Proponents say that coconut oil not only promotes weight loss but also helps to cure serious ailments like poor immune function, thyroid disease, heart disease, cancer and HIV. (1)
WebMD claims that most of those assertions are anecdotal, without clinical evidence to support the health claims. However, this site has links to hundreds of published studies that have been done on the various health benefits of coconuts. (2)
One study assessed the use of 30 grams of coconut oil for 4 weeks by obese men. The result was reduced waist circumference by 2.86 cm, or 1.1 inches (3).
In another study, 40 women were given either 30 grams (2 tablespoons) of either coconut oil or soybean oil for 28 days and were instructed to eat fewer calories and walk every day.(4)
Both groups lost weight (about 2 pounds).
Only the coconut oil group had decreased waist circumference (belly fat) while the soybean oil actually had a mild increase in belly fat.
The coconut oil group had increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels, while the soybean oil had reduced HDL and increased LDL.(5)
These findings are significant because, while coconut oil did not cause overall weight loss compared to soybean oil, it did lead to a significant reduction in belly fat. Abdominal or “belly” fat is the least healthy place for fat storage in your body. It tends to lodge around your organs and cause inflammation, diabetes, and heart disease. Therefore, any reduction in abdominal fat is likely to have very positive effects on your overall health.
Coconut oil consists almost entirely of medium chain triglycerides (MCT). MCTs are fatty acids that are shorter and more water-soluble than those in other oils, such as olive or canola. “So they’re more directly routed to the liver, where they’re readily burned for fuel,” explains Peter Jones, Ph.D., professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. This means that MCTs are less likely to be deposited in fat stores. (6)
Another important property of coconut oil is that it is “thermogenic”, which means that eating it tends to increase energy expenditure (fat burning) compared to the same amount of calories from other fats (4, 7).
For example, typically your body uses about 10% of the calories you consume to digest the food you’ve eaten. So, out of 500 calories your body uses about 50 of those calories to transform food into the energy that fuels your body. But if you eat a 500-calorie meal, replacing the fat from oils or butter with coconut oil, then your metabolism will speed up and burn more like 15 percent, or 75 calories. (6)
Coconut oil is very high in saturated fat, 12g per tablespoon, as compared to 7g per tablespoon in butter and has around 120 calories per tablespoon. It’s important that any use of coconut oil should replace other oils and butters—simply adding coconut oil to an already fat-heavy diet will probably not promote weight loss.
Genetix Program’s team of doctors, certified coaches/trainers and nutritionists can help you make healthier lifestyle choices through daily phone coaching to achieve lasting weight loss. You can do it and we can help!