Everything You Wanted to Know About MCT Oil

Everything You Wanted to Know About MCT Oil

MCT oil has been a big deal in the paleosphere since bulletproof coffee surfaced as the new wellness trend.

While I’m not a huge fan of dosing myself with caffeine and fat while fasting (in fact, I never do it), I do really believe that MCT oil can have some great benefits. I use it while cooking sometimes (this is my fave). This is because MCT Oil may be able to surpass coconut oil for its nutritional, physical and cognitive benefits.

What is MCT Oil?

MCT’s, or Medium Chain Triglycerides, are a form of fat that is digested differently than an LCT (long chain triglycerides) or SCT (short chain triglycerides). (For more detail on the molecule content, click here.) They’re unique because short chain and long chain triglycerides are metabolized in the digestive system. MCT’s are metabolized in the liver for faster, cleaner conversion to energy or ketones. Ketones are the highly valued component in the ketogenic diet.

While I am not the biggest fan of ketosis, ketones can be wonderful.


4 types of MCT

There are four types of MCT’s, distinguished by carbon content.

C6 – Caproic Acid : is one type of MCT, the shortest of the medium chain triglycerides. This MCT is known as the MCT behind “disaster pants” or a negative digestive side effect resulting in immediate bouts of diarrhea.

C8 – Caprylic Acid : This MCT contains 8 carbon molecules. Because of the smaller amount of carbon content, C8 is easily transferred metabolized into ketones in the liver resulting in instantaneous bursts of energy.

C10 – Capric Acid : This MCT contains ten carbons. The addition of two extra carbons means the MCT reaction is more delayed in the body than C8, but still faster than C12.

C12 – Lauric Acid : The longest of the medium chain triglycerides, C12 is also closest to resembling the molecular structure of an LCT. Like C10, C12 is digested in the liver the slowest, and ketone production can only occur if you are on a low carb diet.

 

Why are people using MCT oil to begin with?

 

  • Eliminating Brain Fog
    Because the carbon content of these triglycerides is less than that of their shorter and longer cousins, they are digested faster and more readily resulting in a more immediate release of energy and clarity. In addition, MCT’s do not require additional energy to digest or be metabolized in the body, so the energy you receive from consuming MCT’s can immediately turn over into a clean form of energy.         
  •  Ketosis
    With all the commotion regarding ketogenic diets these days, MCT’s have been put in the spotlight as commonly seen as an important partner for those on the ketosis diet. Many people who try to do ketosis focus on MCT oil because it further helps their body build up ketone levels in the blood. Interestingly enough, eating a low or zero carb diet, contrary to popular opinion, is not necessary to have ketones in the blood, exactly because you can achieve the same effect from MCT oil. To read more about this ‘shortcut,’ check out this post.
  • Gut and Skin health
    MCT’s containing Lauric Acid (from coconut oil) are known to be antiviral and antibacterial. This has led researchers to believe that MCT’s can contribute to healthy gut flora by stabilizing the bad bacteria. The derivative of Lauric Acid, Monolaurin, has shown antimicrobial activity against bacteria, fungi and viruses. Lauric Acid is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties against acne.  This combined with its antimicrobial properties make it a great supplement to promote a healthy gut reduce inflammation.
  • Weight Loss
    This is a debated topic amongst MCT consumers. Many believe that MCT aids in weight loss, and several studies conducted contribute to this mindset. This study compared individuals using LCT vs MCT and in the course of 4, 8, and 12 weeks demonstrated that those ingesting MCT’s “lost more subcutaneous fat than their counterparts using only LCT.” A lot of this can be attributed to the satiety produced by consuming MCT’s resulting in less consumption of food overall. This inhibits our leptin receptors which also may lead to increased overall satiety. Curious regarding the other ways leptin affects us? Check out this post here.

          (I happen to have a program for healthy and sustainable weight loss if you’re into that sort of thing, which you can check out here!)

