You may have heard the buzz about coconut oil for keto and weight loss.
Coconut oil is derived from coconuts and has recently increased in popularity because of the keto diet. It is a staple of most low carb, high fat diets, including, of course, the keto diet. It contains a large amount of easily digested saturated fats that can kick start ketosis.
Not only does coconut oil help keto dieters keep their fat ratio high to trigger ketosis, but it also has numerous health benefits (we will explore them below).
What Makes Virgin Coconut Oil Keto Friendly
The basic premise of the ketogenic diet is to deprive the body of carbs and force it to enter ketosis. This is a metabolic state where the body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. The process is believed to yield numerous health benefits including help with weight loss, stabilized blood sugar levels, and even help with epileptic seizures.
The keto diet aims to restrict carbs to only 20 or 50 grams per day. The goal is to reallocate macronutrients to 70% fat, 25% protein , and 5% carbs.
There are many food groups that are eliminated because of the keto diet because they are too high in calories. Rice in particular is almost entirely abandoned as part of the keto diet. Keto-friendly alternatives such as coconut oil, are preferred, because of their high fat content.
The Truth About Coconut Oil for Keto Diet
It’s no secret that coconut oil is ideal for keto dieters. Let’s break down exactly what makes coconut oil so useful for the keto diet.
The Pros – Benefits of Coconut Oil
Taste of coconut oil – Coconut oil does not have the strong taste or smell of coconut flesh. It is used to prepare all kinds of delicacies around the world.
It’s vegan friendly – Unlike most sources of high fat food, coconut oil is entirely derived from plants. This makes it perfect for consumption for people who opt out of animal products and meats.
It Retains Nutritional Content in Heat – A major reason why coconut oil is ideal for keto is because it retains its nutritional content when subjected to extremely high temperatures. This makes coconut oil ideal for frying and sautéing. This is a primary reason why keto dieters use coconut oil.
It is a Source of MCTs – Another reason why coconut oil is believed to be great for our health is because it contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). The metabolic process for these types of fats is different from long chain triglycerides (LCT) found in most foods.
The fatty acid chain length in MCTs reaches a maximum of 12 carbon atoms. Fats in coconut oil include caprylic acid, capric acid, and lauric acid. As such, MCTs are great for consumption because they make us feel more satiated and they prevent fat from being stored in the body.
High Calorie Content – Coconut oil is the lowest calorie oil to cook food with. It has less than 117 calories per tablespoon of coconut oil. Unfortunately, it is still very high in calories, especially when compared to vegetable oil with 125 calories per tablespoon and butter with 100 calories per tablespoon. This means you will have to be conservative when using coconut oil for cooking.
High In Saturated Fat – Coconut oil has high reservoirs of saturated content at around 80 to 90%. This makes it solid at room temperature. It is commonly believed that saturated fats are not good for our health and can increase our bad cholesterol levels (LDL), which can increase our risk of heart health problems, storks, and disease.
Low MCT Amount – The amount of MCT in coconut oil is very low, not to mention misleading labels and advertisements from manufacturers that exaggerate the cardiovascular health benefits of MCT.
In other words, coconut oil for keto is a great solution if you are seeking a low calorie cooking oil. However, it can easily spike your calorie levels if you’re not careful. We strongly suggest portioning your foods carefully when cooking with coconut oil.
Lauric Acid is Great Great for Ketone Body Production
A study published in the Journal of Oleo Science found that lauric acid plays a role in increasing the total ketone body concentration. Coconut oil has high amounts of lauric acid that can support ketosis and the production of ketones. It naturally contains 42% lauric acid, 7% caprylic acid, and 5% capric acid.
Why MCTs Are Useful in Ketosis
So what makes MCTs so useful?
Let’s take a look at how the body processes long chain fat and the overall metabolic pathway.
The first step is for the body to break down the triglycerides into free fatty acids and glycerol, and transport them across the bloodstream to the liver for further processing. The liver repackages them into fats for use with other tissues.
These are a lot of steps to process long-chain fat! It involves the venous system, lymphatic system, liver, energy, and time. Individuals with low insulin will need high levels of carnitine to ferry the fatty acids into the cells where they can burn.
There are several potential problems that can be encountered, such as low cholesterol, bad liver, or difficulty making carnitine.
However, the body processes medium chain triglycerides a lot differently.
Our small intestine absorbs MCTs more effectively than long chain fats because the lipases responsible for digesting triglycerides are more efficient with MCT than long chain triglycerides.
The best part is that the medium chain fatty acids are transported directly through the bloodstream to the liver. In other words, we have just bypassed the lymphatic system altogether. Moreover, MCTs don’t need access to carnitine once they make it to MCTs. They are burned before other fatty fuels.
All of this provides the body with a greater source of energy and an easier pathway for losing weight. This is what we wanted from ketosis after all!
Coconut Oil Can Increase Ketone Production
Without incorporating MCTs into our diet, it can take anywhere from three to five days for a person to enter ketosis on a typical low carb high fat diet.
However, if you add MCT oil into the picture – such as coconut oil – you could easily achieve ketosis in just 24 hours! However, we should understand that the keto diet is unique to every person. What works for one person, may not work for you. This is why you should experiment with coconut oil and MCTs.
In any case, a general rule of thumb is to keep your consumption of carbohydrates to less than 50 grams per day. You can increase or decrease carbs based on your results. We recommend using urine to measure ketone body production with the help of urine tests. Here’s an article that takes a detailed look at how you can measure ketone bodies in urine.
Take care not to eat too much protein because the macronutrient has a tendency to break down into glucose – which defeats the purpose of the keto diet.
The consumption of MCT in coconut oil will help you get into ketosis in a relatively short period of time.
What Ketosis Feels Like
Once you have entered ketosis – courtesy of coconut oil – your body will stop storing carbs as glycogen. You will lose a few pounds of water right away – you’ll notice the weighing scale sliding down. It is common to feel thirsty in ketosis because the body will crave salts that are released as urine.
Many people on the keto diet notice their skin to be more clearer and they feel less puffy.
There are, of course, a few side effects of entering the keto diet. The first of these is a general sense of weakness and lower energy levels because you are depriving the body of its primary source of fuel. It is also possible to experience constipation, diarrhea, muscle cramps, and rashes.These symptoms are very similar to a hangover because the body experiences a loss of electrolytes and water. You may also notice a fruity and metallic accent to your breath because of ketone production.
Experts believe that you can manage some of the side effects of keto with the help of MCTs and coconut oil. MCTs are especially useful for managing keto flu.
So there you have it, a low down on the beneficial role of coconut oil for keto and why it is useful for weight loss. Keep in mind that coconut oil has about 50% of MCT and is best used as a cooking oil. Besides metabolic optimization, you may also notice your skin start to glow and become much clearer during ketosis. Now this is a win-win in our book!
Let us know if you use coconut oil for keto and if it helped you achieve your fitness goals.