Coconut Oil the Natural Cure-all
Coconut oil is touted as a cure-all for everything these days from skin and hair care to a dietary supplement that helps with reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s, treats candida, and is used as a natural way to balance hormones. Due to certain properties, it is also used as an antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal.
Some people, however, still demonize it as a saturated fat thinking that it will contribute to cardiovascular disease and obesity. However, several studies have proven Coconut oil not only reduces the risk of heart disease but also helps to decrease abdominal obesity. These studies have shown a direct connection between consuming coconut oil and belly fat.
How is this possible as a saturated fat?
Coconut oil is a very specific fat, classed as a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA). MCFA’s are not stored but broken down immediately in the body. They move through the blood to the liver which then converts it into energy. The fast conversion can prevent weight gain if you aren’t consuming more calories that your body requires.
Studies have also shown that coconut oil speeds up metabolism which increases energy output thus sparking the interest for the possibility that it could be used to aid in weight loss.
Research Studies Results of Coconut Oil and Belly Fat
One of the studies (1) researched the effect of coconut oil on the blood lipids and body fat of women that presented with abdominal obesity. The study involved a double-blind, randomised trial with 40 women aged 20-40 years. The groups were given either soybean oil or coconut oil over a period of 12 weeks then placed on a low-calorie diet and asked to walk 50 minutes a day. When tested at the end of the trial the group who had been taking the soybean oil showed an increase (P < 0.05) in total cholesterol, LDL and LDL: HDL ratio, while HDL diminished (P = 0.03). The group taking the coconut oil on the other hand showed higher level of HDL (48.7 +/- 2.4 vs. 45.00 +/- 5.6; P = 0.01) and a lower LDL:HDL ratio (2.41 +/- 0.8 vs. 3.1 +/- 0.8; P = 0.04). BMI was reduced in both groups, however, in the coconut oil group, there was also a reduction in waist circumference (P = 0.005). In this study, it showed coconut oil did not cause an elevation in cholesterol and seemed to prove it does reduce fat around the mid-section.
Another clinical trial (2) wanted to establish whether consuming Coconut oil improved weight and fat loss compared to olive oil when ingested as part of a weight-loss program. Men and women, 19-50 years old, consumed either coconut oil or olive oil as part of a 16-week program. The Coconut oil group ended up with a lower body weight (-1.67 +/- 0.67 kg, unadjusted P = 0.013). There was less fat mass (P = 0.071), trunk fat mass (P = 0.10) and less intra-abdominal adipose tissue over the olive oil. They concluded that consuming coconut oil when coupled with a weight loss plan can enhance weight loss. The studies showed a direct correlation between consumption of coconut oil and belly fat.
Total Intake of Saturated Fats
Based on the studies, you will need to take two tablespoons of coconut oil per day for 12 weeks to see initial results. Make sure you use always use virgin coconut oil. Hydrogenated coconut oil contains Trans fats which can increase your cholesterol levels. Total saturated fat intake, including the coconut oil, should be limited to 7 percent of your total calories for the day, as recommended according to the American Heart Association.
Cathie Glennon, BCRPA-SFL
3)Fife B. (2004). The Coconut Oil Miracle. New York: Avery.
Papamandjaris A, MacDougall D, Jones P. Medium chain fatty acid metabolism and energy expenditure: obesity treatment implications. Life Sciences 1998;62: 1203-121.
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