When one thinks of weight loss, coconut oil is most likely not the product that they have in mind that will allow them to achieve their weight goals. For one, coconut oil has acquired some level of bad reputation over the last few years due to its high saturated fat content. If current mainstream dietary science is to be believed, saturated fats are the biggest culprit for elevated cholesterol levels, scary lipid profiles, and to some extent, obesity. It is not surprising, therefore, that people shy away from coconut oil whenever they switch to a supposedly healthier diet in order to achieve their weight loss goals.
Coconut oil and weight loss
So why then do we have plenty of anecdotal and testimonial evidence suggesting that coconut oil does wonders for one’s waistline? Here are two examples that emphasize a common theme when it comes to helping people lose the extra weight:
“I would like to say that I have been on Virgin Coconut Oil for the past 2 months (4 tablespoons daily) and feel better than I have in a long time! My energy levels are up & my weight is down. I am never hungry anymore, & have incorporated a daily exercise routine & have lost 20 pounds.” – Paula in an online coconut diet forum
“Since beginning to use Virgin Coconut Oil, about 8 months ago, I have experienced a noticeable increase in my energy, rid myself of cravings for carbs, cleared up my complexion (which has always been a problem) gotten the silkiest, most glorious hair from using it internally AND lost 16 pounds. This oil does all that it promises, and more!”
– Sharon, an author
Surely, these anecdotes and the thousands of others that support the same idea have some credible basis as to the observed effects. In fact, if you look hard enough, there are more than enough testimonies and scientific research to support the viability of coconut oil and virgin coconut oil as an effective weight loss product.
To understand this in more detail, it would be very helpful to look at the science of weight loss from the perspective of “low-fat” or “high-fat” diets. Specifically, we seek to answer the question: does a low-fat diet correlate to weight loss and a high-fat diet correlating to weight gain? Are these absolute unbend-able truths that you cannot escape? Or is there something more to the story?
Let’s allow the data to speak for itself.
The Truth Behind Low-Fat Diets
Today, low-fat diets are all the rage in weight loss. They are tremendously popular because the idea requires little effort to “sell.” Consider; if you want to lose body fat, would you want to be eating “fatty” foods? Naturally, it’s much easier to convince people to switch to a low-fat diet in order to lose weight than to go against the grain and tell people to eat more fat in order to burn the excess weight off.
Sadly, this ploy to sell low-fat diets to the public has led to very little improvements. In fact, many countries in the world today are at an all-time high in obesity rates and the emphasis on low-fat diets has only served to worsen the situation. For every one anecdotal evidence that you can find about how coconut oil can help you lose weight, there are thousands more than decry low-fat diets because they simply do not work.
The crux behind why a low-fat diet is problematic boils down to four important implications.
- A low-fat diet considerably slows down metabolism. The body requires fat in order to function and getting the right types of fats is the key to weight loss, not the idea of avoiding fat altogether.
- Low fat diets negatively impact insulin resistance and lipid balance.
- Low fat diets are known to increase hunger pangs.
- Low fat diets are very hard to follow and restrict your access to many types of nutrients and vitamins that depend on the presence of fats in order to be metabolized by the body.
According to statistics, all of these implications lead to unsustainable diets that may lead to weight loss but are equally responsible for packing the pounds back on shortly after. In the end, the disruption to metabolic processes caused by a low-fat diet can bring more harm than good and may have repercussions that extend beyond just weight loss and your waistline measurements.
The Science Behind Coconut Oil as a Weight Loss Facilitator
While there is not a lot of scientific literature surrounding the experimental use of coconut oil to promote weight loss mainly due to the concerted effort of big companies to block such studies which do not lead to any revenue, there are still a few research results that can help establish the role that coconut oil plays in weight loss.
In the 1940s, farmers turned to coconut oil as an ingredient for cattle food because they wanted to fatten their cattle. However, they found out that cows eating food mixed coconut oil are leaner, hungrier, and far more active. This increase in metabolism is crucial proof that conventional wisdom may not necessarily be backed by sound science.
