There seems to be so much controversy out there at the moment about Coconut Oil. First it was the best thing since sliced bread and then suddenly we shouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. So who is correct and why might coconut oil help with our weight loss efforts?
One thing I realised when I started working in the world of nutrition is that it is a minefield, and what I thought would be black and white is decidedly grey! No-one seems to be able to agree on anything. Whether we eat fats or avoid them, whether dairy is good for you or not, whether meat is a required part of our diets or is making us ill and so on and so on. And now the debate is raging over coconut oil.
In my opinion there are 2 ways to decide who is right about all these things – spend hours reading the various studies and making an informed decision on your own about what you believe to be true, or listen to people who you trust and their message resonates with you. Plus the most important thing – listen to your own body as it’s pretty good at telling you whether a particular food stuff works for it or not!
Now I always rant on about how misleading the low fat movement is. And this is now starting to come to and end with even the big national diets out there realising that excluding all fats from our diets and advising high quantities of carbs is the wrong way to go and is just making us fatter and more ill. Yippee! But we do need to be a bit careful as this doesn’t just mean we can go fat mad and start eating deep fried mars bars for breakfast! Fried foods and vegetable oils are still not great choices – they cause inflammation in our bodies which can lead to heart disease.
BUT good fats such as those found in avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, good quality meats and coconut oil (to name a few) should be included in part of a healthy diet and one in which weight loss is part of the goal. These mostly contain monosaturated fats which we want.
Now it is important to note that fat has 9 calories per gram compared to just 4 calories in protein or carbs so it much be eaten as part of your calorie intake for the day – not as well as! Remember if we truly want to lose weight then we must ensure that our calorie intake isn’t higher than our output (but by eating the right foods this is pretty easy without too much effort).
Studies have shown that if you replace sugary foods and refined carbs with good fats in your diet, calorie for calorie, you will lose weight….
Now back to coconut oil.
Coconut oil contains something called medium chain triglycerides. This makes up about 65% of it. These MCT’s are easily absorbed into the bloodstream where they are burned for fuel. This is different to how other fats work with our body.
So what are the benefits of MCT’s when it comes to losing weight?
- It helps you feel full which is very important when you are eating a low carb diet so that you avoid those unplanned hunger binges mid-afternoon!
- Not all food is created equal and coconut oil will help you burn around 5% more calories versus other fats because of how they are metabolised by the body.
- Recent studies show that it actually helps reduce belly fat around our middle.
- I even recently saw a study that showed coconut oil can reduce your bad cholesterol and increase the good kind.
Coconut oil is also great for cooking and I would recommend over olive oil as it has a higher smoke point which means it isn’t so damaged by heat so better for our bodies. Look for organic virgin oil if possible.
In summary then, I do believe that coconut oil should be included as part of a healthy weight loss diet but aim for a maximum of 2 tbsp a day and ensure this is a replacement for other fats not as well as. Lastly ensure that it is included in your calorie intake for the day as cooking fats are often missed. And remember, see how it works for you as everyone is different!