hours before attempting to pull the crock out of the warming sheath.  I use a bowl with a pouring spout to make filling my half gallon canning jars quick and easy.  My strainer is 8 inches in diameter which gives me a good amount of capacity in the straining process.  I remove my bones with tongs and set them aside.  The bones should look somewhat disintegrated.  I use a slotted spoon to remove the veg and put it in the strainer.  I can get a cup or more of broth just from the veg.  My recipe yields almost a full gallon of broth.

Step 5

make homemade bone brothPour the nutritious and delicious broth into half gallon canning jars.  You should let the broth sit and come down to room temperature before putting the lid on and refrigerating.  When you pull the broth from the fridge you will have a combo of broth and a thick fat cap.  As I mentioned earlier the fat cap creates an amazing cooking lipid that can be used to saute.  I have found the fat is infused with a deeper flavor than the broth itself.

Some Products to Consider When You Make Homemade Bone Broth

Making homemade bone broth can be a fairly easy process if you have the tools available from start to finish.  I love the idea of set it and forget it!  I mentioned the programmable slow cooker above as a better choice to my crockpot.  If you want to give broth a try you may also want to consider these other tools as well.

make homemade bone broth
make homemade bone brothmake homemade bone borth
control insulin for fat loss

Control Insulin for Fat Loss – Lose the Sugar!

A few weeks back I wanted to find my copy of an old Bill Starr book, The Strongest Shall Survive. I found my old copy on a lower book shelf that I rarely look through. Next to Bill’s book was a copy of Primal Body – Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas. I had zero memory of purchasing this book. I plucked it off the shelf and could not for the life of me remember where or when I bought the book. As I perused the book, I could not believe I had purchased it and not read it: it was chockfull of insights. The premise of the book is twofold…

  • We need to shift our metabolism from sugar-burning mode into fat-burning mode to control insulin for fat loss
  • To accomplish this, we need to eliminate starch and sugar

Nothing more, nothing less. Modern man is obese and unhealthy because modern man has a carb-burning metabolism and lives on sugar. Primal man was lean and healthy because primal man had a fat-burning metabolism and lived on protein and fat.

Primal Man

From the beginning of the human species up until the widespread introduction of agriculture (usually pegged at 10,000 years ago,) all men everywhere had fat-burning metabolisms. For hundreds of thousands of years, primal people primarily existed on the animals they hunted and killed. They would augment animal meat with whatever fruits, vegetables, insects, nuts, berries or wild honey they would happen across – but these foods were accidental and incidental and always occurred in proximity to game.

control insulin for fat loss
Primal men would migrate with animal herds, parasitic vampires that clung to the herd’s periphery.  Primal men were as nomadic as the animals they followed to survive. Until the advent of formalized agriculture (an eye-blink) carbohydrates played a small part in the human diet. Man evolved and became fully formed hunting and eating animals.

Primal man might on occasion come across some wild fruit or vegetables, perhaps some honey, but this represented an insignificant and irregular part of the ancient’s diet. Protein and fat, derived from wild animals, was the primary source of calories. The hunter-gatherer societies existed for hundreds of thousands of years as mankind fully evolved, eating protein and fat, augmented with a small amount of natural carbohydrates and natural sugars. This high-octane, nutrient-dense diet became the optimal food/fuel for the human body. It still is.

Agriculture Changed Everything

Humans no longer had to hunt to eat. They no longer had to migrate in synchronization with animal herds. They could settle in one place and grow crops. They could survive on what they planted and harvested.  The advent of agriculture created all kinds of foodstuff possibilities. With grains, man created baked goods, beer, wine and liquor. Humans began existing on cheap, low-grade carbohydrate as their primary food-fuel.

control insulin for fat loss
All modern heath maladies emerged when man created agriculture and lifted the lid on Pandora’s Box.  Before the advent of agriculture there was no obesity, diabetes, clogged arteries or heart disease. Before the advent of agriculture men were larger and stronger, fitter and more muscular. Mankind degraded when the food-fuel of choice shifted from protein and fat to starch and sugar.  It was akin to trying to run a 600-horsepower Ferrari 488 on kerosene.