How to use it

MCT can be found in coconut and palm oils and high fat dairy products, but is most commonly used in a liquid form, like this one that I have been using. Mixing with coffee or tea in the morning is a common and effortless way to ingest the MCT’s. Start small first, and work your way up to the recommended dose. My friends say a good way to start is by putting a teaspoon in coffee, but I mainly stick to using it in food as that can have less digestive effects. If you do use the coffee method, I recommend consistently stirring or whisking your coffee or tea, as the oil can congeal towards the top of your beverage.

MCT oil can be used in :

  • Smoothies
  • Dressing
  • Oatmeal
  • Teas or Coffee

In food sources, MCT is most highly concentrated in palm oil, and then coconut oil. High quality cheese also contains a substantial amount of MCT’s. Goat’s milk total percent fat content of MCT’s is 19.8%, however it is barely near the 79% found in palm oil. For a full chart of foods containing MCT’s, click here.

The Verdict?

MCT oil really has no drawbacks, so long as you’re using a high quality source.

MCT’s ability to be metabolized in the liver and immediately make ketones creates a clean instant burst of energy that lasts. This is perhaps my favorite part – the long energy and satiation.

Also, because of the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties found in Lauric Acid, MCT oil can also be an excellent way for those with autoimmune conditions to metabolize fat and boost immune systems. MCT can stray leptin cues however, so ensure you are listening to your body and feeding it the proper amount of food while supplementing, especially carbs!!  

I would love to know about your experiences. Have you tried MCT oil? If so, what was your experience like?

10 Paleo Pumpkin Treats To Get You Through Pumpkin Spice Season

10 Paleo Pumpkin Treats To Get You Through Pumpkin Spice Season

We all know and have lived the madness of fall, a season quickly becoming known otherwise as Pumpkin Spice season. I find it difficult to look anywhere and not be bombarded by Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING.

Seriously. Everything comes in pumpkin spice flavor these days.

While enticing, so many of the Pumpkin Spice products are highly processed and don’t contain even a small bit of the nutrients found in pumpkin (the amount of nutritional goodness in pumpkin and pumpkin seeds is mindblowing!)

BUT, that does not mean you have to miss out on Pumpkin Spice season. Luckily, so many of our paleo friends have experimented with healthier recipes that are delicious, great alternatives.

Below I have gathered a few of my favorite pumpkin spice treats, including a paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte. The recipes are great because they enhance the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice flavors instead of masking them with artificial ingredients and yucky chemicals.

Basically – these are the least basic pumpkin recipes you can find. If baking isn’t your thing, check out this post with some of my fav pre-made paleo pumpkin spice goodies.

Check out my favorite pumpkin recipes below – and find even more on my Pinterest page.

#1 Gluten-free Pumpkin Donuts

 

#2 Paleo Pumpkin Latte

 

#3 Paleo Pumpkin Bars

Paleo Pumpkin Spice

 

#4 Flourless Paleo Pumpkin Bars                

Paleo pumpkin spice

 

#5 No Bake Choco Coco Pumpkin Bars

 

#6 Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

#7 Paleo Pumpkin Bars

 

#8 Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

Paleo Pumpkin Spice

 

#9 Paleo Pumpkin Pie Freezer Fudge

Paleo Pumpkin Spice

 

#10 Pumpkin Spice Date Bars

I would love to know what recipes you try! Leave a comment with your favorite recipe.

 

Lots of love,

-Stef

The Natural Perfume Alternative You’ve Been Searching For

The Natural Perfume Alternative You’ve Been Searching For

It isn’t often I advocate for perfumes or essential oils. I don’t wear either of these on a daily basis because they so commonly have a TON of artificial ingredients and additives that are known to disrupt our endocrine systems. AND it is so difficult to find paleo perfumes.

And to be honest, I am definitely a fan of not masking our naturally produced scents.

But, YOU GUYS.

I have finally found an organic essential oil blend that is free of additives and all of the nasty ingredients that are typically found in perfumes. AnnMarie Skin Care has developed a new line of pure essential oil perfume blends that can be sampled in a miniature set so you can be absolutely sure you find your fav scent.

Seriously though- these are the cutest miniature bottles and I have already thought of a ton of ways to re-purpose them.

