Coconut Oil Boosts Weight Loss and Improves Metabolic Function
Coconut oil is fast becoming a widely recognised superfood as it’s health benefits are more thoroughly researched and publicised.
Previously receiving negative attention for it’s high saturated fat content, evidence shows that Coconut oil stands alone from most other dietary sources of fat.
The fats in coconut oil are primarily classified as medium-chain-fatty-acids or MCFAs.
These fats are considered to be healthy fats as they do not contribute to elevated cholesterol levels, weight gain or cardiovascular disease- in fact they have a positive effect on these health factors!
This is because MCFAs are easily absorbed and converted into energy in the body, unlike long-chain-fatty-acids (LCFAs) found in polyunsaturated fat sources such as nuts, seeds, fish, algae and leafy greens.
Although essential for health, LCFAs are more difficult for the body to break down and use for energy, so are thereby more likely to be stored as fat.
Eat Fat to Lose Fat
Numerous animal and human studies have demonstrated that MCFAs, or Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) which are larger fat molecules that break down into MCFAs, are responsible for the metabolic benefits of coconut oil.
These fats have been shown to encourage weight loss through various mechanisms including:
The primary way in which MCFAs influence weight loss and reduce fat deposition is by stimulating thermogenesis.
Research indicates that MCFAs are up to three times more effective than LCFAs at increasing fat oxidation and thereby energy expenditure following food consumption.
Interestingly, this thermogenic effect has been shown to last up to 24 hours in some trials!
Coconut oil slows the digestion of food due to its fat content which helps to increase satiety after a meal.
This also prevents blood sugar fluctuations following meals as the rate of carbohydrate breakdown into glucose is reduced.
Many people notice that after adding coconut oil to their diet, they are less prone to snacking and sugar cravings, particularly when following a low-carbohydrate diet.
Coconut oil has the added benefit of containing specific MCFAs that help to destroy candida, a type of yeast that exists naturally in the body which, when overgrown, triggers symptoms of weight gain, carbohydrate cravings and fatigue.
Eliminating candida is an important part of achieving permanent weight loss.
Improving Metabolic Function
Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of metabolic disorders including high blood pressure, insulin resistance, abdominal obesity and dyslipidemia, which increase risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality.
Coconut oil shows promise for these conditions as MCFAs increase insulin sensitivity in Type 2 diabetes patients, have been found to reduce body weight and waist circumference over time, and regulate adiponectin production in rat models.
Adiponectin is a protein secreted by adipose (fat) tissue, which has antiatherogenic and antidiabetic properties.
In recent years, supplements containing MCTs have gained popularity with athletes.
Research shows that MCTs can increase physical endurance by suppressing blood lactate concentrations and perception of exertion during moderate-intensity exercise.
They also boost fat burning to enhance cellular energy production during exercise.
MCT supplements have long been used for a quick source of energy to people who are unable to properly absorb and metabolise nutrients, as they are rapidly absorbed directly to the liver and used as an energy source without needing conversion or bile salts for digestion.
How To Use Coconut Oil
Firstly, stock up on good-quality organic and unrefined extra virgin coconut oil. This is the best choice as it is the least processed form of coconut oil and preserves the natural health-promoting qualities of the coconut.
Start with small doses. If you have never used coconut oil before, start with eating 1 teaspoon daily and increase your intake to 1-2 tablespoons. This will help your body adjust to the beneficial effects of coconut oil over time.
Coconut oil is great to cook with as it does not easily oxidise when heated like most other vegetable oils. You can also add it to smoothies, baked goods and healthy deserts.
Please note: Increasing your dietary intake of fats from coconut oil will have the most beneficial metabolic effects if you reduce your refined carbohydrate intake, and avoid processed fats (eg. deep fried fats, margarines, processed foods and heated vegetable oils) at all times.
Raw Coconut Chocolates
Ingredients: (Makes approx. 6-8 chocolates)
1/4 cup raw organic cacao powder
1/2 cup coconut oil
2-3 tsp raw honey/agave nectar or a few drops of stevia
Optional flavourings: a few drops of peppermint oil or vanilla essence, a sprinkle of chilli powder, slivered almonds, shredded coconut or goji berries.
To make more of a ‘milk chocolate’ add a few tbsps of coconut milk to the mix!
1. If coconut oil is hard/solid place the oil in a bowl on top of a saucepan or inside a larger bowl filled with hot water in it so that the oil will liquify.
2. Once the oil has melted, mix the other ingredients into the coconut oil and use a whisk to combine.
3. Place chocolate mixture in chocolate moulds or ice-cube trays to be set in the freezer for a few hours or overnight.
4. After they have set, keep chocolates in a fridge until you want to eat them, as they can melt fairly quickly out of the fridge.
Enjoy raw chocolate to curb your sugar cravings or give you an energy boost throughout the day but limit your intake to 1 daily!
MCFAs may play a role in preventing age-related memory and cognitive decline.
Research shows that ketone bodies (metabolic byproducts of MCFAs) provide an alternate energy source for brain cells that are unable to properly metabolise glucose.
Therefore MCFAs may offer a novel treatment approach for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
To find out more about the harmful effects of defective brain glucose metabolism on memory and cognition, click here.
Nagao, K. et al. 2010, Medium-chain fatty acids :Functional lipids for the prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome, Pharmacological Research, Vol. 61, pgs 208-212
St-Onge, M.P. et al. 2002, Physiological Effects of Medium-Chain Triglycerides: Potential Agents in the Prevention of Obesity, The Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 132 (3), pgs 329-332