1

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Digestion problems with Saturated Fats

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 13, 2012 at 2:55 PM

Hello fellow PH'ers

Stats : 6'1 190lbs Athletic 10%BF Very Active

I've been following a Paleo diet for over a year now and have experimented with different macro-nutrient ratios. It seems that my body runs better on a medium fat intake (40-50% cal intake). I've noticed however that the type of fat I consume has a different effect on my digestion. I've read the literature about saturated fat and understand it's role in the paleo diet.

When I first started paleo, I was still in the mindset that saturated fat was bad and followed a diet similar to Cordain's Paleo Diet for Athletes. I would stick to lean proteins (chicken breast, sardines, lean steaks) and would obtain most of my fats from olive oil, nuts and seeds, fish oil, eggs and a little butter. (fat ratio still at 40-50% and 25% carb 25% protein)

In the last 6 months I've tried to reduce my PUFA intake and increase my saturated fat intake. I've kept the fat ratio the same and eliminated nuts and seeds, olive oil and replaced them with fatty cuts of meat from pasture raised animals, coconut oil and ghee.

I've always had a difficult time digesting saturated fat and feel nauseous after consuming large amounts. My digestive system seems to prefer a meal consisting of a chicken breast and avocado than ground beef and veggies. I feel more sluggish and tired when eating this way.

Without changing my calorie intake or macro nutrient ratios I've also put on weight.

Any thoughts or comments are appreciated. Has anyone had a similar experience?

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 13, 2012
at 04:16 PM

a little saturated fat from cheese here and there hasn't really caused me any problems though. It's when I start increasing it intentionally and removing MUFA that I feel like it bothers my stomach a little.

E1c41fc9d29cec2c3066e000c9562d92

(730)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:59 PM

"In cases where bile salts or pancreatic lipase deficiency or both occur, a large fraction of MCTs can be absorbed as triacylglycerols, whereas LCTs cannot be absorbed." (http://www.ajcn.org/content/36/5/950.short) I think for coconut oil, its both its easy digestibility and its metabolic effects. Though it occurs to me now that if you had no problem with PUFAs or MUFAs, which are basically all long chain, then the bile salts is unlikely your problem. Still may be worth experimenting with the coconut oil if you are curious.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:22 PM

@ e.istre - Do you have a source for PUFA/MUFA/SUFA and digestibility? My understanding was that bile emulsified all these equally well and the benefits of coconut were how easily it was metabolized, rather than how easily it was digested.

A96720eb77be29f27f198654fecd8f3c

(824)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:17 PM

Good answer. I am using minimal amounts of coconut oil because I don't enjoy the taste. My primary source of saturated fat was from beef and ghee. I'll experiment with the Coconut oil and see how I respond

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:16 PM

I follow a 40/30/30 macro split b/c I tend to add denser carbs in around workouts (starch and/or fruit).

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:16 PM

I followe a 40/30/30 macro split because I tend to add denser carbs (fruit and/or starch) in around workouts.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:11 PM

I follow 40/30/30 usually though.

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3 Answers

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3
E1c41fc9d29cec2c3066e000c9562d92

on April 13, 2012
at 03:12 PM

How do you react to coconut oil exclusively? Considering that one is predominately medium chain triglycerides, it should be the least likely to cause you any problems. Most people who have trouble digesting saturated fats are not producing adequate bile salts to help digestion along. The MCT's do not need bile salts to be digested. Usually one could adapt quite readily to producing the bile salts necessary, however your body seems to have opposed that.

First, experiment with some coconut oil and see how you respond. This could help determine if its an issue of bile salts.

If that still causes you problems, I'd say go back to eating the way you were before. My opinion right now is that PUFA's from whole natural foods won't kill you, and can probably be just as healthy as SFA. Maybe mix it up when you feel the craving for some fatty beef. We should eat what makes us feel good and healthy, not what we are told will make us feel good and healthy :). I think how we feel is the best indicator of our health, if we are actually paying attention to it.

E1c41fc9d29cec2c3066e000c9562d92

(730)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:59 PM

"In cases where bile salts or pancreatic lipase deficiency or both occur, a large fraction of MCTs can be absorbed as triacylglycerols, whereas LCTs cannot be absorbed." (http://www.ajcn.org/content/36/5/950.short) I think for coconut oil, its both its easy digestibility and its metabolic effects. Though it occurs to me now that if you had no problem with PUFAs or MUFAs, which are basically all long chain, then the bile salts is unlikely your problem. Still may be worth experimenting with the coconut oil if you are curious.

A96720eb77be29f27f198654fecd8f3c

(824)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:17 PM

Good answer. I am using minimal amounts of coconut oil because I don't enjoy the taste. My primary source of saturated fat was from beef and ghee. I'll experiment with the Coconut oil and see how I respond

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:22 PM

@ e.istre - Do you have a source for PUFA/MUFA/SUFA and digestibility? My understanding was that bile emulsified all these equally well and the benefits of coconut were how easily it was metabolized, rather than how easily it was digested.

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:19 PM

I'm not an expert, maybe somebody like Peter and Hyperlipid might be someone to e-mail about this for a more informed opinion?

That said, as I understand it, your body produces bile to allow the absorption of fat. For digestion the actual amount of fat is a bigger issue than the quality of fat. The one exception to this is coconut oil. It's actually fairly common for this to upset people's stomach if they dive in, whole hog, without slowly working up to more. An experiment might be to up the butter and lower the coconut and see how you do.

Where are you gaining weight? If you are just heavier it might simply be an increase in hormone production leading to great gains in the gym etc... If you are gaining weight around the middle it might be that your insulin sensitivity wasn't quite as good as you thought it was. Opinions vary, I know some people say it's untrue, but others say that saturated fat does lower insulin sensitivity and if you were already borderline it might be enough to mess you up.

My take away was not "Saturated fat is preferred" per se but rather "saturated fat isn't something to be scared of" at least in the context of non-oil fat sources (whole foods).

0
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on April 13, 2012
at 03:10 PM

I have experienced similar problems. I follow a diet very similar to Cordain's paleo diet for athletes and do better with lots of MUFA as opposed to saturated fatty acids. Feel way better with avocado, olive oil, mixed nuts, etc and leaner cuts of meat. I have no idea why this is though.

I follow a 40/30/30 macro split b/c I add in starch, fruit, and/or coconut water around workouts.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 13, 2012
at 04:16 PM

a little saturated fat from cheese here and there hasn't really caused me any problems though. It's when I start increasing it intentionally and removing MUFA that I feel like it bothers my stomach a little.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:11 PM

I follow 40/30/30 usually though.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:16 PM

I follow a 40/30/30 macro split b/c I tend to add denser carbs in around workouts (starch and/or fruit).

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:16 PM

I followe a 40/30/30 macro split because I tend to add denser carbs (fruit and/or starch) in around workouts.

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