When it comes to using coconut oil for weight loss, it is not just another fad diet.
There is science behind why it helps burn fat and we’ll look at some of that below.
The first thing to understand, as described in Coconut Oil Benefits, not all saturated fats are created equal.
Unfortunately due to an aggressive advertising campaign run in the 80’s by soybean farmers looking to increase their market share, we’ve come to believe that ALL saturated fats are unhealthy for us. But, this is only true of long-chain fatty acids, not short- or medium-chain fatty acids.
Remember: Fats are NOT the same as fatty acids!
Using “organic” coconut oil for weight loss is beneficial because the oil consists primarily of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), the kind that are not only good for you, but essential for brain function, muscle function (including heart muscle!), healing, energy and more.
Coconut oil doesn’t raise blood glucose levels and it is processed immediately by the body and turned into energy. It isn’t stored in the body where it can be turned into fat. For this reason it boosts the metabolic rate. The MCFA’s don’t even require pancreatic digestive enzymes to break them down. According to Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D. in his book The Coconut Oil Miracle*, the metabolic rate stays elevated for at least 24 hours after eating, meaning more energy and fat burning throughout your day.
Coconut Oil for Weight Loss and Thyroid
Due to poor testing of the thyroid many people suffer from poor thyroid function (hypothyroidism) and don’t even know it. When your thyroid is sluggish you can’t lose weight no matter how little you eat.
Symptoms of a sluggish thyroid are:
- Weight issues
- Cold hands and feet
- Low body temperature
- Depression and anxiety
- Insomnia and other sleep problems
- Dry skin and brittle nails
- Allergies and asthma
- Hair loss
Unsaturated oils block protein digestion in the stomach which can leave us malnourished even while eating healthy foods striving for weight loss. Changes in hormones caused by unsaturated fats can damage the thyroid. They can also block thyroid hormone secretion and its regular functions through the circulatory system, and tissues in the body.
Refined unsaturated vegetable oils suppress thyroid function and can cause weight gain. “Organic” coconut oil is not unsaturated and doesn’t have these negative effects on thyroid function. Instead, coconut oil helps the thyroid gland to function normally, and it helps people meet and stay at their ideal weight. Coconut oil also stimulates metabolism therefore promoting weight loss.
In 2009, a study was conducted on women with abdominal obesity and the effects of coconut oil supplementation. Forty women, from age 20 to 40 years who had a waist circumference greater than 34.6 inches, received a daily dietary supplement of either 30 mL of coconut oil or 30 mL of soybean oil. The study lasted 12 weeks. Upon completion of the 12 weeks only the coconut oil group had a reduction in waist circumference. The coconut oil group experienced no changes in cholesterol levels, but the soybean oil group experienced a decrease in HDL levels and an increase in both LDL levels and LDL:HDL ratios. The scientists concluded that coconut oil does not cause high cholesterol and triglycerides. This study demonstrated that the women taking coconut oil had a reduction in abdominal obesity while taking coconut oil.165
A previous study in 2003 observed whether a diet containing medium and long chain triglycerides (MLCT) like those found in coconut oil could decrease accumulation of body fat in a group of healthy people. The study lasted 12 weeks. The participants in the MLCT group were given bread for breakfast daily, made with 14 g of MLCT containing 1.7 g medium-chain fatty acids. The control group was given bread made with long-chain triacylglycerols (LCT). Upon completion the subjects experienced significant decreases of body weight in the MLCT group. As well as a decrease in serum total cholesterol was noted in the MLCT group compared with that of the LCT group. The scientists concluded that the daily consumption of MLCTs could reduce serum total cholesterol and could cause a reduction in body weight as well as accumulation of body fat.166
How to Use Coconut Oil for Weight Loss and Thyroid
The easiest way to start using “organic” coconut oil for weight loss is by eating it by the spoonful. Use a small amount until your body gets used to it.
To get a good amount of medium chain fatty acids researchers recommend adults consume about 3 1/2 tablespoons spread throughout the day. The easiest way to use it is to replace the unhealthy oils you may currently be using.
Transitioning into cooking with coconut oil is very simple. Coconut oil has a delicious coconutty smell. A good way to know you have a quality coconut oil is by this fragrant smell. It will add a slight coconut flavor to your cooking but it’s one I welcome and love. If you prefer to cook with a flavorless coconut oil you can opt for expeller pressed coconut oil. Keep in mind this will not offer as many health benefits and anti-oxidants as the virgin oil will.
Virgin “organic” coconut oil has a relatively high smoke point of 350 degrees F (177 C). What this means is that when oil is heated to a high temperature, it reaches its smoke point and this is the temperature that the fats and oils begin to break down. The nutrition and flavor then degrade and the chemical composition of the oil changes at these temperatures. These changes are harmful to health.
Extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point of 320 degrees F (160 C); butter has a smoke point of 350 degrees F (177 C); canola oil ranges from 225-435 degrees F with the more refined it is having the higher smoke point. These are all conservative numbers. More refined coconut oil would obviously have a higher smoke point as well. (Canola is one of the main ingredients in most vegetable oils and I avoid feeding it to my family.)
With its high smoke point coconut oil is a superior choice for all cooking and baking in addition to its many raw uses. When it comes to baking I search the internet for good recipes where the ratios of substituting coconut oil have already been figured out and experimented with.
Many times if replacing coconut oil in baking, when a recipe calls for vegetable oil, the end product will have a drier texture. This can be avoided by using recipes that call for coconut oil and there are many of them out there now. When frying with coconut oil you would use the same amount you would use of any other oil or butter. Keep in mind it is not safe to go above any oil’s smoke point.
Here are some ideas to get you started in cooking with coconut oil:
- Spread it on your bread
- Drop a spoonful or more in your smoothies for a tropical flavor
- Add it to your soups and sauces
- Replace your normal oil to saute vegetables with it
- Put it on your rice, in mashed potatoes or on baked potatoes
- Fry foods healthier by adding coconut oil
A couple of favorite simple coconut oil recipes are below.
Honey Butter Spread for bread and muffins:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup raw honey
Savory Spread for bread:
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
Coconut Oil Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup coconut vinegar
1 tsp raw honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly groundÂ black pepper
1/2 cup coconut oil, liquefied
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
Whisk vinegar, honey, salt and pepper until salt dissolves. Slowly add oils and continue whisking. Allow to stand 5 minutes and serve over crisp salad.
Justin and Tara Wagner are the founders and creators of Sustainable Baby Steps, where they are dedicated to guiding you to go green, live simply and abundantly, and be healthy…without stress, overwhelm, or wasting a lot of time, energy, or money. The point is not to live in fear of what might happen, but to create a life actually worth sustaining by examining our choices, our habits, and our needs and living in alignment with what brings us joy and connection (to ourselves, others, and the Earth). Their website helps others do these things by offering information and inspiration for everything from baby steps to giant leaps in sustainable living.
*Any health-related topics shared on this site are solely the opinion of the author or guest author. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products or statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Sustainable Baby Steps is not a replacement for your own best judgment or a medical professional where indicated. Always consult your own opinion and/or your health care provider when making important health care choices. Read entire disclaimer here.