This Evidence Based article was written by Melissa Gundersen
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. Find out why below!
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 health care 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 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.
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!
Controls Blood Sugar Levels
One reason coconut oil can naturally boost energy is because 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.
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.