There was a widespread shift in nutrition, a replacement of protein and fat with much cheaper and easier to obtain carbohydrates.  Carbs created geographic stability, it was the end of the nomadic lifestyle of hunter-gatherer.  Primal societies were replaced with villages, towns and cities.

The core contention, the most profound thing Gedgaudas says is that, other than protein, fat and fibrous carbohydrates, anything you eat or drink is undigested sugar and once consumed is converted into sugar.

control insulin for fat loss

This simple Simon, Forest Gump-like profundity, this irreducible Zen factoid, resonated with me. Eat a bagel and it is turned into sugar (6 teaspoons of glucose) by the body. Drink a beer and it is turned into sugar. Eat pasta, a muffin, any starch carb, drink any kind of booze or soda and it becomes sugar when digested. When food or drink is digested and emulsified it is turned into glucose.  Excess glucose spikes insulin. No fat burning is possible in the presence of insulin. \

The solution is easy. Stop eating anything that isn’t a protein, fat or fiber.

Any nutrients consumed other than protein/fiber/fat are converted to sugar.  Sugar spikes insulin. When insulin lingers in the bloodstream, no fat burning is possible. If the system is never clear of insulin, no matter how hard you train, no matter how much cardio you do, no body fat can be mobilized and oxidized. Simple as that.

This nugget of knowledge made everything related to diet and leanness emerge from the fog of opinion into the crystal-clear clarity of useable knowledge. The first order of business for anyone serious about leaning out is to stop eating sugar and starch and purge the bloodstream of insulin. This isn’t rocket science: how do we clear the bloodstream of insulin? Stop eating anything other than protein, fat or fiber carbs. Stop eating anything that gets converted into sugar.

The goal is to shift the metabolism from a sugar-burning (glucose) metabolism into a fat-burning metabolism. How is this accomplished? Deprive the body of sugar.

Conclusion

The clarity of Gedgaudas’ message resonated with me. It clarified reality. Sugar and starch (and trans-fats) are my enemy. The bad news is that it could take 4-6 weeks of strict dietary adherence to shift a metabolism from sugar-burning to fat-burning. That’s a long time. Still, it intrigues me and clarified so many dietary questions. I really feel I now know everything I need to know about dieting.  See more information on Marty Gallagher.

They have a saying about the card game Texas Hold ‘em, “it takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.” I feel like I just got taught the dietary equivalent of Texas Hold ‘em.

life force

Can Intermittent Fasting for Women Help or Hinder the Transition Through Menopause?

Recently I turned 51 years old.  Like women my age I am going through the process of perimenopause on my way to menopause and experiencing the negative side effects of night sweats, mood swings, etc.  This life change can bring about many negative consequences in our physiology as the fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone decreases and becomes erratic.  The question for me was:  Can intermittent fasting for women help or hinder the transition through menopause?  Could a 16 hour fasting diet help me to gain more control over the erratic fluctuations of hormones during menopause reducing their negative side effects?

What is the HPG Axis?

hpgaxisTo answer this question I first had to gain an understanding of how the HPG feedback loop works.  During puberty the HPG axis is activated by estrogen from the ovaries causing physiological and psychological changes.  This axis becomes deregulated leading to menopause.  HPG represents the hypothalmus, pituitary and gonadal glands located in the brain.  The HPG axis is signaled by kisspeptin to secrete follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) and luteinizing hormones (LH) that are responsible for the creation of estrogen and progesterone.  During the menopause transition FSH and LH levels rise because the number of ovarian follicles becomes fewer and the body produces less of the hormone called Inhibin B.

Females have higher kisspeptin levels than men.  Fasting drives kisspeptin levels down causing ghrelin levels to rise.  Ghrelin is the hunger hormone and alters classic dopamine signaling. Dopamine signaling in the hypothalmus is linked with feeding behavior. As ghrelin levels rise leptin levels decrease.  New science shows that obese women are more resistant to fat loss when there are increased leptin levels or leptin resistance.   Improved dopamine signaling can improve cognitive functioning of the brain.  A healthy HPG axis is important for intermittent fasting to be successful.

What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?

