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Nuts About Coconut Oil! Part 1

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

Coconut Oil

It is all the rage at the moment, think ‘superfood’; ‘fat-burner’ you get my drift. Non-scientific words aside, how does this product really stack up nutritionally. Is it as good for you as that Facebook post you just scrolled through or that magazine you just read make you believe it is? To help answer this question, read on to find out more.

One of the most common coconut products and becoming ever more present in the diet of the general population. Promoted by many as a ‘fat-burner’ has resulted in the every day person trying to lose weight jumping on the band-wagon and including coconut oil in their diet.

To understand why simply consuming coconut oil is not likely to make you lose weight we first must look at the science. The majority of dietary fats and oils are made up of triglycerides containing fatty-acid chains of differing lengths. Vegetable oils and animal fats are comprised of long-chained triglycerides (LCTs), while coconut oil is different as it is made up of 60-65% medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). This may not seem like a big deal, but LCTs and MCTs are metabolized differently in the body with MCTs being absorbed and metabolized more quickly than LCTs. The result is more energy being used by the body when metabolizing MCTs compared to LCTS.

LCTs have a more complex metabolism whereby they make several pit stops before reaching their final destination. This results in fat being dropped in various locations prior to this. The majority of MCT- rich coconut oil is turned into energy rather than being stored as body fat. This is great news right? The metabolism of MCTs burns more energy…this is exactly what we want?! Wait a second…there is a catch …you must substitute the coconut oil for an equal amount of LCTs already present in your diet. If you are just adding coconut oil into your diet you are just adding extra calories!!

So you have done away with LCTs and substituted equal amounts for MCT-rich coconut oil, now you should see the weight just drop off right? Seems logical, but it isn’t quite that easy! Your diet isn’t just made up of MCTs. You also consume carbohydrates, protein and other fat sources. So while your body is busy using MCTs for energy it is not tapping into your fat stores for energy. It is important to remember the key factor to losing weight or resisting weight gain is consuming fewer calories than you are burning. You can’t take shortcuts or play nutrition trickery.

Having said this I am not against the use of coconut oil in moderation. Coconut oil has some positives, which are good to know.

  • More resistant to spoiling than other popular cooking fats

  • It is a suitable substitute for butter for individuals who follow a vegan diet

  • A slightly sweet, light flavour make it a great addition to some curries and in baking

  • Minimal processing makes it more predictable in regard to quality and sourcing

Stay tuned next week for my next blog about coconut sugar, milk and water and what you need to know about these products.

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