I’ve been on a mission to get healthier for awhile. Really since Smalls went into remission and life started to stabilize, which was over a year ago. And like most people, I wanted instant results. I wanted to wake up one morning and see the 80+ pounds of fat that my body has accumulated gone.
I didn’t want to stop eating dairy free ice cream and start doing Fit Coach Erin’s workouts (seriously, y’all. She’s a bad ass). I didn’t want to ditch the snacking all day long and drink more water.
Does anyone really? So, I’ve seen some good results (I’m down almost 30 pounds,
I’ll answer that. No, no they do not. But when nothing is working and fad diets just cause you to gain back everything you worked so hard to lose…something had to give.
So I started eating healthier, following my own advice (and Coach Erin’s) and actually scheduling workouts each day. It sucks, or at least it did.
I’ve found that the longer I make myself plod through healthy choices, the easier they are to make. And one thing that I’ve found myself reaching for over, and over, and over again is coconut oil. Which got me worried. I mean, I cook with it, add MCT oil to my smoothies, and I use straight coconut oil to remove my makeup.
Y’all. That is a lot of coconut oil. So I had to know…is coconut oil really good for you? And you know what my research found?
Yes, yes it is (mic drop).
But what exactly is it about coconut oil that makes it so healthy? And which type is best?
Let’s dive into some of the fascinating research and find out.
Coconut oil is a fat and contains the same 9 calories per gram as other fats.
The oil is extracted from the “meat” of the coconut, much like olive oil is extracted from the “meat” of olives (make sense?). Coconut oil is a white solid at room temperature and easily melts into a clear liquid when it gets above 76 degrees (like when you put it in your hand).
Not All Fats Are Created Equal
The idea of adding coconut oil to your diet is definitely not to add it to what you already eat. Instead, you should begin to substitute coconut oil for some of the less healthy fats you may already be eating (like canola oil, y’all).
Not all calories or fats are created equal.
Coconut oil contains a unique type of fat called “Medium Chain Triglycerides” or MCTs. In fact, a whopping 65% of the fat in coconut oil is actually MCTs.
The really unique thing about MCTs is how your body metabolizes them.
MCTs are easily absorbed into the bloodstream by your gut, and from there they go straight to the liver where they’re burned for fuel or converted into something called “ketones.”
This metabolic process, unique to MCTs, is what sets coconut oil apart from other fats.
MCTs and Fat Loss
Now here’s the really cool part.
The MCTs in coconut oil have been shown to have (wait for it) fat loss benefits.
- Fat is naturally high in calories, and its density can help to increase feelings of fullness, which can lead to a natural reduction in the amount of food you eat.
- Because of their unique metabolic route, MCTs can increase the number of calories you burn. A few studies show that coconut oil may increase the number of calories you burn by as much as 5%.
- Some studies show that eating coconut oil may help reduce your waist circumference (aka “belly fat”).
How Much Coconut Oil Should I Eat?
Many of the studies that showed increased fullness, increased metabolism, and reduced belly fat only cited their participants using approximately 2 tablespoons of coconut oil per day.
You probably don’t need any more than that.
Choose Quality Coconut Oil
There are so many coconut oil options available in grocery stores these days. My local grocery has a whole shelf full of coconut oil (seriously).
I recommend you stay away from “refined” coconut oil (the clear one), and instead opt for “virgin” coconut oil.
Virgin coconut oil is processed at lower temperatures and doesn’t need many of the chemical solvents used in the refining process. The lack of chemicals and low heat help to preserve the oil’s natural health-promoting antioxidants.
Always (and I mean ALWAYS) avoid “hydrogenated” coconut oil. It can be a health nightmare because it contains the infamous “trans fats.”
One thing you should also consider is that each oil has a smoke point. This is the temperature where the oil becomes volatile and breaks down (not good).
For virgin coconut oil, that temperature is 350F. That means you can safely use it on the stovetop on a low-medium setting, as well as in most baking recipes (it makes a great butter substitute!).
If you want to try out the coconut oil craze and possibly lose some weight as a result, start small. Substitute some of the fat you eat with coconut oil and increase your use slowly. Doing so may help you to lose weight and belly fat by naturally helping you to eat less, as well as slightly increasing your metabolism.