A follow-up study in the 1950s methodically documented the diet of cows relative to saturated fat content (coconut oil) versus diets that featured varying levels of unsaturated fats as is common in today’s “healthy oils.” The findings revealed that the obesity of the cows was closely correlated to the percentage of unsaturated fat in their diet, and more specifically that as the unsaturated fat content went up, the cows became fatter.
Recent research has established close correlations between the cholesterol levels of people and their intake of saturated fats from coconut oils. Demographic studies have found out that people located in areas where the general population eats more coconut oil have far lower blood cholesterol levels than those who are eating supposedly healthy oils.
All told, it is important to understand that popular opinion may not necessarily be backed by sound science. Consequently, active and on-going research in the value of coconut oil as a catalyst for weight loss is beginning to shed light on why people can benefit by adding coconut oil into their diets as opposed to running away from it.
The Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
So after reading about how low-fat diets may not be the answer to your problem and that there is sound science to back up the idea of coconut oil as a weight loss catalyst, let’s now look at the health benefits of coconut oil, assuming it is included into your daily diet.
There are many factors that influence metabolism but one that is often not considered is the type of food that you are eating. Every time you eat, your body consumes a portion of the calories you just ate and uses it to break down the food into what the body needs. The concept of high-GI and low-GI foods is relevant in this case. High GI foods require a smaller amount of energy to burn and are consequently burned faster. Low GI food is better because it is broken down more slowly and requires more energy to process so your net energy intake is lower and also more evenly distributed over time.
Consuming saturated fats work in pretty much the same way. Saturated fats are more stable and are harder to metabolize. The body consumes more energy to break it down and also takes some time to finish the work. This means that your net calorie intake is actually lower because you are using a bigger portion to burn down the food. Add in the fact that you are breaking down the food over a longer duration and it means that your body is better able to handle the food that you ate and there are no sudden spikes or dips in the fatty acid level in your blood.
This second point conveniently leads to the second benefit: a lower risk towards insulin resistance.
Lower risk towards insulin resistance
Insulin resistance is a condition when your body is no longer responsive to the presence of insulin. This happens when your body is used to the having insulin and requires higher doses to do the same work.
Insulin is needed as a means to control spikes and dips in the blood sugar level. Simply put, if there is too much sugar in your blood from the food that you ate, the pancreas secretes insulin which in turn orders the body to convert the sugar to fat. The problem is when your body experiences too many spikes and dips that it becomes so used to having insulin around.
The same metabolic process that promotes the slow breakdown of saturated fats like those in coconut oil also ensures that there are no sudden spikes and dips that require so much insulin. As such, your body is better suited to managing your blood sugar level without having to convert the excess to fat.
A more balanced lipid profile
The body needs a little bit of everything, saturated fats included. A more balanced lipid profile indicates a more balanced function which means your body is operating the way it was designed to do. Disrupt this balance by loading too much on unsaturated fats via low-fat diets and you are more likely to “jam” the system. Like any fine-tuned and “well-oiled” machine that suddenly goes out of whack, you can expect the unthinkable things to happen if the body isn’t operating as it should.
Proper metabolism of fat-dependent vitamins
Fat-dependent vitamins can help keep vitamin malnutrition in check. Vitamins A, D, E, and K all need fats to be metabolized. The absence of fats means that these vitamins are flushed out of the body and are never used. Vitamin deficiency can lead to all sorts of illnesses that can be fatal if left untreated.
Coconut oil to lose weight
It’s time we throw away our false perceptions of coconut oil as a fattening product that we should all avoid. When consumed properly, particularly if you pick the right products that are properly prepared, you can be assured that it will bring nothing but good health, improved metabolism, and the promise of a lower number on the scale.
So why don’t you give coconut oil a chance? Cook with it, add it into salads in tandem with other types of unsaturated oils, or drink virgin coconut oil; there are a number of great options for adding coconut oil into your diet. All that you need to do is to give the product a chance.
Let us know what you think about coconut oil as a healthy oil alternative?