One key to successful and lasting weight loss is to ensure steady blood sugar so that any extreme ups and downs are avoided and don’t cause you to fall off the wagon and make a beeline for the junk food aisle at the supermarket or the jumbo bag of chips in your pantry.
Coconut oil is seeing a serious surge in popularity, and not just because it makes everything taste uber-tropical. The oil, extracted from the flesh of a coconut, is rumored to boost dieters’ weight-loss efforts.
If you’re looking to lose weight then I have some advice for you — add coconut oil to your regular diet. I know what you’re probably thinking: “How can coconut oil help me drop a pant size when it’s full of saturated fat?” While eating fat to lose weight may sound a bit strange at first, researchers say coconut oil is actually a weight loss friendly fat. That’s because it contains a unique combination of fatty acids that effectively boost the metabolism, burn up calories, blast belly fat, and keep you feeling full for longer.
About The Fat In Coconut Oil
First, let’s address the fat in the coconut oil jar. In just one tablespoon of coconut oil, you’ll get 14 grams of fat, 12 grams of which are saturated fat. Years ago doctors and other healthcare professionals warned people to stay away from this type of fat, believing it could lead to obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, and other health issues. Today, we know not all sat fats are created equal. According to researchers, the saturated fats found in coconut oil are mostly beneficial lauric acid, which is considered an extremely healthy medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA).
Before I go over the health benefits of medium-chain fatty acids, you should know that most common seed and vegetable oils (including olive oil) are comprised of long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs). LCFAs are difficult for the body to digest, are predominantly stored as fat in the body, and can increase LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. These are all horrible factors if you’re looking to lose weight and improve your health.
On the flip side, MCFAs are easily digested. They are also immediately converted into energy, which means they aren’t stored as fat. Plus, MCFAs help to stimulate the metabolism, which leads to weight loss. Don’t just take my word for it, though. Over the years, there have been several studies conducted on the effect MCFAs have on weight loss and researchers say the results are promising. In one study, rats were overfed with either LCFAs or MCFAs. After six weeks, researchers found the rats that were fed the MCFAs gained 20% less weight and 23% less body fat than the rats that ate LCFAs. This is great news for dieters. Based on the results of this study, along with a number of others, researchers believe MCFAs have the potential to fight human obesity.
Coconut Oil Is The Best Fat For Weight Loss
Eating coconut oil to lose weight is more effective than you think. Here’s why it works:
- The high medium chain saturated fatty acids (MCTs) in coconut oil help boost your metabolism. (1)
- Coconut oil decreases hunger and curbs cravings. (2)
- Coconut oil helps balance your hormones.
How’s It (Supposed to) Work?
Coconut oil contains a relatively high concentration of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)—a fatty acid that’s processed more efficiently by the body than the long-chain dietary fats found in most foods (think: meat and dairy products), explains Cohen. Long-chain fatty acids take the scenic route as they metabolize (break down), setting up camp in fat tissue along the way. MCTs, however, take a shortcut that allows them to be metabolized super-fast and burned as energy instead.
Currently, however, there’s a lack of consistent evidence that the coconut oil weight loss link is legit.
1. Coconut Oil Boosts Metabolism and Burns Calories
Since coconut oil is digested differently than most other fats, it’s no wonder the body responds to it in a unique way. When you consume the thermogenic oil, medium-chain fatty acids are sent straight to the liver, where they are converted to energy. This means that coconut oil’s high-fat content isn’t left to circulate freely in the blood or get stored as extra body weight.
Numerous studies have found the MCFAs in coconut oil enhance energy expenditure, fat usage, and calorie burning. In one study conducted by the University of Geneva, researchers fed eight healthy young men between one to two tablespoons of MCFAs or LCFAs before meals. At the end of the study, researchers found the men who ate the MCFAs experienced an increase in energy expenditure by 5%, totaling a loss of about 120 calories per day.
In another study, 17 obese women were fed daily meals rich in either MCFAs or LCFAs. After 27-days, researchers found when the women replaced the fats they usually eat with MCFAs, they actually burned more calories.
2. You May Experience a Natural Energy Boost
Let’s keep talking about calories. You probably know that in order to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you’re consuming. One of the best ways to do that is to get physical. Through activities like yoga, kettlebell swings, Zumba, P90X, Crossfit, or a number of other popular workouts, you can burn a ton of calories and watch the pounds melt right off. It all sounds great, but when it actually comes down to getting your booty off the couch and working out a lot of people just don’t have the energy. Many people either skip working out altogether or they don’t push themselves hard enough during a workout session to reap the weight loss benefits. This is where coconut oil may help!
In one study, researchers found consuming MCFAs can actually help increase energy and stamina. Over a six-week period, the researchers fed mice a diet rich in either MCFAs or LCFAs. Then, they had the mice swim in a current pool until they became too exhausted to continue. In the end, the group of mice that were fed MCFAs showed significantly greater endurance and were able to swim for a longer period of time. Imagine how many more calories you can burn if you pushed yourself just a little harder during every workout!
3. Controls Blood Sugar Levels
One reason coconut oil can naturally boost energy is that it can control blood sugar levels. While this is extremely important for anyone who battles with diabetes, blood sugar levels also have a direct impact on your ability to lose weight and keep it off. For many people, simply getting ahold of their blood glucose peaks and valleys is enough to do the trick and help stabilize their weight.
