When most people think of eating cooking oils in regards to weight, they think of weight GAIN, and NOT weight loss. While that’s true for the majority of vegetable oils in our diet, coconut oil has been generally linked to weight LOSS which is obviously great news for those trying to lose a few pounds.
The number of benefits reported by individuals using coconut oil are HUGE, ranging from enhancing immunity, boosting thyroid function, improving blood sugar control AND weight loss.
How does it work?
To grossly oversimplify the mechanisms behind it, coconut oil is one of the richest sources of medium-chain fatty acids. Most plant oils are made up of longer chain fatty acids which when digested are typically stored in our adipose tissue, or more commonly known as body fat. Medium chained fatty acid, on the other hand, are transported directly to the liver where they are metabolized more efficiently and effectively by our bodies and do not get deposited in our fat.
Let’s briefly talk about body fat. As we age, we tend to gain body fat around our waists, ESPECIALLY woman. This type of body fat, both external (the spare tire we can see) and internal (called visceral) is extremely detrimental to our health. Particularly visceral body fat, not only because it has been linked to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, but has been shown to cause both metabolic AND hormonal disturbances. Body fat has a mind of its own and releases its own various hormones causing wide spread toxicity AND indirect weight gain. Highly processed cooking oils have been highly implicated in this process. Coconut oil, on the other hand, has actually been found to REDUCE abdominal obesity!
So how do you use it?
There are many ways you can incorporate coconut oil into your diet depending on your taste preferences. Cold pressed virgin coconut oil, TASTES like coconut. Something to keep in mind when cooking with it. Whereas expeller pressed coconut oil does NOT have a coconut flavor. Both are extremely beneficial.
Where do I find it?
Coconut oil is becoming more and more readily available and I’ve seen it at most grocery stores. Especially the cold pressed version. Expeller pressed coconut oil seems to not be as common but I have seen it at Whole Foods, Fruitful Yield and Home Goods. Tropical Traditions, found on line, is my personal favorite. High quality coconut oil can be slightly pricey, especially when compared to other vegetable oils, so buying larger quantities is definitely a more economical route.
How much do I take?
If you cook the majority of your food at home, switching out your current vegetable oil for coconut oil should give you an adequate daily amount. For those who don’t cook, or don’t cook as often, 4 to 2 tablespoons a day, seems to be the norm. Again, bio individuality is key here and if you’re extremely overweight ONLY adding large amount of coconut oil into your diet and not taking anything out of your diet (i.e. adding coconut oil to your coffee but continuing to eat conventional cooking oils) may possibly lead to weight gain. Also, be mindful of your tolerance in regards to the amount of coconut oil you are eating daily.
A side note regarding olive-oil
Remaining true to my Greek heritage, I feel the need to throw out a short personal disclaimer regarding my use of olive oil. The many benefits of high quality extra virgin olive oil are so extensive that it deserves a blog post of its own. With that said, my extra virgin high quality olive oil, straight from my uncle’s olive trees in Greece, continues to be my number one go to oil when I need oil that does NOT need to be exposed to heat. So when it comes to my salads, raw, and steamed vegetables, olive oil is my one and only choice.
Coconut oil is NOT a quick fix for weight loss. Keep in mind that even if you switch out your canola oil for coconut oil in your home backed muffins, for example, if you eat SEVERAL muffins in one sitting, instead of one, you will NOT lose weight and most likely gain it. If you are an overall health conscious individual struggling with a few pounds, slightly tweaking your diet with coconut oil may help push you past your plateau. If you’re trying to lose a significant amount of weight, adding coconut oil to your diet is one of the many healthy dietary changes and add-ons that you most likely need for healthy, SUSTAINABLE weight loss.