Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Coconut Diet

There is no one magic food that is going to suddenly cause all of your health problems to disappear and fat to start melting away.  It's just not that easy, sorry.  However, there are certain foods that will undoubtedly help you in your quest to become healthy, strong and vibrant if used in conjuction with a healthy primal diet. Coconut oil is one of these foods that might be the missing link to pushing your health-seeking quest to the next level.

I am currently reading The Coconut Diet, by Cherie Calbom. "The SECRET INGREDIENT That Helps You LOSE WEIGHT While You Eat Your Favorite Foods."

At first glance... gimmick. The marketing cover sounds like a fad diet right in line with the twinkie diet! However, I was browsing the isles at Borders looking for an interesting and educational read on coconut oil when I spotted this book.  I had been using coconut oil here and there for a little over a year and was re-intrigued by a client to give it a real go to make it a staple in my diet.  Reluctantly, I picked it up and paid my $14.99 in hopes of expanding my knowledge of this controversial saturated fat.

I was pleasantly justified in my purchase after only a few short chapters.  Although most of the information that Calbom gives falls nicely in line with everything that I teach to my clients regarding insulin regulation, I did pick up some specifics about coconut oil and some tasty recipes that I'll share with you.  Coconut oil has many pros that will hopefully convince you to start adding it to your daily nutrition plan including metabolism boosting power, anti-cancer effects, antiseptic effects (think immune system on steroids) and a stability when cooking at high temperature that most oils do not have.  I think the most relevant benefit that most people will be interested in is the weight loss catalyst that coconut oil can serve as.

Thyroid Health: Your thyroid is your body's metabolic thermostat.  It produces the hormones that are responsible for normal operations in our cells, tissues and organs... particularly the operations that determine how well our body metabolizes food.  Laymens explanation: How efficiently and quickly our body processes food and converts it to energy to be used instead of storing it as fat.  Over 13 million people have under-active thyroids.  This is the primary reason that some people might not be able to lose weight efficiently even while following the strictest of primal diets.  The book states a dozen other conditions that poor thyroid function is said to have a part in including high cholesterol, fibromyalgia and even PMS, but what we really need to know is that we want our thyroid functioning properly for many health reasons and to kick start that fat-burning engine.  Coconut oil and the properties of MCT's which we will cover below have a direct thyroid stimulating effect. 

Stimulate your thyroid => improved metabolism => weight loss.

* Calbom recommends taking your resting body temperature for 4 consecutive mornings to see if you could possibly have an under-active thyroid.  If you're below the normal range of 97.6-98.2, you might be at risk.

Saturated Fat.  We've all been taught over and over that saturated fat is bad.  We've been under-educated!  Saturated fats fall into 3 categories, short-chain, medium-chain, or long-chain fatty acids.  Coconut oil boasts the unique composition of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT's), unlike most other oils that are comprised of long-chain fatty acids (LCT's.)   MCT's have the ability to be rapidly absorbed, transported directly to our liver and almost immediately converted into energy.  LCT's must be transported through the entire body before they reach the liver.  This slow metabolism of LCT's results in our body having a much easier time storing these suckers as fat.  Not ideal.  MCT's on the other hand produce a thermogenic response in the body.  The difference between these two forms of saturated fat can be related to the difference between premium and unleaded fuel.  Do you want the fuel you ingest to help your body run like a 1972 El Camino or a 2011 Diablo?


The Other Mother. Coconut Oil is comprised of 40% Lauric Acid, a highly anti-viral component that helps to destroy bacteria, fungus and viruses.  We won't get into the science here but basically lauric acid is so powerful that it is present in breast milk to protect infants from viral and bacterial infections.  There is no other substance that lauric acid is naturally found in other than mother's milk and coconut oil. 

Lastly, coconut oil does not turn rancid like most all other oils at high temperatures, making it a great cooking agent.  Coconut oil can be used in place of olive oil in all of your cooking endeavors and will yield a great tasting salmon or filet.  I am replacing most of my fats with coconut oil over the next few weeks and will report back with energy levels and any body composition changes as I just started a strict Paleo Zone Rx for myself this week after being 80/20 unweighed and unmeasured Paleo for the last year.  I would like to challenge everyone else to do the same and post back with thoughts, experiences and comments.





2 comments:

  1. Jen,
    I was excited to see your post on Coconut Oil! As you know, I too, have used it for the past several years, but could never bring myself to take the 3T/day that’s recommended. I couldn’t get past eating that much fat a day, especially from saturated fat. Well, a few things converged, and I decided to give it a shot. After all, I’ve tried EVERYTHING else…what was the difference if it didn’t work and I gained a few pounds?

