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Eating More of this Fat Can Help Trim Your Waistline

Waistlines Don’t Lie

Waist size is more than just a number or an eye-pleasing figure. It is an excellent indicator of good health. Humans collect fat around their internal organs and these fat pockets are most visible around the waistline.

Visceral fat increases waist size and is the most accurate indicator of the development of certain diseases.

For example, waist size is a more reliable predictor of heart risks than BMI (body mass index). It is also a good indicator of developing insensitivity to insulin which is an excellent way to predict the risk of developing Type II Diabetes later in life.

Waist size is measured by taking the circumference of the area between the rib cage and the navel. For men, sizes above 37 inches qualify as overweight and above 40 inches is classified as obese. Women with waist sizes above 34.6 inches are termed obese and above 31.5 inches they are overweight.

Bad Oil, Good Oil

Coconut oil started its long victimization in 1953 after a study by Dr. Ancel Keys who concluded that the oil is fattening and bad for cardiovascular health.

Over the years, the various national health bodies of most of North America advised limiting the intake of coconut oil due to its high level of saturated fat.

Curiously, no scientific proof has ever been established detailing how foods with lower saturated fatty acids are healthier than those with high saturated fatty acids.

All of the studies critics use against coconut oil were done with partially hydrogenated coconut oil. This modified coconut oil has been shown to contain harmful trans fats. Strangely, trans fats were recommended as replacements for coconut oil in the seventies and eighties.

Virgin coconut oil, which is the unrefined, unbleached coconut oil expressed from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts, does not contain trans fats but rather, it contains high levels of medium-chain triglycerides.

Medium-chain triglycerides are proven to be far healthier than other saturated fats.

Even though recent studies recognize the health benefits of coconut oil in the Asian and Polynesian countries where it is native, American manufacturers largely ignored the oil partly due to the negative press it received but mostly because it is not grown and produced in the country.

Before the World War II, coconut oil was the preferred cooking oil in most kitchens in America. However, the Japanese occupation of the Philippines and the South Pacific Islands meant our supply was off.

Unfortunately, commercial interest swayed public opinion during the war years. By the time the war was over, coconut oil was already a victim of pseudoscience. It was associated with butter and other saturated fats and labeled unhealthy for our consumption.

Fats and Facts

Coconut oil contains a high percentage of medium-chain fatty acids. Unlike long-chain fatty acids, this kind of saturated fat is quite healthy.

Because the molecular lengths of medium-chain fatty acids are shorter than those of long-chain fatty acids, they are easier to break down in the body. In fact, they do not require special enzymes, lipoproteins and carrier molecules to transport them into cells and utilize them.

Therefore, medium-chain fatty acids are less stressful on the digestive system and on the liver. In the liver, these fatty acids are converted to energy rather than stored as fats.

Because medium-chain fatty acids are not stored up as fats, they do not deposit on the walls of the arteries to later cause cardiovascular problems. In addition, they do not collect as visceral fat which increases the waistline and predispose people to diabetes. Rather, medium-chain fatty acids stimulate metabolism, promote fat burning and lead to weight loss.

Different studies have demonstrated the benefits of medium-chain fatty acids and their advantages over long-chain fatty acids. In one study, these shorter fatty acids increased energy use and fat oxidation in the study participants enough to help them lose weight.

Therefore, coconut oil reduces abdominal obesity and waist circumference. It also lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol.

Thyroid and Oils

There has been a sharp rise in the number of patients with thyroid problems over the last two decades. This silent epidemic mirrors the big changes in our diets and the rise of mass production of food. For these, we have industrialization and Big Farm to blame.

While iodine supplements can help boost our thyroid, the underlying cause is usually linked to our diet. For example, some foods are known goitrogens.

Goitrogens block iodine and soon lead to the appearance of goiters. Examples of goitrogens include peanut butter and soybean oil.

Most of the new food sources of unsaturated fatty acids are implicated in the thyroid crisis. These unsaturated fatty acids, which were once thought to be healthier than saturated ones such as coconut oil, are known to be the sleeper cause of a long list of diseases.

Saturated fatty acids such as soybean oil place a lot of oxidative stress on the body. Since these oils turn rancid easily, manufacturers need to refine them thoroughly for them to last longer. The processes involved in refinement turn most of the saturated fats into trans fatty acids.

Trans fatty acids have been shown to damage different tissues in the body including the thyroid gland. They cause hypothyroidism by inhibiting the interconversion of thyroid hormones.