Intermittent fasting is a diet strategy where you fast for an extended period of time followed by a shortened eating window.  Within your eating window you must significantly reduce and eliminate any carbohydrates as this will negatively impact the diet process.  Fasting increases insulin sensitivity which allows the body to preferentially use fat stores for energy.  This strategy takes advantage of the fasting that occurs while you are asleep and gives you a 6-8 hour jumpstart into the fast depending on your sleep cycle.  This may seem like a daunting task.  Consider by starting with a food awareness week where you fast for 12 hours and eat for 12 hours.  Then add a couple of hours each subsequent week until you get to your desired fasting time.  The table below outlines 3 potential fasting strategies.

Fast Eat
16hrs 8hrs – 2p-10p
18hrs 6hrs – 3p-9p
20hrs 4hrs – 4p-8p

What are the Benefits of IF?

IF helps the body take advantage of increased insulin sensitivity that occurs in the last 1/3 of day.  Increased insulin sensitivity has many positive effects.

  • Increase in human growth hormone (HGH) = increase muscle
  • Increase in lipolysis = increase fat burning (decreased insulin levels tell calories to go to mitochondria instead of fat cells)
  • Increase in cellular autophagy = recycle proteins/clearing away of damaged cells
  • Decrease in insulin levels = pancreas does not have to raise insulin levels to store nutrients

During the IF eating window meals must be high fat with little to no carbohydrates.  Fat sustains and balances blood sugar and when not eating enough fat the body can revolt with a condition known as reactive hypoglycemia. Carbohydrates are insulin spikers for the pancreas.  When insulin is high the body can’t burn fat.

Why You Might NOT Benefit from IF?

IF as a diet strategy requires that the hormones need to be stable and balanced so the body doesn’t perceive 16 hours as a stressor.  A lot of women have spent their adult lives eating low fat, low calorie meals starving themselves in pursuit of weight loss damaging the metabolism.  In addition menopausal women are suffering from a natural fluctuation of hormones that brings about symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, etc. that further throws the metabolism off.   In my research I found that intermittent fasting for women can sometimes have a negative impact on a female’s hormonal state.  This strategy is not good for people with low blood sugar, active thyroid or female hormonal issues.  It is important to make sure that the adrenals, female hormones and thyroid are functioning properly if you want to pursue intermittent fasting.  Adrenal fatigue contributes greatly to the imbalance of hormones.  A hormone balancing product I often recommend to clients to help with this imbalance is called Integrative Therapeutics Cortisol Manager.

How to Prepare the Body for IF?

Optimizing nutrition will help to restore proper blood sugar levels that are essential for balancing hormones within the brain.  If not eating enough calories in 8 hour window during the fast the hormonal cycle will be altered.  A good transition to intermittent fasting would be to follow the recommended foods of the ketogenic and paleo diets.  These two diets help to identify healthy carbohydrates.  The reduction of carbohydrate levels as we age is the key to a healthy lifestyle.

Ketogenic Food List/For additional help purchase the Ketogenic Cookbook with meal plans

Paleo Food List/For additional help consider the PaleoPlan Special Offer for New Members

In order for IF to be successful a good control over carbohydrate levels is necessary.  Once this goal is achieved consider Crescendo fasting.  This is a great way to prepare the body for IF.

Crescendo Fasting Intermittent Fasting
Fast 3 non-consecutive days per week.

(Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)

Fast 7 days per week.
Fast for 12 hours increasing fast time by 1 hour per week to reach desired IF time. Fast for 16, 18 or 20 hours.

For a great overview on the rules of intermittent fasting, please see the following video.

Conclusion

After my process of discovery into intermittent fasting for women I decided to give it a try.   I utilized Crescendo fasting for the first couple of weeks and found that it was not difficult by the end of the second week to achieve the 16 hour fasting period.  In one of the videos I watched it was recommended to use butter coffee as a pure fat bomb to help food cravings in the last 4 hours of the fasting period.  It helped to initially to take me through hours 13-16 of the fast.  I then expanded to a full intermittent fasting technique.  I am absolutely experiencing the positive effects of IF and plan to continue my experiment.