4. Coconut Oil Makes You Feel Full
Are you someone who is always hungry? An hour or two after you eat breakfast do you find yourself reaching for a snack? I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but an extra snack here and there isn’t helping your weight loss efforts. Of course, I’m not suggesting you starve yourself until lunch. Rather, it’s time to re-evaluate your meals. Eating foods that are rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats have been known to help keep your tummy feeling full for longer.
If you enjoy eating oatmeal for breakfast then you are already getting a nice dose of fiber and protein. Next time, though, try stirring in a spoonful of coconut oil too. Not only will it boost the flavor, but it will also provide your body with MCFAs, which researchers say help curb mid-morning snacking. For example, in a two-week study, researchers looked at how eating MCFAs affected appetite. They fed six healthy men a diet high in MCFAs and found they immediately ate 256 fewer calories per day. So, as you can see, in the long run adding coconut oil to your meals can help you eat fewer calories throughout the course of a day.
If you don’t care for oatmeal, some other options are to add coconut oil to your morning cup of coffee or slather some on top of your eggs. You can even replace the butter on toast with coconut oil or add some to a smoothie. The possibilities are endless so get creative!
5. Coconut Oil Blasts Belly Fat
When you button your jeans does your stomach pour over, resembling a muffin top? Along with the uncomfortable feeling of a tire around your waist, belly fat is dangerous to your health. When your body holds onto fat in your midsection it builds up in between your organs, like your stomach and intestines. This type of fat is called visceral fat, which has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. While getting rid of belly fat can be challenging, researchers say coconut oil can help.
In one study, 40 women between the ages of 20-40 years old were given a daily soybean oil or coconut oil supplements. They also followed a low-calorie diet and walked 50 minutes a day. After 12 weeks both groups had lost weight. However, only the coconut oil group had experienced a decrease is belly fat. Women who ate the soybean oil actually had a mild increase in belly fat. This isn’t the only study that reached such findings.
6. Coconut Oil May Increase Thyroid Activity
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that’s located in your neck and releases hormones that control your metabolism. If you have a sluggish/underactive thyroid you may experience weight gain. Unfortunately, many of the oils that we cook with on a daily basis can negatively affect our thyroid health. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, after someone consumes an oil that contains LCFA, it oxidizes quickly and becomes rancid in the body. This process can damage cells and put stress on the thyroid. That isn’t the case with coconut oil, though. Since coconut oil is more stable and doesn’t put stress on the thyroid, this super oil has even been compared to powerful antioxidants.
7. Coconut Oil Improves Digestion
For decades, researchers have recognized the ease of digesting coconut oil. Like I mentioned above, this is because MCFA molecules are smaller than LCFAs and require less work to be broken down and digested. This means coconut oil puts less strain on the pancreas and entire digestive system. Additionally, coconut oil fights inflammation. For these two reasons, patients with Crohn’s disease, colitis, and other gastrointestinal issues have reported significant improvements in their digestive health after adding coconut to their diet.
While digestive issues are extremely uncomfortable, did you know that a sluggish digestive system has actually been linked to a tougher time losing weight? That’s mainly because your body won’t properly break down food and toxic waste will get stored in your intestines. Right now, the average American has pounds of stool trapped in their intestines and doesn’t even know. Additionally, when your digestive system isn’t working properly your intestines won’t be able to absorb all of the nutrients and minerals from the food you eat. This means nutrients that can stimulate weight loss may not be absorbed into the bloodstream. As you can see, improving your digestion is another way coconut oil can help you lose weight, feel lighter, and be healthier!
How Much Coconut Oil Should I Eat For Weight Loss?
While coconut oil offers the body many benefits, including weight and fat loss, it’s important to note you should consume it in moderation. Eating spoon after spoon of coconut oil in addition to other fats will likely leave you with undesirable results. Meaning, you may actually gain a few pounds. So, instead of just adding coconut oil to your existing diet, work to replace some of the fats you currently eat (like butter, olive oil, soybean oil, canola oil, etc) with coconut oil.
So how much of it should you consume in a day to lose weight? According to Dr. Bruce Fife, who is a nutritionist, naturopathic physician, and author of the book “The Coconut Oil Miracle,” you should eat anywhere between one-three tablespoons of coconut oil a day to reap the health benefits.
Should I Eat Coconut Oil When It’s Solid Or Liquid?
If you’ve never used coconut oil before then this question might confuse you. Here’s the deal – when coconut oil reaches 76 degrees Fahrenheit it melts to a liquid. So if you leave coconut oil on your countertop for a period of time, you may watch its form change. In the hot summer months, your tub of coconut oil will likely be soft and liquidy. In the cold winter months, however, it will be hard. The powerful nutrients in coconut oil remain in both forms. So whether it is liquid or solid, they are equally healthy.
How To Choose a Coconut Oil
While it doesn’t matter whether you consume coconut oil in its liquid or solid state, if you want to reap the many health benefits then it is important to choose a high-quality oil. When shopping for coconut oil look for the following words: unrefined, extra virgin, and/or pure. This means no chemicals have been added to the oil and it hasn’t been bleached. Additionally, the oil isn’t exposed to high heat levels during the extraction process, like its refined counterpart. This is key since heat can kill off some of the good nutrients.
Just like with any real food, coconut oil does expire. With that said, coconut oil does last way longer than most fresh oils do. Unrefined coconut oil has a shelf life of more than a year.