Do you eat low-fat and fat-free foods and shun fat at every opportunity to avoid gaining weight? If so, that may be one of your problems. The belief that eating fat makes you fat is no longer considered accurate. Some fats can actually help you lose excess weight. Adding fat into your diet may be the key in helping you shed spare pounds you’ve been struggling with for years.

Not all fats, however, are alike. Some fats promote weight loss better than others. One fat in particular is gaining a reputation as an effective aid in weight loss and is being recommended for use in the prevention and treatment of obesity. This miracle fat is coconut oil.

At one time coconut oil was criticized for its saturated fat content, but we now know that it is composed of a very special group of saturated fats known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). Research has shown that MCT provide many health benefits, one of which is aiding in weight loss.

What makes MCT different from other fats is the way they are processed and metabolized by the body. MCT are broken down and digested very easily. Unlike other fats, they do not require pancreatic digestive enzymes or bile for digestion. The fat in coconut oil does not circulate in the bloodstream to the degree that other fats do, and it does not contribute to our fat cells. The MCT in coconut oil produce energy, not body fat.

The fact that MCT are used by the body as a source of fuel, rather than being packed away as body fat, provides many health benefits. The most obvious is a boost in energy. This rise in energy stimulates metabolism. Metabolism is shifted into a higher gear. As metabolism increases, the rate at which we burn calories also increases. Therefore, the calories we eat are consumed at a higher rate, leaving fewer to be converted into body fat.

Studies have shown that in normal-weight individuals after a single meal containing MCT, metabolism increases by 48 percent. In obese individuals, metabolism increases by an incredible 65 percent! So the more overweight a person is, the greater the effect coconut oil has on stimulating metabolism and encouraging weight loss.

This metabolic stimulating effect isn’t seen for only an hour or two after eating. Studies have shown that after a single meal containing MCT, metabolism remains elevated for a full 24 hours. So for 24 hours energy level is increased, metabolism is running at a higher pace and calories are burned off at a greater rate. Calories consumed from other foods are even burned off at a higher rate.

There was an interesting study published in the journal Metabolism. Volunteers were given one of three diets – a low-fat diet, a high-fat diet and a high-fat diet consisting of MCT. The study lasted 44 days. At the end of the study, those who received the MCT had 60 percent less body fat then either of the other groups.

Researchers at McGill University have calculated that if all fats in the diet were replaced with an oil that contained MCT, such as coconut oil, a person could lose up to 36 pounds a year. This is without dieting, changing the type of foods eaten or reducing the amount of calories consumed. When combined with a sensible diet, coconut oil can be an effective aid in weight loss.

The benefits of coconut oil aren’t limited to just an increase in energy and loss of excess body fat. Because coconut oil increases metabolism, it has an effect on the entire body. When metabolism is increased, the body functions at a higher level of efficiency: circulation improves, the rate of repair and healing increases, the immune system is raised to a higher level of efficiency and energy levels are increased. There is an overall improvement in health and well-being. Because of this and other reasons, coconut oil is proving to be of benefit in preventing and alleviating many of the symptoms associated with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, liver disease, Crohn’s disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism, to mention just a few.

Bruce Fife, N.D., is the director of the Coconut Research Center (www.coconutresearchcenter.org) and is the author The Coconut Oil Miracle and Eat Fat, Look Thin. Coconut products are available through Minnesota-based Wilderness Family Naturals (www.wildernessfamilynaturals.com). Copyright © 2005 Bruce Fife, N.D.

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