Coconut oil is the duct tape of the natural health world.
We use it to condition our hair, help speed the healing of wounds, wash and moisturize our faces, and cook our food (it is first and foremost a food product after all).
Coconut oil can even aid weight loss.
Now I don’t commonly focus on weight loss here on Body Unburdened or in my own life. This is because I believe a healthy body (not a “thin” body) is the most important focus. And when a body is healthy, body weight tends to normalize — simply switching to a nutrient-dense real food diet from the Standard American Diet will often result in weight loss as the body is properly nourished and moves towards homeostasis (i.e. its happy place). And of course, a “healthy body” and “homeostasis” look different on different people, and guess what? It’s doesn’t always look “thin” and that’s totally fine! We’re all built differently and society’s ridiculous beauty standards have no place in the health and nutrition fields (or anywhere for that matter since, like I said, they’re ridiculous!).
That being said, excess adipose tissue (i.e. fat) poses a number of health issues. And while a nutrient-dense real food diet will help body weight to normalize over time, coconut oil can aid the weight loss process.
The healthy fats found in coconut oil are responsible for its weight loss promoting properties.
Coconut oil is high in medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which are minimally stored as fat and instead used as a quick source of energy.
MCFAs are unique in that they are metabolized differently than other fats. They’re incredibly easy to digest — they do not require enzymes or bile acids for digestion but are instead passed directly to the liver where they are quickly converted into energy (in this way, they’re metabolized like carbohydrates). Because of this, the body does not store MCFAs in fat deposits nearly as much as other fats.
The MCFAs in coconut oil boost the metabolism and increase the amount of calories your body burns.
Because it is so quickly converted to energy, coconut oil is “thermogenic” — it increases the body’s energy expenditure (i.e. calories burned).
One study found that individuals who consumed 15-30 grams (1 to 2 tablespoons) of MCFAs a day experienced a 5% increased energy expenditure, or about 120 extra calories burned per day.
Coconut oil also helps stabilize blood sugar levels and keeps cravings at bay.
Like other healthy fats, coconut oil helps keep you feeling fuller longer, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable. Stable blood sugar levels are so important for overall health but especially weight loss. Not to mention that blood sugar disregulation is responsible for “hanger” as well as late afternoon sugar cravings!
And because MCFAs do not place a significant burden on the pancreas (since they require no digestive enzymes), they help the pancreas to more efficiently produce and use insulin.
How can you include more coconut oil in your diet?
The most obvious way to get more coconut oil in your diet is by making it your primary cooking and baking fat. While unrefined cold-pressed coconut oil is best, if you do not like the flavor, refined coconut oil is virtually tasteless and is just as rich in medium-chain saturated fats. And because coconut oil is comprised of primarily saturated fat, it is great for cooking and baking at all temperatures.
You can also just eat coconut oil by the spoonful! I do this (actually, I have a large jar at my desk at work just for snacking 🙂 ) and really enjoy the flavor. 2-3 tablespoons a day is recommended.
Of course, coconut oil is not some “magic” remedy.
It’s important to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, get adequate sleep, and reduce your stress levels for optimal health and balanced weight. (So nope, you can’t eat the Standard American Diet and throw some coconut oil in there and transform your health!)