The use of coconut oil has grown incredibly rapidly over the past couple of years. From using it as a moisturiser, cleanser, or natural hair softener, to cooking with it and using it as an ingredient in vegan cooking; coconut oil is everywhere, and it seems it can be used for almost anything….
A wonderful alternative to chemical-based products, coconut oil is certainly beneficial when used on the body, but when we ingest it, what it does inside the body is pretty incredible too. Boosting metabolism and energy production, as well as helping stabilise blood sugar levels and hormone imbalances, and raising HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol levels, are just a few of the benefits it provides. Despite being a saturated fat (which as a culture, we’ve feared since the whole ‘low fat’ craze swept across the Western world and saw us swapping real whole foods for ‘low fat’ processed ready meals), coconut oil is a good fat, and can actually be very helpful in reducing body fat. [click here for another blog I wrote for LoveLifeSupplements on why Fats are Friends Not Foes]
So fats are good for helping to reduce excess fat…. Sound confusing?
Rhonda Patrick, founder of the blog and podcast Found My Fitness, explains in a little more detail how beneficial consuming coconut oil is:
In contrast [to plant oils and animal fats] medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil are absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) with ease, they do not require any pancreatic enzymes to break them down, which means less work for your pancreas. Next, medium chain fatty acids are transported to the portal blood stream, directly to the liver, where they go directly into mitochondria independent of the carnitine palmitoyl transferase, and are immediately oxidized for energy. Medium chain fatty acids from coconut oil do not get packaged into lipoproteins, and do not get transported to a variety of tissues and are not stored as body fat, they go directly to the liver and are metabolized for energy.1 The bottom line is that medium chain fatty acids from coconut oil produces almost exclusively energy, whereas, long chain fatty acids found in all other dietary fats, are stored as body fat (and some energy).
Coconut oil can help lower levels of inflammation, aiding in relief from IBS and constipation, gallstones and helping the body absorb more fat-soluble minerals like vitamin A, D, E and K. So essentially, if you want to be able to absorb the benefits of things like carrots, kale, and mushrooms, cook them lightly in coconut oil! A bonus? It doesn’t spoil at high temperatures (unlike olive oil and most other plant oils. As a by-product of the satiety of coconut oil, you’re also likely to feel full for longer, preventing snacking or an onset of hangry (the terrible thing of becoming short tempered and angry when you’re hungry).
To help you make the most of this wonder oil, here are a few simple ways to use coconut oil in the kitchen:
- Use it to stir fry with, as the nutrients in the oil stay stable when used with heat
- Add a couple of tea spoons to a roasting tray for roasting sweet potato, carrots and beetroot
- Add a tbsp. to a smoothie to make it more satisfying, and more nutritionally dense
- Mix a tbsp. of coconut oil with a tbsp. of chia seeds for a super satisfying and long-lasting energy boost
- Add a tea spoon to soup to help make it more filling, and aid in better nutrient absorption.
All Day Energy…
Combining coffee’s ‘buzzy’ effect with coconut oil’s long-term energy boost means that instead of experiencing a jittery ‘high’, followed by a ‘crash’, the pleasant ‘uplifting’ side of coffee is enhanced for much longer.
If you’re dealing with stress and anxiety, coffee may seem like the solution to getting you through the day, however over consumption of coffee (especially on an empty stomach) is incredibly taxing on the adrenal glands, which can contribute to the risk of adrenal fatigue and burnout. Adding coconut oil helps to soften the blow of caffeine, protecting the adrenals and thyroid. Another bonus?: If you decide to consume coconut oil and coffee before working out, you’re likely to be able to do a whole lot more, and feel a little better whilst doing it. Rhonda Patrick helps explain more here:
Because the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil are easily and rapidly transported into the mitochondria, unlike long chain fatty acids, they are immediately used for energy, resulting in a burst of energy and thermogenesis, which, subsequently, increases metabolism. Several animal studies and clinical studies have proven that ingestion of coconut oil increases metabolism and decreases body fat both in animal studies performed on mice, and humans. Rats that were fed a diet consisting of medium chain fatty acids had less subcutaneous fat, a visibly evident decrease in body fat, increased metabolism and increased thermogenesis.2 The energy burst that is produced by medium chain fatty acids is also important for athletic endurance
So we know that consuming coconut oil is good for the body, but it’s also good for the mind , too, especially when mixed into coffee! The combination of caffeine and beneficial saturated fat helps to deliver a very noticeable amount of energy to the brain, which makes sense, as the brain is made of roughly 60% fat, and coffee and caffeine have the ability to cross the blood brain barrier.
Born out of bio hacker Dave Asprey’s experience of drinking Yak Butter tea whilst trekking in Tibet, he subsequently began thoroughly researching the science behind fats and ketosis, and developed his own brand of Bullet Proof coffee (and more recently, Brain Octane oil). The Bullet Proof movement is huge, and promises to help people think faster, and perform better. With the evidence in modern health and wellbeing research showing that high fat diets and ketogenic diets do have the ability to help with things like chronic pain and hormone imbalances, I think it might be worth a try….
Add the coconut oil to a mug, and pour in hot coffee. Stir thoroughly, and sip!
(Start with a tea spoon, and work your way up to a table spoon).
SO, if you’ve got a long essay to write, a presentation to give, a long workout ahead of you, a long time until lunch, or you just want to know what all the fuss is about, try adding coconut oil to your coffee and let mw know how you feel!