These are unique because they are blends of pure, organic essential oils that create a new sensual aromatic experience. The best part is smelling AMAZING but also knowing you aren’t dousing yourself in all the artificial ingredients and unknown chemicals typically found in perfume. The blends aren’t stifling or suffocating either – they have the perfect amount of scent.

I never wear conventional perfume because it gives me migraines, but sometimes if I feel like indulging I’ll wear one of these natural scents– and from these I don’t suffer any pain.

AND because the are made of organic essential oils, they offer similar benefits that aromatherapy can offer including relaxation and grounding.

The blends can also be combined with a coconut oil (find my fave here) to make a great moisturizer. I have recently used this moisturizer method on my scalp if it is dry , and subtle waves of the scent will wash over me throughout the day.

You can also and throw a few drops  in your diffuser to give your space some serious atmosphere.

Flavors range from love, passion, and grounded to name a few –  giving you multiple options depending on your mood.I liked all of the scents. But, my fav is definitely the passion – an earthy blend containing notes of sandalwood. This blend is the perfect accent to a night of dancing and does well withstanding the sweat and movement. You can create your own combination of signature scents by blending different oils together too.

And AnnMarie is having a special on sample kits so you can try all of their scents for $10.00. Because scents are so hard to commit to without testing fully, I was willing to test them because they also offer a $10.00 coupon off of a future purchase and free shipping on the kit versus having to dish out a ton of money to sample the blends first.

Ready to try AnnMarie’s organic scents? Get your sample kit here.

5 Things I always do before holiday meals

5 Things I always do before holiday meals

As much as I always loved the holidays growing up, I also always dreaded them.

I knew that along with all my favorite things — like the hugs and the carols and the twinkle lights — there would also be my greatest demons: the apple pies, the peppermint fudge, and the oatmeal raisin cookies.

(Here, by the way, are my absolute  favorite paleo dessert cookbooks: Every Last Crumb: Paleo Bread and Beyond and The Paleo Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook.)

Holidays meant feasts. 

For my relatives this was a great thing. They loved nothing more than sitting and delighting in each other’s company and good, hearty food.

But for me it was hell – because I was in a sea of temptations. I would always start out good. But then over time my willpower would wear down. I would have one nibble. And then another. And another.

And soon enough perhaps a whole dessert tray would be gone. I would have eaten a few pounds of sweets.

And absolutely hated myself for it.

Nowadays, however, I am so happy and relieved to report that this is no longer a problem. 

Might you happen to need a little – or a lot – of help making that shift yourself?

To that end, Here are 5 helpful things I always do before the holidays:

1. Absolutely nothing different

That’s right. Nothing.

There plenty of diet and health gurus out there who will tell you that the key to “getting through the holidays” is to fast.

I tried this for several years. I kept thinking that if I starved myself before big meals, then I wouldn’t feel so guilty if I overate a little bit.

Here’s why this doesn’t work:

When you fast, two things happen to you. One is physical, and one is psychological.

Physically, your body sends you a lot of hunger signals. When you don’t eat — and especially as a woman — your body really, really wants you to eat.

Psychologically, you begin to develop feelings of deprivation. You are hungry but you can’t eat. You feel deprived. And then you may, like me and like millions of other women, start to obsess over all the things you can’t have. The cookies, the candies, the tarts, the fruit cakes….they start to haunt you.

These two things mean that, by the time the cookie trays come out, your brain and body both are super eager to eat. It will be nearly impossible to eat “normally.”

This is not your fault. It is a biological fact. 

So don’t let yourself fall into this trap. Don’t let the gurus trick you. I change absolutely nothing about my eating in the days leading up to holiday parties or feasts. This has radically improved my ability to have peace of mind and enjoy them.

2. Eat whatever macronutrient ratio I want

Many diet gurus will tell you that it’s imperative to eat low carb before big feasts. The point is to maximize insulin sensitivity.

For  one thing – managing insulin sensitivity is a matter of nourishing one’s gut  health over a long-term period.

(Get my favorite fermented treats delivered to you by amazon on this page.)

For  another, a short-term low-carb fix isn’t going to necessarily make any impactful changes.