    First, I must preface that maintaining my weight has always been a struggle for me. Like many people, over the past 15 years, I have lost and gained weight many times. What makes me a little different, though, is that I’m neurotic when it comes to being on a program. I track everything. I know precisely what I ate, the calorie count, ratios, what workout program I did, and what my weight was, 8 years and 6 months ago. So, when I started a new program, September 13, 2010, that incorporated Coconut, I did the exact same thing.

    As history has shown, at least in the last 5 years or so, my weight loss averages about a half pound per week…frustrating! So, I didn’t expect this to be any different, though, like the start of any program, I am always hopeful. The program was to go from September 13 – November 13 (today…coincidentally) and my goal was to lose 6 pounds.

    Here’s basically what happened…
    From Sept 13 - 24, instead of eating the pure coconut oil, I was mostly eating the coconut cream, which is the coconut meat instead of the pure extracted oil from the meat. I did this because I didn’t think it would make a difference and I liked the taste MUCH better. It was like dessert for me and I’m a big dessert fan. I didn’t lose any weight and felt deprived. I found myself snacking on nuts more than I should have. Deprivation was a familiar feeling for me though when I was on a strict diet. How can you avoid it, right? Well, I got frustrated and decided to switch out the coconut cream for the coconut oil and got rid of all the nuts in the house. That happened on Saturday, Sept 25. On the 26th, I had lost 0.4 pounds. On the 27th, I lost 1 whole pound. On the 28th, another 0.8. After one week, I had lost 4.2 pounds…unheard of for me! The next week, I lost another 2.2 pounds. I couldn’t believe it! One could say that because I cut out the nuts, that that was the difference, but because I’ve tracked everything I’ve ever done, I know that’s not the case, as I’ve eliminated nuts from my diet in the past. Plus, the biggest victory for me was that I no longer felt deprived. I can’t emphasize that enough. The feeling of being ‘satisfied’ when you are dieting is irreplaceable. I’ve never felt that before. It’s given me the hope that this weight gain/weight loss cycle doesn’t have to be the status quo. We will see…the jury is still out on that one.

    As for the numbers and more details…see my second post.

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  2. PART 2:
    So, here are the results, since today is the last day of my official program:
    I lost 11.4 pounds (that’s in 7 weeks, as of the date I switched out the coconut cream to the coconut oil)
    Almost 8 of those pounds, I lost in the first 4 weeks. Now, I’ve just been losing about 1 pound a week. I’m unsure at this point, how much more weight I want to lose, if any.
    I’ve lost 10 inches over my body: arm, chest, waist, hips, butt, thigh, calf
    I also monitored all my workouts. My strength increased and cardiovascular improved.

    Other important things to note:
    I don’t think most people can just add coconut oil to their diet and expect to lose weight. You still have to have a calorie deficit. I ate low calorie, but like I said, the coconut oil allowed me to eat low calorie and not feel deprived. It kept me from snacking and made me feel satiated throughout the day.
    I worked out 6-7 days per week (3 days Crossfit, 1-2 Gym workouts, 1-2 Yoga classes)
    For these 9 weeks, I only deviated from my meal plan twice, and that was VERY minimally. I ate out at a restaurant and monitored my portions. I had 3 bites of dessert each time.
    Throughout the 9 weeks, I had a total of 4 alcoholic drinks.
    I only at whole foods, that were mostly organic: oatmeal, greek yogurt, strawberries, pears, apples, eggs, Ezekial English Muffins, Chicken, Fish, Beef, Sweet Potatoes, quinoa, broccoli, spinach, various lettuces, peppers, cucumbers, other veggies, dark chocolate (1sq/day) and of course coconut oil. I also made a salad dressing with either balsamic vinegar or coconut vinegar.
    For those of you interested in the ratios, my protein was around 25% and my carbs and fat were split fairly equally.

    You may be looking at this, and say, of course you’d lose weight…it’s a strict diet. The coconut oil doesn’t have anything to do with it. But, I’ve done this exact same program before, minus the coconut oil and averaged ½ pound per week. I’m absolutely convinced the coconut oil has made the difference. It’s important to note however that the quality of coconut oil you get is of vast importance. It must be virgin, organic, unbleached, unrefined, and not deodorized. If not, you might as well just eat trans fats. My sister got an inferior coconut oil because she ran out and immediately noticed a difference. The weight she had lost she gained back. When she got the good stuff back in, she started losing weight again.

    I’m very open to any questions about this or providing more information about the program I was on, as there are other benefits I have noticed outside of weight loss. So if you see me in the box, don’t hesitate to come up to me and ask!

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