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Why Coconut Oil Is A Legitimate Fat Loss Super-Food

Of all the fats, coconut oil is without question one of the most controversial regarding benefits depending on who you ask. Some “health experts” will tell you that coconut oil is bad for you because it contains mostly saturated fat.

I put that in quotation marks because these individuals are far from experts in my book. There can be open discussion and review on how well coconut oil actually helps to facilitate fat oxidation over other oils, but anybody who is still stuck in the “saturated fat is bad” mindset is hanging on to an outdated theory plain and simple.

The research and science isn’t there. Can we please end this whole stupid perpetuation that saturated fats are to blame for our chronic ills related to heart disease? Enough is enough!

After several decades of government education, USDA food pyramids, and the mainstream medical community promoting this to no end, we’re waking up to the reality that it’s not working so hot.

Do we expect them to admit they may have been wrong? Come on now, don’t hold your breath on that. However, there are more and more top physicians, cardiologists, and health professionals stepping forward to challenge this notion out of good conscience.

Pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars on statin drugs to lower cholesterol and the “war on saturated fat” has helped to make this happen. There are more people in this country with cardiovascular heart disease than EVER, yet saturated fat consumption has gone down significantly over the past thirty years.

Drugs aren’t the answer to our health problems and saturated fat isn’t the villain the powers that be have made it out to be. That’s a subject for discussion all by itself so let’s get back to coconut oil.

What makes the saturated fat in coconut oil different?

With 92% of the fat in coconut oil coming from saturated fats, this makes it bad in some people’s opinion. Here’s what they don’t know, or won’t admit to. Coconut oil is unusual because it contains a high percentage of medium chain triglycerides, or MCT’s. More on why that’s so important in a second.

Most oils used for consumption or cooking consist entirely of long-chain triglycerides, or LCT’s.  Bear with me on a little technical jargon. LCT’s are considered “long-chain” triglycerides because they are 12 or more chains of carbon. Soybean oil, for example is 100 percent LCT’s.

Medium chain triglycerides are named as such because they contain 6 to 12 chains of carbon. Coconut oil so you know contains approximately 40% LCT’s and 60% MCT’s.

Why is this significant?

Because the human body metabolizes MCT’s differently than LCT’s. This is a fact that some critics either don’t know or won’t acknowledge. Bodybuilders have known this to be true for years although they may have not known the “why.” They simply knew it to be true from real world experience. When they used MCT’s during fat loss phases, they cut up better and saw superior results.

Here’s the “why” part of all this…

MCT’s are unique in that they’re transported directly from the gastrointestinal tract to the liver where they’re likely to be burned off as fuel instead of deposited into fat cells. Research also confirms that MCT’s can slightly increase metabolic rate. These are both good things in relation to fat loss.  Bottom line is more of the MCT’s are used in the Krebs cycle for energy production and less is circulated through the body.

Does this mean that coconut oil is going to miraculously melt away the pounds like some individuals claim?

Of course not, the individuals touting such claims are also probably trying to sell you on their affiliated brand of coconut oil. Let’s keep this within reasonable expectations.

There have been some studies that are used to disprove the idea of coconut oil being beneficial for weight loss, but from what I’ve seen they’re not very convincing.

Studies on coconut oil in relation to weight loss…

One particular study had 40 obese women cut their food intake by 200 calories a day and incorporate exercise four days a week. Half of them used two tablespoons of coconut oil (about 240 calories worth) every day in their cooking and the other half used soybean oil.

After three months, both groups had lost approximately the same amount of weight, about two pounds and the average waist circumference stayed the same.

So we’re to conclude that coconut oil wasn’t any more beneficial than say soybean oil for weight loss? Are you kidding me? These were obese women who cut 200 calories a day and used two tablespoons of oil in their cooking. This isn’t going to swing big doors with fat loss.

The weight they did lose, a measly two pounds was likely the result of the exercise. The parameters of this study make it so the conclusions don’t show much one way or the other.

In another study there were 31 obese men and women who were set up on 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day with half of the participants getting 12% of their calories from MCT’s and the other half getting it from olive oil.

After four months, the group who consumed MCT’s lost on average 4 more pounds than those consuming the olive oil.


American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition: 87:621, 2008
Lipids 44: 593, 2009
Nutrition Metabolism 6: 31, 2009
American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition: 94: 1451, 2011

This is worth noting. It certainly doesn’t mean coconut oil is superior to olive oil from a health standpoint, but it makes a case for MCT’s possibly being superior to other oils from a fat loss perspective.

Granted, coconut oil is only about 60% MCT’s like stated earlier. Consuming straight MCT’s is not in order for most individuals as well…it tastes like crap. You can try going that route but coconut oil added to your diet will be way more enjoyable.

To put everything in context, I’m not looking at coconut oil as some magic bullet solution to fat loss. It ideally could be incorporated into a diet with other fats and oils, especially those high in omega-3’s.

Why I consider coconut oil to be a fat loss “super-food”

The reason I call coconut oil a fat loss “superfood” in the title because of what else it brings to the table. Coconut oil has potent anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that make it extremely helpful in the gastrointestinal tract. This is the part of the body where most inflammation stems from. The healthier your digestive tract, the better you’ll be with fat loss.

While coconut oil can be used in liquid form, it actually hardens up some at room temperature. This makes it ideal to use as a spread on certain foods or you can pull it straight off the spoon. It actually has an appealing taste in my opinion so it’s not something you’ll have to choke down.

Coconut oil is also a great oil to cook with because it’s very heat stable, meaning it won’t break down as easily when used with higher temperatures. It may not be the optimal oil to cook with for temperatures above 350 degrees (that is the smoke point), but it certainly has its place in the kitchen.

I highly recommend you experiment with coconut oil as the benefits are numerous. The purpose of this post was not to make it out to be a miracle fat loss solution, but rather dispel some the misconceptions about it being “bad” because of the saturated fat.

Having said that, I’d include it in my top ten list of foods that help support fat loss. While there may not be extensive research to draw clear cut conclusions, experience with weight loss clients in the real world has given me all the proof I need to draw a correlation to the benefits.

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Fitness Training Studios. If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Charleston, you can receive a no-obligations personal training trial and consultation without risking a dime. Over 1000 Charleston area residents have transformed their bodies following our unique burst training workouts and simplified nutrition programs. Experience the Shaping Concepts difference today.

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Category: Nutrition.