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Can Coconut Oil Help With Weight Loss (Part 2)

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Lately, weight-loss hype seems to have shifted from pills to natural products. Coconut oil, widely touted as the ‘secret’ to effortless fat loss, represents the newest craze. But just how useful is coconut oil for fat loss?

Unlike pills, coconut oil offers real nutrition and therefore has the potential to help your metabolism operate in a healthier way, thereby assisting with weight loss. But whether you can actually lose fat faster by adding coconut oil to your diet depends entirely on whether or not you are already getting equivalent nutrients from other foods.

Breakfast Smoothie: 1 Hass avocado, diced 1/2 cup plain yogurt 1/2 cup whole milk 1/4 cup cream of coconut 8 ice cubes Directions Combine avocado, yogurt, milk, cream of coconut, and ice cubes in a blender; blend until smooth. Effective Carb: 6

For the duration of my ten years in Hawaii, I think I only managed to consume the equivalent of a coconut or two. I DO love the rich, nutty-sweet flavor of coconut in all its forms (fresh, toasted, etc.). But since my personal chef, Luke, was more into using butter and olive oil, coconuts just didn’t make their way into many of our meals. If you’ve read Deep Nutrition, you already know that while in Hawaii I shed about 20 lbs without even trying and that this minor miracle was accomplished not with coconut oil but rather by balancing my diet.

Does coconut oil have special fatty acids that help with weight loss?

The key nutrient relatively unique to coconut oil is the medium chain fatty acids. Since we ate lots of other tropical fruits and nuts (macadamia, avocado), and butter from pastured cows, we had other sources of medium chain fatty acids. It’s not that these fatty acids will help with weight loss per se; they can help other aspects of health and thereby indirectly improve your weight. For example, medium chain fatty acids do have the ability to help kill viruses that hide behind a coating of fatty acids, specifically flu, hepatitis, and herpes-viruses. They also bind to albumen and other blood proteins that bind thyroid hormone and consuming more of them may help to optimize your thyroid hormone function by kicking the hormones off these carrier proteins and releasing them back into solution.

So if you don’t like coconut, you can seek these alternative sources of medium chain fatty acids and take heart in the fact that anyone can get healthy and lose weight (or more correctly, lose fat) by cutting carbs, avoiding MegaTrans fats, and getting all four of the Four Pillars into their diets, which essentially guarantees a balanced, nutrient rich, genetically optimal diet. No coconuts needed.

Are coconuts really good for you?

As with ANY food, the health-giving properties of coconut depend ENTIRELY on source and tradition.

Source refers to the plot of land that the coconut came from. Was it polluted? Was the soil depleted? Was the tree’s health fortified or destabilized by a climate in balance or in stress?

In general, the land coconut groves sit on tends to be relatively fit because coconuts grow in sand, the trees live for over 100 years, and coconut crops typically do not need artificial fertilizer inputs. These hardy trees are also fairly resistant to insect infestation and tend to produce well even without pesticide applications. Still, I would look for organic on the label. Though its no guarantee of purity, at least its a good start.

Tradition refers to the sum total of all human-activity that transported the coconut from the tree to your table. How was it harvested? Was it heated or pasteurized? Were chemical preservatives added? How long did it sit?

In general, the harvesting and handling of coconuts remains relatively non-industrialized because coconut oil resists deterioration through enzymatic decay (which could create rancid flavors), and so coconut milk and cream do not require the bleaching and harsh refining involved in the processing of vegetable oil. Additionally, because coconut oil it mostly composed of saturated fatty acids that resist heat-induced deterioration, coconut oil does not contain harmful MegaTrans fats.

My personal affinity for coconuts derives mainly from the simple fact that they’re yummy, healthy, and  they store well, so you can make a FAST super-healthy breakfast smoothie (see above) using inexpensive ingredients that keep for a while.

Confused by a cornucopia of coconut creams? Got coconut-milk conundrums?

Here’s a fantastic video from my friends at Rouxbe.com about buying coconut milk products.

Click Here to Subscribe

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Dr. Cate

With over two decades of clinical experience and expertise in genetic and biochemical research, Dr. Cate can help you to reverse metabolic disease and reshape your body.

  • I found you via Jimmy’s podcast. I haven’t actually heard the podcast yet (I’ll get a chance on the commute home this evening), but your site is VERY interesting — and I love your sense of humor.

    I guess I’m going to have to try that coconut-avocado smoothie, although I’ll have to make a special trip for the milk, owing to the fact that I haven’t had any milk in the house for a while. I think there is a diary close by where I can get some fresh milk (for $8/gallon though, OUCH!).

