It’s been one of the most ‘sticky’ pieces of health info to date.
In fact, I’d say it’s a bit like a bad penny, it just won’t disappear!
Perhaps you still believe the myth…
… it began in 1953, following Ancel Keys seriously flawed study, and all these years later, it’s still raising its ugly head!
That is, the lie that eating fat makes us fat.
The fact is this, research confirms we don’t need to avoid saturated fats after all.
And, fats like coconut oil are some of the healthiest fats you can use, especially for cooking.
Yet because it is high in saturated fat, most avoid it like the plague.
But, I have some exciting news for you today on that score…
“Research actually indicates there is a connection between eating coconut oil and losing weight.” - Click to Tweet
Yes, you read that right! Let me explain…
While traditional societies have used coconut oil as a healing agent for thousands of years, we are only beginning to catch up with this in recent years.
I’ve discussed the topic is coconut oil healthy more generally in the past, but I’m particularly interested in how we can use it as a powerful weapon in the battle against obesity.
What Is Coconut Oil?
The majority of fats and oils in our diet are made up of long-chain fatty acids.
Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, yet it differs from butter (also high in saturated fat) in that it contains medium-chain fatty acids.
There are few dietary sources of medium-chain fats, which makes coconut oil pretty unique.
These medium-chain fats are absorbed directly by the liver, meaning they provide instant energy, rather than being stored up.
1. Coconut Oil and Body Fat
The size of your waist is not merely a matter of aesthetics, but also a powerful indicator of a build-up of visceral fat.
This is a dangerous type of fat that is strongly linked with heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
If you want to work out if your waist size is in a healthy range, measure around the smallest area of your stomach — below the rib cage and above the belly button — then compare your measurements to this:
- Men: between 37 and 40 inches is overweight, >40 inches is obese
- Women: 31.5-34.6 inches is overweight, >34.6 inches is obese
And, far from being something you need to avoid, coconut oil has demonstrated big promises for reducing fat in this area of the body.
In one study, women were given 30mL (about 2 tbsp) of soy bean oil or coconut oil. Both groups walked regularly and ate balanced diets.
However, those women who consumed the coconut oil saw a reduction in their waist size, compared to those supplementing with soybean oil.
In the coconut oil group researchers noted:
- Increased levels of HDL (good cholesterol)
- Decreased LDL/HDL ratio
- Reduced waist circumference/abdominal obesity
In the soybean oil group they noted:
- Increased total cholesterol
- Increased LDL (bad cholesterol)
- Increased LDL/HDL ratio
- Decreased HDL (good cholesterol)
- No reduction in waist circumference/abdominal obesity
These benefits were likely to be a result of coconut oil’s medium-chain fatty acid content, rather than the long-chain fatty acids found in vegetable oils like soybean oil.
The authors concluded,
It appears that dietetic supplementation with coconut oil does not cause dyslipidemia* and seems to promote a reduction in abdominal obesity.
*abnormal amount of lipids (e.g. cholesterol and/or fat) in the blood.
2. Coconut Oil and Metabolism
Another study found that obese men who consumed coconut oil, lost weight and burned fat more quickly, even when their diets were otherwise the same as the control group.
The researchers found that coconut oil increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and this lead to beneficial changes in body composition.
Another study concluded,
This study suggests that relatively low-to-moderate intake of MCT* (15-30 g per day) as part of habitual diet may play a role in the control of human body composition by enhancing daily EE**.
*medium-chain fatty acids/triglycerides.
3. Coconut Oil and Cravings
How to deal with food cravings is, understandably, a question I get asked all the time.
So, when I came across the research connecting coconut oil and cravings, you could say I was a little bit excited!
In one study, those who consumed the most medium-chain triglycerides found themselves eating fewer calories over the course of the day.
In another study, those who ate the most medium-chain triglycerides at breakfast consumed significantly fewer calories at lunchtime.
These studies indicate, the fatty acids in coconut oil can significantly reduce your appetite, which may have a positive affect on body weight long-term.
How to Use Coconut Oil
Eat is straight
If you’re trying to lose weight, I suggest eating coconut oil straight from the jar when you feel like snacking on something unhealthy.
Unlike other oils it tastes good, so you don’t necessarily need to hide it in your food.
Seriously, start with 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil – straight from the jar, to kill food cravings immediately and fill you up.
Don’t call me crazy!! There are others who do this, too :)
Or try these coconut berry delights, which sound like an amazing healthy snack.
Cook with it
You can also use coconut oil as your primary cooking oil, in place of the vegetable oils you normally cook with.
It is heat stable, which means it can resist heat-induced damage.
This is a much healthier substitute for cooking whenever you fry, stir-fry or sauté meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, or eggs.
Other oils such as extra-virgin olive oil, while a very healthy choice, are certainly best kept for non-heat uses because they can quickly become unstable when heated.
Add it to drinks
Another option is to add it to smoothies or freshly made vegetable juice.
Bake with it
Or, you can bake with it. Try my homemade protein bar recipe as a starting point.
How much coconut oil should you take?
Aim for one to two tablespoons of coconut oil each day, but do make sure you go for a healthy version of this oil.
As with most things, there are cheaper alternatives. And, while this may be a tempting option, they are not good for your health.
You want to make sure the oil you choose is pure virgin coconut oil, and that it is unrefined, otherwise it will be no better for you than most of the oils on your supermarket shelf.
Have you tried coconut oil for weight loss? What results did you get?
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