The idea of using a fat like coconut oil for weight loss seems contradictory to most people — you can actually lose weight by adding fat to your diet? For decades now we have been told to cut back on fat in our diet if we want to lose weight and prevent heart disease. We've also been told that saturated fat is the most harmful one of all — and coconut oil is 90 percent saturated fat! So why would use you use something like coconut oil for weight loss?
Well, it turns out that everything you've heard about saturated fat might just be wrong!
Forget everything you've heard about saturated fat being unquestionably bad for you — it's not. The correlation between saturated fat is and heart disease, for example, is based on the conclusions of a 50-year-old study done by Dr. Ancel Keys, who, as it turns out, cherry-picked his data to fit the conclusion he was looking for.
And when you consider the facts that, regardless of how much low-fat diets have become popular in the last few decades, the population as a whole is steadily getting more and more obese. Obesity increases a person’s risk for a number of serious conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer.
The idea that eating saturated fat will make you gain weight is also contradicted by the example of professionals in the livestock industry who fatten up animals for slaughter — not by feeding them saturated fat, but unsaturated ones!
Fats from animal and vegetable sources are a necessary part of your diet; they actually have many valuable functions. Fats provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances.
Fats also slow down digestion of your meals so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A and for absorption of calcium and other minerals. and for a host of other essential bodily processes.
Coconut oil is predominantly a saturated fat, but quite a unique one. Coconut oil's nutritional value lies primarily in the medium-chain fatty acids that coconut oil is so rich in. Most significant among these is lauric acid, something not found in any other natural source but mother's milk. In addition, coconut oil contains antioxidant properties of vitamin E, vitamin K, and minerals.
The unique health benefits of coconut oil as a fat are directly related to its chemical structure, or more precisely, the length of its fatty acid chains. Coconut oil is comprised primarily of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). It is nature's richest source of these. By contrast, most common vegetable or seed oils are comprised of long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs).
Many animal and human research studies have demonstrated that replacing LCFAs in vegetable oils with MCFAs, like those in coconut oil, results in both decreased body weight and reduced fat deposition.
The reasons are simple:
MCFAs promote what is called "thermogenesis," an increase in the body's metabolism. Professionals working in the livestock business have known this for quite some time. If you feed animals polyunsaturated vegetable oils just before slaughter time, the animals put on weight and produce more fatty meat. If you feed them coconut oil, they will be very lean.
Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of MCFAs. Not only do MCFAs raise the body’s metabolism leading to weight loss, but they have special health-giving properties as well. The most predominant MCFA in coconut oil is lauric acid, a fatty acid that is also found in mother’s milk, and has similar benefits. Coconut oil is nature’s most abundant source of lauric acid, aside from others' milk.
All these factors provide a reasonable explanation of why coconut oil for weight loss could work.
Although coconut oil has properties that seem to help with weight loss, it's not a magic bullet. A successful weight-loss program includes many other components. However, substituting coconut oil for other fats in your diet will certainly improve your health in other ways. You'll get the benefits of those medium-chain fatty acids and will be reducing the amount of bad fats in your diet.
There are several ways you can add coconut oil for weight loss to your everyday life, and it really is easy! Coconut oil is stable even during long periods of storage, and needs no refrigeration. Because its melting point is 76° F, it can be used in both liquid or solid forms. It has a neutral flavor that makes it ideal for use in frying, cooking and baking.
Here are just a few suggestions:
You can even eat coconut oil right out of the jar. It gives you a quick burst of energy without creating a spike in your blood sugar levels.
One of the easiest ways to add the benefits of coconut oil to your daily routine is by using it as an ingredient in your smoothies. Coconut oil adds a rich, creamy texture to any smoothie recipe, although it may congeal if you add frozen ingredients.
If you haven't discovered the magic of smoothies yet, you might want to consider them. There's no easier way to increase your daily intake of antioxidants than a well-made smoothie.
You can discover how to make a smoothie the healthy way elsewhere on this website.
If you want to use smoothies as part of a weight-loss program, you'll also want to check out my tips on Low-Calorie Smoothie Recipes
There are several excellent organic coconut oils that I can recommend. Click on any of the images below for more information on any one of them:
If you want to take a look at a wider selection of coconut oil products, check out the Coconut Oil Store at iHerb.com.
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