The overall effects of unsaturated oils on the thyroid gland include blocking the secretion of its hormones (thyroxine and triiodothyronine), reducing their distribution in the body and lowering the response of different tissues to these hormones.

Saturated oils, on the other hand, are stable and do not impair thyroid functions. Virgin, unrefined coconut oil, which is the best example of such oils, contains medium-chain triglycerides which are handled differently in the body. It is the healthiest of oils.

So many people who have changed from unsaturated oils to coconut oils have reported marked improvements in their thyroid problems. Some of these people no longer need to take thyroid medications to manage their medical conditions.

Coconut Oil for Cooking

If you want to lose weight naturally and trim your waistline, you should change your cooking oil to coconut oil. Make sure to use virgin coconut oil because RBD (refined, bleached and deodorized) coconut oil, which is commonly sold, has been processed so much that some of the constituents of the oil are altered considerably.

Virgin coconut oil is superior to vegetable oils which are commonly used as cooking oil. Unlike these popular cooking oils, it is stable to high heat and is not damaged when frying.

It is also stable to oxidation which is the reason why coconut oil rarely becomes rancid. It can be kept for as long as two years. This protection is attributed to its high levels of saturated fats.

Another benefit of coconut oil is for nursing mothers. The oil contains lauric acid, a 12-carbon chain derivative of medium-chain fatty acid. Lauric acid is converted to monolaurin in the body. This compound then enters the breast milk. It is also included in some instant formulas.
Monolaurin can help strengthen the immunities of breastfed babies. It also has some antiviral, antibacterial and antiprotozoal properties.

Coconut Oil for a Slimmer You

Unlike long-chain triglycerides, the medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil are shorter (6 – 10 carbons in their chain length). This makes them significantly different from other fatty acids.

Medium-chain triglycerides contribute to weight loss in the following ways:

  • They are minimally stored as fat deposits. Therefore, they do not contribute to the visceral fat deposited around internal organs and visible in people with wide waistlines and central obesity.
  • They promote thermogenesis or fat burning. Medium-chain triglycerides behave more like carbohydrate than fat when it comes to metabolism. They are instantly metabolized to provide energy.
  • They have lower caloric contents than long-chain triglycerides and other fats.
  • They suppress appetite.

There is a growing interest in medium-chain triglycerides especially now as new studies provide proofs of their wide-ranging medical benefits.

However, these saturated fatty acids are being sold as ingredients of nutritional supplements. Instead of officially acknowledging that coconut oil was unjustly demonized, commercial interests would rather sell us small doses of medium-chain fatty acids than let the soybean industry suffer from the importation of this superior tropical oil.

I am a husband and a father constantly searching for ways to improve my own health and the health of those around me. My exercise is crossfit and my diet is paleo (well...mostly!). I own and operate ProgressiveHealth.com.

5 Comments

  1. Dr Prem

    October 16, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Nice article.
    If you want to be healthy then you have to eat a healthy food.

  2. Brad Chase

    October 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Great Point Kelly. Yes, eating too much fat can lead to weight gain from a calorie standpoint. So it is VERY important to watch our portion sizes…sometimes easier said than done :)

  3. Dr Stephen Sinatra

    September 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Great article, Better diet and nutrition could play a big role into giving an individual a better healthy diet plan and lose weight quicker.

  4. myfitnesshut

    September 4, 2012 at 4:30 am

    One mistake people make is eliminating one of the macronutrients, like fats or carbs, out of their diet trying to lose weight. Its important to eat whole, natural foods. Food deprivation never works long-term.

  5. Kelly

    August 30, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Hi there,
    I just thought I would clarify a few points in this article. After reviewing the current research it seems that MCT oils do have an effect on increasing the rate of fat oxidation! Horray! Good news!

    However, I find the title of this article misleading. Eating more of this fat will not help you lose weight. All fats provide 9 calories for every gram you eat (more than either carbohydrate or protein) and if you simply increase your intake of this fat without changing anything else in your diet you will gain weight. If you replace the other saturated fats (like the ones coming from red meat or lard) with this oil it can have some benefit to your health.

    Also, there has been A LOT of research into the positive health effects of eating a diet high in mono and polyunsaturated fats. Below is a link to a 5 minute interview going over some of the most recent research.

    http://www.cochrane.org/sites/default/files/uploads/podcasts/issue7_2011_saturated_fat.mp3

    Thanks for listening, Knowledge is the key to a better life for all of us.

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