Is Coconut Oil all it’s cracked up to be? If you’ve done any reading up on this, you’d think you’ve found some super hidden method to longevity, ultimate leanness, skin preservation and hair protector and it’s been in your grocery store forever!
At some point when you started to get really involved in fitness, you’ve heard that saturated fats are bad but you should know the importance of fats in your diet overall is a good thing. A very low fat diet is not really a good thing. That’s so 1970′s! Especially for those of us wanting to build muscle or men wanting to improve testosterone.
Maybe you’ve heard to keep your overall fat intake high around 30% (healthy fat) and as low as 15%. For men, having fat intake higher is said to improve testosterone. But when experts say “healthy fat” they mostly mean monounsatured (e.g. olive, canola and peanut oils or from avacados and nuts) and polyunsatured (e.g. soybean, corn, sunflower) rarely if EVER do the tell you to increase your saturated fat intake and nobody should be telling you to increase your trans-fats!
Here’s the ever famous research when anybody links to tropical oils as being the secret cure. Tropical oils are the Pacific Island populations as wine, cheese and high fats foods are to the French.
Did you know that multiple studies on Pacific Island populations who get 30-60 percent of their total caloric intake from fully saturated coconut oil have all shown nearly non-existent rates of cardiovascular disease? (1)
Coconut Oil is made up of 90% saturated fats but are considered to be Medium Chain Triglycerides or MCTs. Some researchers feel that because of its structure, the saturated fat found in coconut oil is not as damaging as other saturated fats, like those found in animal products.(2)
Some research suggests that MCTs, like those produced from coconut oil are more rapidly absorbed than other fats. They can be used as energy faster than glucose (sugar) and have twice as many calories. Meaning, it could be a very good fat for energy, intense workouts and later recovery.
MCTs are absorbed so quickly. Because of this, they rarely get stored as fat and they can be used for energy so they help spare protein. In fact, MCTs might even act as carriers for amino acids and help your ability assimilate protein.
Additional Proposed Benefits of Coconut Oil:
-Improving your heart health
-Boosting your thyroid
-Increasing your metabolism
-Promoting a lean body and weight loss if needed (3)
-Supporting your immune system
-Improve skin(4)and hair conditions(5)
-Faster weight and growth in preterm babies(6)
-This is quite a list of benefits at this point and you MIGHT be tempted to rush out, buy some coconut oil and start cooking with it or using it on salads or put it into your protein shakes.
“…we like it as a replacement for less healthy, processed saturated and trans fats. We’re not suggesting you buy tubs of coconut oil and eat it by the spoonful. It’s not about “adding” coconut oil to a junky diet. It’s about replacing. That’s the key.” ~Christopher Mohr, PhD, RD, CSSD of Mohr Results
“Just because a food is high in saturated fat doesn’t necessarily mean it increases blood cholesterol or contributes to heart disease. The effect of saturated fat varies from person to person, depending on genetics, weight, other dietary and lifestyle factors, and even gender (saturated fat tends to increase LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, more in men). In addition, tropical oils contain other substances that can affect the risk of heart disease—and how the oils are processed may matter, too. What’s key is your overall diet. Adding tropical oils in the context of a healthy diet is unlikely to affect blood cholesterol significantly.” ~ Berkeley Wellness Letter; October 2010 (8)
Most experts recommend you use unprocessed, extra virgin coconut oil (otherwise it becomes processed, hydrogenated and then the health benefits are void). Remember that you don’t want trans-fats in any amounts. So get the unprocessed type.
Even with this small laundry list of possible benefits, the overall recommendation to keep saturated fats to 10% of total fats (7) although that is debated among current fitness professionals and is the subject of some hot debate!
Bottom Line: It’s a Healthy Saturated Fat and You Should Keep it in Check
You’ll want to use the unprocessed, extra virgin coconut oil.
If you can, replace animal fats or otherwise processed fats with this alternative.
Be aware of the added calories because ultimately anything can and will be stored as fat.
MCTs can be used for energy but if you consume more than you expend, you will store and gain unwanted weight.
1. Kaunitz H, Dayrit CS. Coconut oil consumption and coronary heart disease. Philippine Journal of Internal Medicine, 1992;30:165-171
2. Amarasiri WA, Dissanayake AS. Coconut fats.Ceylon Med J. 2006 Jun;51(2):47-51.
3. Assuno ML, Ferreira HS, dos Santos AF, Cabral CR Jr, Florancio TM. Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity.Lipids. 2009 Jul;44(7):593-601. Epub 2009 May 13.
4. Agero AL, Verallo-Rowell VM.A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis.Dermatitis. 2004 Sep;15(3):109-116.
5. Rele AS, Mohile RB. Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. J Cosmet Sci. 2003 Mar-Apr;54(2):17-192.
6. Sankaranarayanan K, Mondkar JA, Chauhan MM, Mascarenhas BM, Mainkar AR, Salvi RY. Oil massage in neonates: an open randomized controlled study of coconut versus mineral oil.Indian Pediatr. 2005 Sep;42(9):877-884.
7. In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) expert consultation report concluded that “intake of saturated fatty acids is directly related to cardiovascular risk. The traditional target is to restrict the intake of saturated fatty acids to less than 10% of daily energy intake and less than 7% for high-risk groups.
8. ”Back to the Tropics” University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter. October 2010; Volume 27; Issue 1. www.WellnessLetter.com
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About the Author:
Marc David is an innovative fitness enthusiast and the creator of the “NoBull Bodybuilding System” method on www.nobullbodybuilding.com
He can show you how to reduce your body fat thru diet, how to gain weight or create more muscle thru an abundance of workout tips by training LESS, not more! Once a self-confessed skinny, “135-pound weakling.” Today Marc is a 200 pound bodybuilder who teaches thousands of people to gain weight, build muscle and reduce body fat with a workout and nutrition system so simple that even a complete beginner can understand it! Marc dispels many “bodybuilding myths”, tells you what most people never realize about nutrition, and what the drug companies DON’T WANT YOU to know. Visit www.nobullbodybuilding.com