And finally, even if there is any slight  different in insulin sensitivity for a meal, it really won’t make a difference in the long run. I find it much more physically and psychologically healthy to just always focus on eating well most of the time. It’s not worth the 20% change in insulin sensitivity for a meal or a few days (if it even happens). It is much better for me too eat a whole range of macronutrients all of the time, and focus on their quality rather than on their quantity. 

3. Forbid pinching and mirror nitpicking

We may all be a lot of things, but one thing none of us are is objective.

Your perception of your physique is highly influenced by your psychological context. If you’re feeling guilty, you’ll probably pinch your hips and think “wow, I’m definitely thicker than I was yesterday.” You’ll think this is real. 

But there is a very good chance you will be wrong. 

I positively forbid myself from doing anything of the sort. I attempt to do this in my every day life, of course. But I do get more serious about it over the holidays are special occasions.

You cannot be objective about your body. (The scale won’t be objective either.)

So just let it go. I promise your body will still be there when you get back. 😉

4. Go to the gym, or not

I exercise on a reasonably regular basis. Usually this entails dancing, but I do lift weights from time to time. All of these things are good and important and healthy. They support healthy insulin resistance, healthy brain function, and healthy bones, lungs, and hearts.

I work out during the holidays if I feel like it.

If I don’t, I don’t.

Exercise is a part of a long-term plan in life that can wax and wane based on your needs for flexibility.

Sure, you might be in a “calorie deficit” if you work out on Christmas morning… but who the hell wants to work out on Christmas morning?

It’s fine if you don’t. The world won’t end.

Nothing will happen to me, or to you, in the long run if we let ourselves be flexible over the holidays.

5. Remind myself that love and relationships are the most important things

Something that’s very interesting to me about body image and food issues is how selfish they are.

This is not to say that they aren’t very real and very important things that need to be dealt with.

But they are also very much within ourselves, within our own hearts.

Throughout my entire life, I try to remind myself that the quality of my life, my goodness in the world, and my relationships are the most important things.

My self-respect and love most certainly matters… so much… but it is much easier for me to love and embrace my body when I think about it as the vehicle in which I have the capacity to love, rather than the idol that I need to worship and prevent from being judged.

During the holidays, when I focus on loving, supporting, hugging, and laughing with the people around me, I don’t have issues around food. I don’t worry about how much eggnog I drink. Instead, I feel loving and warm.

 

So this is it! I hope it helps. 🙂 What do you do during the holidays to make it through feeling safe and warm?

If you’re looking for some extra emotional support over the holidays, check out two of my favorite body image and love books: Why Weight and When Food is Love, both by Geneen Roth.

If you’re looking for a self-loving way to maintain a healthy weight after the holidays, check out my guide designed to help you do just that: Weight Loss Unlocked.

This Week In Paleo: Well Fed Weeknights

This Week In Paleo: Well Fed Weeknights

Today I’m reviewing the GREAT Well Fed Weeknights, Melissa Joulwan’s newest cookbook.

The main thing I hate about eating paleo is the pure and total inconvenience of cooking my meals.

With so much going on in my life -being a student, being a dancer, blogging, working on a podcast, etc- trying to fit in time for healthy, home cooked food is really tough.

I know many of you struggle with that as well.

I know many of you have much busier lives than even I do.

You’ve got school. You’ve got kids. You’ve got extremely demanding jobs.

Etc., etc.

And that’s partially why I write so much about convenient meal replacements, protein bars, shakes, and snacks. (Did you see last week’s on all things PUMPKIN SPICE??)

Because, if I’m being truly honest, most of the time I’m not cooking an actual, balanced meal.

Most of the time, I’m opening a can of wild-caught salmon and plopping it on top of some greens.

I review a lot of cookbooks and I always test out the recipes.

They are good, delicious, excellent recipes, too.

But the reality is that many of those recipes just aren’t practical for me personally.

And that’s why I get so psyched when cookbooks come out that truly speak to my heart.

Other cookbooks I’ve reviewed will sit prettily on my counter.

