Can Coconut Oil Help with Weight Loss?
Almost everyone who is dieting wants to find a quick way to maximize weight loss. We all know there are no magic bullets to weight loss, but there are some things that might help us increase our weight loss were assist with maintenance. Could coconut oil be one of those substances that can assist with weight loss?
Coconut oil is a liquid fat that is extracted from coconuts or Cocos nucifera fruit. Oil has many uses in our society. It is a food additive it is often added as a moisturizer found in skin or hair products such as lotions, soaps, and shampoos. Although it is added to food, there is no research to support adding it to foods to improve our skin.
Coconut oil has been vilified in the past because it is mostly saturated fat – 12 of 14 grams. In the past, research pointed toward avoiding saturated fats to avoid heart disease. It is true that saturated fats are tied to increased heart disease and increasing bad cholesterol, but recent research has pointed toward the bigger culprit of partially hydrogenated fats or trans fats. The proof is quite the opposite and research backs it up because the culture in the pacific that has a high coconut intake has less cardiovascular disease,,.
Even though the fats from coconuts are high in saturated fats, nearly two-thirds of the fatty acids are medium-chain triglycerides (fats) (MCT). MCT are triglycerides or fatty acids with a carbon chain containing 6 – 12 carbon atoms. Multiple 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 and less so in normal-weight individuals.
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. Coconut oil also creates more ketone bodies than longer chain fatty acids when it is broken down. One study has provided evidence that this mechanism is what causes coconut oil to provide obese people with a muscle-preserving effect during caloric restriction. This effect has not been replicated in lean people.
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.
Research on Weight Loss and Coconut Oil:
- Coconut Oil and MCT May Increase Fat Loss. One study looked at both abdominal obesity and cholesterol levels and found the both were reduced over a twelve-week period in the group that received coconut oil supplementation. Another study of rats (which should be similar in humans) found that overfeeding with MCTs reduced fat deposition by approximately 20% during the study. One last study on body mass showed at MCTs not only reduce body fat but also reduce lean body mass loss. The loss of fat tissue and reduce lean body mass loss are both positives for weight loss and maintenance.
- MCTs and Coconut Oil May Increase the Percentage of Calories Burned from Fat. One study that looked at this compared MCTs to long-chain fatty acid (LCT) diets and found that not only did MCT cause weight loss that was mostly body fat but a higher portion of the energy burned was from fat energy utilization.
- Coconut Oil May Decreases Appetite. We’ve already mentioned that medium-chain triglycerides go straight to the liver after digestion. Not only does MCTs give the body an extended energy boost, the burning of MCTs forms ketone bodies which have the added benefit of reducing hunger and cravings. This is very similar to the mechanism that depresses hunger in Adkin’s Diet. One study looked at MCT and food intake and found that the addition of MCTs reduced food intake. Another similar study showed the intake gap on MCTs to be about 250 Kcal (Calories)/day which would come out to about to a loss of a pound every 2 weeks. Not bad for just manipulating your types of fats eaten.
- Coconut Oil and MCTs are High in MCTs And May Boost Metabolism. One study looked at replacing fat within the diet of research subjects with MCT and found that replacing fat in the diet increased the energy expenditures over those that ate a traditional diet low in MCT. What is means is that if you replace some of your fat with MCT, you will burn more calories than if you do not. The mechanism is unclear. Another study also looked at overfeeding with MCTs and found that it enhanced thermogenesis or increased metabolism.
- Coconut Oil and MCTs Lower Your Triglycerides and LDL Levels. Contrary to prior teachings and research, we know know that MCTs and coconut oil actually lower bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Recommendations on Coconut Oil:
- Add the Coconut oil or Fresh Calories to your diet but reduce the rest of your calories accordingly. Coconut is dense in calories. The key point the take-home from this article is the fatty acids from coconut oil or fresh coconut should replace calories already in your diet and no added calories. This is not a magic bean that can grow out of your calorie windfall from a Thanksgiving feast. It’s important to keep in mind that coconut oil is fat. All fats have 9 calories per gram. Coconut oil is no exception and if you eat to excess, you will gain weight. In other words, if you require 2000 calories to maintain your weight and you eat 2000 calories and then add coconut oil on top of that, then it’s likely to make you gain weight.
- Fresh or dried Coconut is better than a supplement. Coconut is high in calories but is also high in fiber. It will keep you full longer.
- Measure your serving. Eating fresh coconut can quickly add up.
- Avoided added sugar. Coconut has enough calories and flavor. It does not need the added sugar.
The bottom line: Coconut oil is not perfect, but it can be a part of a healthy diet. It might even help you lose weight.
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