    I have been adding some MCT oil to my diet lately, and I think I’ve noticed some cognitive enhancements. That may be just Hawthorne Effect — or it might be that the several years I spent on the unnatural & grossly unhealthy McDougall diet may have caused Alzheimer’s-type damage to my brain which has been mitigated by going low-carb in 1999. MCT oil raises the level of ketones, which has been demonstrated to dramatically help Alzheimer’s victims. I’m already keto-adapted (for several years now), but on days that I take a couple of T MCT oil, I find it easier to focus and concentrate on complex mental tasks.

    Which is a GOOD thing, because I earn my living writing software.

  • Dr. Kate,
    I first came across you on an Underground Wellness pod cast. I loved your story, and evidence of what real foods can do for us. I watched your both broth video with your husband and now make my family bone broth many times a month. Coconut oil is a daily part of our lives as well. I have 3 and 4 year old girls as well as a 12 year old son and your work has helped give my kids a chance at knowing real foods. I am starting my own company which will help men to find their hearts and health is a huge part of that journey. Thanks for your inspiration and I will use you as a reference in many of my articles, speeches and books. Keep on keeping it real (food!!)

    Mark Pierce

  • Mike

    Greetings, I’m adding this comment pretty late, so I don’t know how many folks will see it:

    I’ve been using all sorts of coconut products for well over a year. I frequently make fresh milk from whole nuts. Homemade milk is considerably cheaper and less processed than canned, but it is a bit labor intensive. However, there is a good alternative to cans that offers that homemade touch without all the time and effort (and mess!): “Coconut Butter” a.k.a. “Creamed Coconut” (Not to be confused with “Coconut Cream”).
    This is simply finely pulverized coconut. It is a whole food which still contains the flesh and oil (which are typically extracted during the “milking” process and sold as separate products ). Just add warm liquid. Be aware that the resulting cream will have a slightly rough texture as it still contains the fiber.

    By far the absolute best (and most expensive!) butter is Artisana: http://www.artisanafoods.com/products/coconut-butter

    But cheaper products w/ acceptable quality are available: http://www.edwardandsons.com/ldo_shop_coconut.itml

    For a nice rich sauce dissolve coconut butter into bone broth and add some red curry paste. This goes great w/ winter squash or sweet potatoes! Add some sautéd red onion and chopped crispy bacon. Finish w/ butter and fresh cilantro.

    Enjoy! Mike

    • HI MIke

      Thanks for the tips, and the succulent sounding sauce!

  • thanks cate!

  • Josh
    Smoking is too hot. Seriously. In other words, too hot is pretty obvious. It’s called the smoke point. But you’re adding foods that raise the smoke point above the predicted value. So as always the best bet is do what a good chef (not one of those on Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares) would do, and don’t burn it.

    I like to keep it simple.

  • Wild sage:
    It’ll cost you about $1.50-2.50 to find out!

  • Pam
    You’ve gotta do your own calculations depending on what else is available. For instance, if you can get great butter (pastured) and like it, then stick with that. BPA is a potential big problem, especially for pregnant women and little kids. But at some point you gotta realize the real problem is that we’ve kinda polluted everything in one way or another and how much can you keep worrying. At some point, most of us will ask ourselves: It worth the stress? Do the best you can.

  • Daniel
    Pastured pasteurized butter is all that’s available to me most of the year and I love it. Ghee (clarified butter) is a kind of cooked butter, so there’s a long history of consuming butter that’s not perfectly fresh.

  • I’ve sort of been on and off cooking with coconut oil vs EV olive oil, and of course butter. I know the main thing with olive oil is that it doesn’t do well at high temperatures, but I haven’t found a good way to gauge how hot is too hot.

    Can I do some relatively low heat frying with EV olive oil, or should I shell out for coconut oil?

    Thanks!

  • We’ve heard a bunch of great things about coconut oil and have recently tried using it in our cooking.

    Also LOVE LOVE LOVE avocado and know they are super healthy… Never thought about a breakfast smoothie with avocado, though. Is is tasty? Can you taste avocado or does the coconut cover that up?

  • Pam

    Hi Dr. Cate –

    I love coconut products but have tended to shy away from the canned ones because of BPA. Do the health benefits of coconut outweigh the BPA? I was surprised that canned goods were so prevalent in this video. Curious also about canned pumpkin this time of year 🙂

    thanks! Pam

  • Daniel

    I love coconut oil, specially coconut milk which makes awesome chocolate smoothies. I eat about a can a day and I don’t gain weight from it. One question regarding butter Dr. Cate: I eat A LOT of butter, no less than 2 ounces a day. I buy organic raw butter but my question is regarding the butter I get when the supply is short on raw butter. I get pastured butter from Kerrygold; it’s sinfully scrumptious. The caveat with it it’s that it is pasteurized. I know it’s not as deleterious as pasteurized milk because of the denatured proteins in milk but I would still like to know what you think of pastured pasteurized butter. Would this be an okay food to consume? Thank you!

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