Coconut oil has a great reputation. Everyone seems to be obsessed with this stuff, especially when it comes to health. You might have even heard that it fights belly fat.
There’s some merit to this claim. But before you slather every meal in coconut oil, take a look at the science. It’s the farthest thing from a miracle cure!
How Coconut Oil Combats Belly Fat
1. Medium-Chain Fatty Acids
Coconut oil is one of the richest sources of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). They’re not degraded and stored like most fats. Instead, MCFAs are used for energy, so they won’t contribute to a growing belly.1
Digesting coconut oil takes a lot of work – in a good way! The process needs lots of energy, so fat is burned to provide it. This is called thermogenesis, and it’s great news for banishing belly fat.4
Low-to-moderate intake is key. According to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1 to 2 tablespoons daily can boost thermogenesis by 5%, making it an excellent aid for metabolism.5
What’s The Catch?
There are many sides to coconut oil. Despite the “good” MCFA’s, 92% of the fat in coconut oil is actually saturated. Yes, that’s the “bad” fat linked to weight gain and obesity. You can also find it in butter, lard, and various foods.6 7
It’s also not the best choice for people who have heart disease or are at high risk. The saturated fat increases “bad” LDL cholesterol, a factor linked to heart disease. The American Heart Association even released a warning in 2017 about coconut oil.10
The bottom line? If you’re not at risk for heart disease, coconut oil is safe. Just be sure to limit saturated fats in other parts of your diet. Otherwise, for a person at risk, coconut oil should be avoided.
Other Ways To Combat Belly Fat
Coconut oil does not work alone. It’s just one part of a multi-faceted wellness routine. To help the body burn fat, adopt these healthy habits.
1. Avoid Saturated And Trans Fats
Whether or not you eat coconut oil, limit or skip saturated fats. They’ll only encourage weight gain and a growing waistline.11
Ditch the trans fats, too. Crackers, cookies, snacks, and fried foods are the richest sources. These fats are so toxic that many countries are trying to ban them from food. Weight gain, heart disease, and cancer are just some of the conditions linked to them.12 13
2. Do Cardio
Nothing burns fat like physical activity. It’s more demanding than resting, so the body burns fat for energy. All it takes is 30 minutes 5 days a week. You don’t need to run a marathon, though. Walking, dancing, and swimming all count as cardio.14
3. Lift Weights
Strength training is also vital. Muscle burns more energy than fat, even if you aren’t moving. This will do wonders for metabolism and your belly.15
To be safe, ask your doctor if it’s fine to eat coconut oil. She can let you know how much is safe for your health status.
|↑1, ↑6||Amarasiri, W. A. L. D., and A. S. Dissanayake. “Coconut fats.” (2006).|
|↑2||St-Onge, Marie-Pierre, Aubrey Bosarge, Laura Lee T. Goree, and Betty Darnell. “Medium chain triglyceride oil consumption as part of a weight loss diet does not lead to an adverse metabolic profile when compared to olive oil.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 27, no. 5 (2008): 547-552.|
|↑3||McCarty, Mark F., and James J. DiNicolantonio. “Lauric acid-rich medium-chain triglycerides can substitute for other oils in cooking applications and may have limited pathogenicity.” Open heart 3, no. 2 (2016): e000467.|
|↑4||Takeuchi, Hiroyuki, Seiji Sekine, Keiichi Kojima, and Toshiaki Aoyama. “The application of medium-chain fatty acids: edible oil with a suppressing effect on body fat accumulation.” Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition 17, no. S1 (2008): 320-323.|
|↑5||Dulloo, A. G., M. Fathi, N. Mensi, and L. Girardier. “Twenty-four-hour energy expenditure and urinary catecholamines of humans consuming low-to-moderate amounts of medium-chain triglycerides: a dose-response study in a human respiratory chamber.” European journal of clinical nutrition 50, no. 3 (1996): 152-158.|
|↑7, ↑11||Casas-Agustench, Patricia, Donna K. Arnett, Caren E. Smith, Chao-Qiang Lai, Laurence D. Parnell, Ingrid B. Borecki, Alexis C. Frazier-Wood et al. “Saturated fat intake modulates the association between an obesity genetic risk score and body mass index in two US populations.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 114, no. 12 (2014): 1954-1966.|
|↑8||Basic Report: 04047, Oil, coconut. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑9||The Skinny on Fats. American Heart Association.|
|↑10||Advisory: Replacing saturated fat with healthier fat could lower cardiovascular risks. American Heart Association.|
|↑12||Ballesteros-Vasquez, M. N., L. S. Valenzuela-Calvillo, E. Artalejo-Ochoa, and A. E. Robles-Sardin. “Trans fatty acids: consumption effect on human health and regulation challenges.” Nutricion hospitalaria 27, no. 1 (2012): 54-64.|
|↑13||Dietary Fats. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑14||Recommendations for Physical Activity. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|
|↑15||Muscle cells vs. fat cells. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|