The majority of individuals have attempted to lose weight at various points, often with varying degrees of success. While many manufacturers hawk a range of supplements as weight loss panaceas, coconut oil stands out as a traditional food with scientific evidence to back up its claims as a bona fide aid in burning fat.
Coconuts offer a very different nutritional profile to other fruits. The University College of Los Angeles note how botanists do not actually classify coconuts as fruit, instead labelling them as drupes. The high content of saturated fats represents a major difference between coconuts and other plants; three quarters of these fats come in the form of the medium chain fatty acids.
Medium Chain Fats
Dr. Bruce Fife points to the medium chain fats as the key to coconut oil's effect on weight loss. So-called because their backbone numbers between eight and 14 carbons, these compounds have a number of positive effects in the human body. Fife notes that they can help to clear fungal infection, improve cardiovascular health and improve the rate of fat burning.
The differences in the way the body processes medium chain fats lies in at the heart of their fat-burning effect. Dr Fife explains that, whereas most fats diffuse from the intestines into the lymphatic system before slowly reaching the circulation, medium chain fats travel directly via the portal vein from the gut to the liver. The liver then can oxidize them immediately.
In 2003, scientists based in Canada investigated the fat-burning effects of medium chain fats. They divided volunteers into two group, providing them with similar diets except for the level of medium chain fats consumed. After 27 days, they measured the level of fat oxidation and the metabolic rate in both groups; their results, published in the "International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders," showed that the group consuming the medium chain fats burned more fat and 6 percent more overall energy than controls.
The Canadian experiment used high doses of medium chain fats, just under 45 grams per day in those consuming around 2,000 calories per day. With this in mind, a concentrated medium chain fatty acid supplement may not deliver the same results. These products typically offers 1,000 milligrams, or 1 gram, of medium chain fats per capsule.
- Pubmed.gov; "Medium-chain triglycerides increases fat oxidation"; Dr St Onge et al; 2003.
- UCLA: Coconut, Plant of Many Uses
- "The Coconut Oil Miracle"; Dr Bruce Fife; 2004