Can Coconut Oil Really Help You Lose Weight?
9 months ago, 29 Dec 23:50
Coconut oil is seeing a serious surge in popularity, and not just because it makes everything taste uber-tropical. The oil, extracted from the flesh of a coconut, is rumored to boost dieters' weight-loss efforts. Because it’s derived from a plant and not animal products, many believe coconut oil is a healthy source of saturated fat, says Florida-based registered dietitian Alyssa Cohen, R.D. Paleo dieters commonly use it as a substitute for butter, lard, and other sources of saturated fat, and also add it to foods (stir fry, baked goods) and drinks (coffee, smoothies) to boost satiety. Some biohackers even drink a tablespoon of coconut oil with hot water pre-meal to reduce appetite. So how seriously should we be taking the whole coconut oil-weight loss love affair—and is it time for an oil change? We got in touch with the experts to find out. (Speed up your progress towards your weight-loss goals with Women's Health's Look Better Naked DVD.) Coconut oil contains a relatively high concentration of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)—a fatty acid that’s processed more efficiently by the body than the long-chain dietary fats found in most foods (think: meat and dairy products), explains Cohen. Long-chain fatty acids take the scenic route as they metabolize (break down), setting up camp in fat tissue along the way. MCTs, however, take a shortcut that allows them to be metabolized super-fast and burned as energy instead. Currently, however, there’s a lack of consistent evidence that the coconut oil-weight loss link is legit. “The few small-scale studies that have been performed show that consuming coconut oil may cause very modest reductions in weight,” says New Jersey-based registered dietitian Dafna Chazin, R.D.N., but there’s no evidence to suggest that doing so can lead to significant weight loss. Or that it can lead to weight loss over the long-term. Check out some of the weirdest weight-loss trends through history: Meanwhile, a recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that coconut oil didn’t perform any better than olive oil at boosting metabolism or increasing satiety among overweight women. (Cue sad trombone.) Fats are the most calorically dense of all the macronutrients we nosh on (clocking in at roughly nine calories per gram). Coconut oil, specifically, contains a whopping 120 calories per tablespoon and 12 grams of saturated fat—which, for many, is more than half the recommended daily amount. “When managing weight, the most important thing is calorie awareness—practicing proper portion control and spreading out fat servings throughout the day,” Chazin says. “Adding coconut oil to your coffee or smoothie without balancing those extra calories elsewhere in your day will likely lead to weight gain, not loss.” Bottom line: “Coconut oil is way overhyped, and will not elicit weight loss in the absence of overall calorie restriction,” says Boston-based registered dietitian Sheri Kasper, R.D.N. “Diets work because they create a calorie deficit." Even though using coconut oil alone won’t help you ditch those pesky pounds, it may trigger a domino effect of healthier eating habits. Adding ...
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