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Coconut Oil Benefits For Athletes

by Carmen Grange

“a diet containing moderate to low levels of saturated fats actually may induce quite a few benefits: particularly, coconut oil.”

     In the fitness industry, coconut oil is used to induce a wide variety of health benefits, but it hasn’t caught on so much in “the real world”. A possible reason for the lag between the fitness industry and the rest of world is the notion that saturated fats are bad for your health. Coconut oil is mainly made up of saturated fats after all (approximately 85%). So, what do athletes and fitness enthusiasts know (or think they know) that the rest of the world doesn’t?

Well, first thing’s first: coconut oil is mainly saturated fat. Saturated fats use to be referred to as “bad” fats because they were thought to increase the risk for heart disease. However, much research has been done to disprove this notion. In fact, saturated fats are sort of an in-between fat. Meaning, they aren’t as healthy as unsaturated fats, but they certainly aren’t as unhealthy as trans fats. They’re somewhere in the middle. A diet high in saturated fats will likely increase LDL (bad cholesterol), which will then increase heart disease risk. But, a diet containing moderate to low levels of saturated fats actually may induce quite a few benefits: particularly, coconut oil.

coconut oil

So, why coconut oil? Coconut oil elicits a unique effect allowing it to aid in weight loss, called thermogenesis. Thermogenesis, simply put, is a production of heat. Increases in heat production are accompanied by increases in calories burned. The concept is simple: the more calories you burn in relation to the amount of calories consumed, the more weight you lose.

Coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT). The name refers to the chemical structure of the carbon atoms, and MCTs are a high energy fuel that helps to reduce body fat and retain muscle. MCTs allow for body fat reduction because they are metabolized differently than long-chain fatty acids. They are stored less efficiently than other fats, which means that they aren’t given the opportunity to sit in the cells to create more fat as a result of unused energy. They are sent from the digestive tract directly to the liver to do one of two things: (a) form ketones, or (b) used for immediate energy. Ketones are a high energy source that’s used to fuel the brain. Our bodies can produce ketones during periods of starvation or fasting, and in the presence of MCTs. Coconut oil can elicit this production of ketones to push the body into a state of ketosis where it uses fats for fuel instead of the typical energy source, carbohydrate. Ketosis is often associated with a reduced appetite as fats take longer to digest, leaving you feeling less hungry in between meals while stabilizing glucose. As a result of glucose stabilization, energy levels will be higher since the body will likely not experience sudden decreases in insulin. Ketosis is a healthy way to lose weight while maintaining muscle.

Benefits of Coconut Oil

  • Natural Energy Booster
  • Aids in body fat reduction
  • helps maintain muscle mass
  • stabilizes glucose
  • prolongs feelings of fullness
  • reduces appetite
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