I might pull them out on weekends or holidays or special occasions.

But mostly, they end up collecting dust while I scarf down an Epic bar.

Not this one.

Melissa Joulwan’s new book, Wellfed Weeknights, is a cookbook after my own heart.

It’s a workhorse cookbook that you’ll use again and again.

Why?

Because every SINGLE recipe takes under 45 minutes to prepare (many of them less).

And because she helps you come up with ways to be creative about food prep that mean more leftovers and less cooking, without sacrificing on enjoyment.

There’s about a hundred ways to make a hamburger or hot dog (I’m exaggerating, but you get the point!) so that you can cook less and still eat something that feels different every night.

Greek burgers, Californian burgers, Hawaiian burgers, breakfast burgers, there’s something for every mood.

There are ethnic dishes and classic American dishes.

And there are ways to add to your meal for fancier nights when you might want some fries with that.

What I love about this book is what I love about all of Melissa Joulwan’s work.

It’s SIMPLE.

It’s a no-nonsense, good eating, practical cookbook that will help you not only figure out what to cook tonight, but help make you more creative so that you can start coming up with your own recipes.

I’ve lived off of Melissa’s first book Well Fed for a long time and I couldn’t be more excited for this one.

I’ll stop gushing now and just tell you how you can find it!

Well Fed Weeknights is available for pre-order and comes out on November 1st.  Find it on Amazon here. 


What do you love about Melissa’s books? Are you excited for this one?  How do you fit paleo cooking into a busy schedule?

This Week in Paleo: Prebiotics vs. Probiotics

This Week in Paleo: Prebiotics vs. Probiotics

Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: what’s the difference and which do you need?

It’s a common question I’m asked by readers and the answer is a little complex.

Overall, you need both really.

Prebiotics and Probiotics are not the same thing.  Each of them work differently in the digestive tract and provide different benefits.

Prebiotics are nondigestible sources of fiber within foods, things like resistant starches, which provide food for the good bacteria in your gut, whereas probiotics are different strains of good bacteria that you eat or take which help colonize your digestive tract.

The best thing is to use them together as part of a healthy diet.

(Side note: occasionally, for those with IBS or leaky gut, prebiotics and some probiotics may be too much to handle in the gut at first and can cause gastrointestinal issues.  I recommend starting with a small amount and working your way up to avoid this!)

Both prebiotics and probiotics can be consumed as food sources, too!

Prebiotics

Prebiotics like unripe (green) bananas are easy to chop up and gobble down.

Other sources of prebiotics in food include jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic, leeks, and even honey (yay!).

Tigernuts are also a great source of prebiotics and make a wonderful snack or baking flour.  I use them often for my baking needs (here’s my article about baking with tigernut flour)

You can find tigernut flour for sale here and tigernuts here.

Prebiotics can also be consumed as a dietary supplement, which makes it easier to fit them into your life.  I like this prebiotic supplement .

Probiotics

Probiotics are arguably more important than prebiotics.  These strands of “good” bacteria help not only to colonize the gut but to fight the “bad” bacteria.

As probiotics go there are several food sources that are both delicious and functional such as home-made or properly fermented sauerkraut (I like this brand), or raw yogurts, kefir and kombucha tea (like this one).

I also really love raw fermented pickled veggies.  Oregon Brineworks has tons of them from beets (find it here) to carrot-ginger root (find it here).

One caveat I will always make, though, is that it is incredibly difficult to get enough probiotics from food alone.  It can be done, but it isn’t often not feasible for many.

Not to mention that those with damaged guts will need more to start than a diet filled with probiotics can attain.

I recommend taking a high quality probiotic supplement.  I really like this one, but there are tons of others as well.

And if you don’t have the time or energy to take separate supplements or foods, there’s even a combined pre-biotic/pro-biotic supplement.  You can find it here


Prebiotics and Probiotics are an AMAZING food team that will help you have a stronger gut.  With that comes a host of other benefits, from decreased risk of depression to better digestion to a strong immune system.  It’s one of the most important things you can accomplish for your health!

How do you get your pro and pre biotics?  Let me know in the comments below!