Coconut oil has long been known for its outward benefits such as brightening the skin or preventing split ends. However, coconut oil is quickly replacing vegetable oil for cooking.
There are claims that coconut oil can prevent fat accumulation, stimulate metabolism, and curb hunger. But can coconut oil really work for weight loss?
In this article, we are going to learn the nutritional value of coconut oil, whether coconut oil can aid weight loss and how to use coconut oil for weight loss.
What is coconut oil?
Coconut oil also known as copra oil is simply edible oil extracted from the kernel of coconuts harvested from the coconut palm.
It is high in saturated fat and it is for this reason that the World Health Organization, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and the United States Food and Drug Administration recommend limiting its use.
What is the nutritional value of coconut oil?
1 tbsp. of coconut oil contains;
Zero (mg) cholesterol
13.5 g fat (11.2 g is saturated).
Coconut oil is high in medium-chain triglycerides which are easier to burn off and harder for the body to convert it into stored fat, unlike animal-based oils that have long-chain triglycerides (LCTs).
Can coconut oil really work for weight loss?
Research into coconut oil benefits for weight loss is inconclusive. There are arguments that it can support and arguments against. Therefore more research is needed to ascertain choosing coconut oil over other types can aid weight loss.
Weight loss claims are based on the following claims;
MCTs contained in coconut oil are not stored as fat, and that it is just absorbed in the bloodstream and used as energy.
Secondly, adding fat-rich foods like coconut oil to meals may increase stomach volume, inducing greater sensations of fullness than low-fat meals
How to use coconut oil for weight loss
Although it may sound unreasonable to eat oil to lose weight, we can incorporate coconut oil in our diet as part of a weight-loss plan.
Like we discussed above, coconut oil is saturated fat which is mostly lauric acid, a medium-chain saturated fatty acid. It so happens that this fat is metabolized easily and does not turn into stored fat which is not the case with saturated fats found in meats and dairy products.
The different ways of using coconut oil for weight loss include;
- The most important step is choosing the right type of coconut oil. Not all coconut oil is equal. Pick one with the most antioxidants. Virgin or extra virgin oil is the best in this case. Desist from brands with harsh chemicals and look for cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils for longer shelf life.
- Substitute coconut oil for butter in baking goods. This lowers the calories in the baked goods. Make sure you melt the oil before use. Simply place the container in hot water until all the oil has melted.
- Replace vegetable oil with coconut oil when making popcorn to make a healthy snack. It can also replace butter or olive oil in your favorite recipes like smoothies or even desserts.
- Add a spoonful of coconut oil to hot water or herbal tea in the morning. This is an easy way to consume coconut oil.
- Ingest coconut oil 20 Minutes before Mealtime to suppress your appetite by increasing a feeling of fullness.
- Add liquid coconut oil to salad recipes or homemade mayonnaise to help digestion and maximize your nutrient needs.
Learn other filling foods for weight loss here
How much coconut oil a day to lose weight?
Consuming 30 ml of coconut oil a day can meet the required daily fat intake, and it is an effective dose for you to get all the coconut oil health benefits.
30 ml is an equivalent of 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a day. 2 tablespoons coconut oil contains about 18 grams of MCTs that have been shown to enhance the metabolic rates.
Several studies have proved the above dose to be effective for different health benefits. For example, in one study where overweight where treated 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of coconut oil every day for 4 weeks, an average decline of 2.87 cm from their waist was registered.
In another study where obese women took 30 ml of coconut oil while on a calorie-restricted diet, the waist sizes reduced, HDL cholesterol increased and the opposite was observed in the control group.
Although 2 tablespoons is an effective dose, start with 1 tablespoon and gradually increase to 2 per day in a period of 1-2 weeks. This is because nausea and loose stool may occur at high intake.
what are other health benefits of coconut oil?
The health benefits of coconut oil include;
1. Boosts heart health
Coconut oil increases the level of good cholesterol (HDL) in the body as well as turning bad cholesterol into a less harmful form. Raising HDL boosts heart health
2. Coconut oil has an antimicrobial effect
Coconut oil contains lauric acid which makes 50% of the fatty acids. On digestion, lauric acid converts to monolaurin. Research shows that lauric acid and monolaurin can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
In an in vitro study, for example, coconut oil was found to fight against Candida albicans which is responsible for candida.
3. May reduce seizures
The MCTs in coconut oil can increase blood concentration in people on ketogenic diets. Research shows that this can reduce seizures in children with epilepsy.
4. Coconut oil raises good cholesterol
The natural saturated fats in coconut oil increase the level of good cholesterol (HDL) in the body as well as turning bad cholesterol into a less harmful form. Raising HDL boosts heart health which may not be the case with animal fats.
In one study in which 116 adults followed a diet program that included coconut oil, it was established that the diet raised HDL levels in people with coronary artery disease.
5. Protects skin, hair, and teeth
One of the cosmetic uses of coconut oil is improving hair and skin health. Research shows that coconut oil can moisturize dry skin as well as reducing the symptoms of eczema
In one study, it was showed that coconut oil can block 20% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays hence reducing hair damage.
Swishing coconut oil in the mouth as a mouthwash is said to kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. This can improve dental health and reduce bad breath.
6. Boosts brain function
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other mental functions. It impairs the ability to use glucose for energy by the brain.
Research shows that coconut oil can provide an alternative source of energy to the brain cells to reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Coconut oil can help diabetes
The animal study conducted in 2009 established that the MCTs in coconut oil may improve insulin sensitivity which in turn reduces the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
8. Reducing stress
Coconut oil has antioxidant properties which can help to reduce stress. In one animal study, coconut oil appeared to reduce stress resulting from exercise and chronic cold.
Learn how to deal with stress from our article “The link between stress and weight loss”
Are there any downsides to using coconut oil?
The main concern of coconut oil is the fact that it is saturated fat, which is one of the main dietary causes of high cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association.
Also, coconut oil has a high caloric density. 1 g of fat has 9 calories compared to 4 calories in protein or carbs. Therefore, consuming coconut oil means eating more than twice as many calories from one could get from equal amounts of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.
Others include nausea and soft stool
More research is needed to ascertain whether coconut oil can enhance weight loss and the feeling of fullness. Nevertheless, coconut oil has several other benefits like heart health, helping type 2 diabetes, boosting brain health, and protecting the skin, hair, and teeth.
The best weight loss strategy is having a balanced diet and regular body exercise.
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