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Question

For a balanced sportsman doing crossfit (1x to 2x per week), should I drink coconut milk or diary skim milk?

Background

As a sportsman trying to have a defined body and the energy to exercise can be complicated sometimes.

I know that protein is important for muscle gain, and that to be defined, fat (specially saturated fats) should be avoided.

Recently I have started to see a huge increase over the number of crossfit celebreties that drink coconut milkshakes after workouts and an ever increasing number of sportsman (and women) recommend coconut milk instead of regular milk.

This is specially true among vegans or among those who avoid taking protein from animal sources. According to them, coconut milk is healthy and good for you.

Problem

I was surprised when I checked the nutrition label for coconut milk.

According to the sources from USDA:

One can immediately see a problem with this: coconut milk has 104% of the recommended amount of fat.

Now, fat is not bad nor evil per itself. There are two main kinds of fat (unsaturated and saturated), one is good for your heart and circulatory system overall (unsaturated fat, like in raw olive oil), the other is what gives you heart attacks (saturated fat).

The problem with coconut milk, is that is filled with saturated fat (the one that gives you heart attacks).

Now I have to wonder, how can something with so much saturated fat, be considered so healthy by the community?

Questions

So at this point I am pretty much confused:

  • Is one type of milk healthier?
  • Why is coconut milk regarded as healthy?
  • Why is coconut milk used by sportsmen and women?
  • What should I take?

Additional Note

Please consider that I am not lactose intolerant, and that for a normal person, there are also lactose-free diary milks as well.

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    Close as off-topic, however, nothing about coconut milk (or fat in general) is inherently bad or good. if you are trying to lose weight, then eat less of it (and everything else). No need to over-think it.
    – John
    Jul 4, 2016 at 7:39
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    @JJosaur I tend to agree with the OP - this question seems on-topic to me, and if you believe otherwise, it is for you to justify why e.g. through selecting a valid reason on a close-vote, but if you're going to engage on a debate in comments about it, then an explanation in your comment would be good form. There's no point in fostering a sense of mystery over it - that will just leave the OP and other readers of these comments confused as to your reasoning.
    – JBentley
    Jul 4, 2016 at 11:12
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    @JJosaur As for your assertion that it makes little difference what items/fats you eat and that quantity consumed is the only meaningful factor - (a) that contradicts virtually all known research into diet, and (b) it appears you've not read the question properly, as the OP said nothing about losing weight. His primary concerns appear to be his exercise regime, and his health.
    – JBentley
    Jul 4, 2016 at 11:15
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    @JJosaur The OP also specified that health was a primary consideration (he used the word "healthy" or "healthier" 4 times). Using your simplified model of diet, one could lose weight by eating nothing but butter (or any other food item) at just below daily calorie consumption. It certainly is not the mainstream scientific view that that would result in being healthy, or toned, even though it would cause you to lose weight. If you believe that the content of food, when eaten at a calorie deficit, does not affect health or muscle tone, please provide some citations.
    – JBentley
    Jul 4, 2016 at 12:19
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    @Flame_Phoenix - JJosaur is fairly knowledgable, and has provided (as you can see) quality answers on many subjects. Just because he (and several others) voted to close your question as off topic is no need to vent angrily at them. Your basic question is "Which should I drink", which morphs into "Which is healthier", neither of which are on topic. Which you should drink is a personal choice, and which is healthier is more a health question than anything
    – JohnP
    Jul 4, 2016 at 21:35

1 Answer 1

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To answer your question: Why is coconut milk used so much by sportsmen and women?

Nutritional content: Based on raw from the water and grated meat

As you rightly asserted, there is a high quantity of saturated fat this is due to the high level of coconut oil, The FDA, WHO, ICoN, DHHS, ADA, AHA, British NHS, and DoC recommend against consuming in significant amounts due to its high levels of saturated fat.

However, the effects of coconut oil aren't insignificant. Examine.com highlights that the main reasons that coconut oil is consumed:

The majority of coconut oil (65%) is made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCT). Studies suggest replacing calories with MCTs without exceeding daily caloric requirements can result in a small, but significant, increase in the rate of fat loss over time. This effect appears to be slightly more powerful in overweight people.

Coconut oil may also temporarily increase metabolic rate and the speed at which fats are broken down to release fatty acids, a process known as lipolysis. This effect occurs when coconut oil is first added to the diet and disappears after two weeks.

Adding coconut oil to a diet is unlikely to cause noticeable fat loss effects, but it can replace other dietary fatty acids in order to fine-tune a diet plan

To summarise, coconut milk has a high fat content due to coconut oil. Coconut oil has been shown to help people who are overweight improve their fat loss rate (provided diet is at calorie deficit). All of this points to coconut milk being most helpful to those on a keto diet. Keto diets are preferred by athletes on a cut because it enables them to retain muscle mass while losing weight.

For a balanced sportsman doing crossfit (1x to 2x per week), should I drink coconut milk or diary skim milk?

Depends entirely on your dietry requirements, if you are on a cut (probably? as you mentioned 'toning'). To get to a low body-fat percentage (and get 'toned') you need to eat less calories than you put out. Dietry fat as a food type does not have significant impact on body composition. I suggest you have a read though this examine.com question. The only way to definitively know which ones to use would be to work out your calorie and macro-nutritional breakdown and compare it to your diet design.

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