Most of us have heard about coconut oil. People use it in their recipes and cooking, and also to replace body care products such as a moisturizer or makeup remover. But what exactly is it about coconut oil that makes it healthy? And which type is best?
What is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is fat and contains the same 9 calories per gram as other fats.
It is extracted from the “meat” of the coconut. Coconut oil is a white solid at room temperature and easily melts into a clear liquid on a hot day.
The idea of adding coconut oil to your diet is NOT to add on to what you already eat but to substitute it for some of the (possibly) less healthy fats you may be eating now.
And here’s why – Because not all calories or fats are created equal.
Coconut oil contains a unique type of fat known as “Medium Chain Triglycerides” (MCTs). In fact, 65% of the fat in coconut oil are these MCTs.
What makes MCTs unique is how your body metabolizes them; they’re easily absorbed into the bloodstream by your gut, where they go straight to the liver. That means they’re not stored in our fat and instead are easily burned for fuel.
This metabolic process, unique to MCTs, is what sets coconut oil apart from other fats.
MCTs May Help with Fat Loss
Coconut oil’s MCTs have been shown to have a few different fat loss benefits.
First, it can help to increase feelings of fullness, which can lead to a natural reduction in the amount of food you eat.
Second, because of their unique metabolic route, MCTs can also increase the number of calories you burn; this happens when you compare the calories burned after eating the same amount of other fats. In fact, a few studies show that coconut oil may increase the number of calories you burn by as much as 5%.
Third, some studies show that eating coconut oil can help reduce belly fat (a.k.a. “waist circumference”).
Just remember not to add coconut oil to your diet without reducing other fats and oils! Many of the studies that showed increased fullness, increased metabolism, and reduced belly fat used about 2 tablespoons per day. You probably don’t need any more than that.
Want some recipes that use coconut oil to get you started? My 5 Day Sugar-free meal plan includes my favourite grain-free bread, a delicious smoothie, a stir fry and more to get you started with coconut oil.
Which Coconut Oil is Best?
There are so many coconut oil options available in grocery stores that it can make it difficult to know which is best.
I recommend staying away from “refined” ones and opting for “virgin” coconut oil. That is because it is processed at lower temperatures and avoids chemical solvents used in the refining process; this helps to preserve more of the oil’s natural health-promoting antioxidants.
Pro Tip: Always (and I mean ALWAYS) avoid “hydrogenated” coconut oil because it contains “trans fats.”
One thing you should also consider is that oils have a specific temperature that you should avoid surpassing (e.g. its “smoke point”) when cooking. 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.
NOTE: If you would like to use coconut or another oil to cook at higher temperatures, then please see my “What Oil Should I Cook With?” post here.
Substitute some of the fat you eat with virgin coconut oil; this may help you to lose weight and belly fat by naturally helping you to eat less, as well as slightly increasing your metabolism.
Oh, and it tastes great too!
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