Common understanding about nutrition changes all the time. Diet fads pop up every day trying to lure people into using a particular new product. But sometimes the old, readily available foods can provide exactly what we need.

Coconut oil, along with other tropical and saturated oils, was been debased as an unhealthy food during the whole low-fat craze. But after years of research into the effects of different types of fatty acids on the body, it is becoming increasingly apparent that organic virgin coconut oil can be a powerful ally in the quest to reach a healthy weight if eaten in the proper amounts.

How to Use Coconut Oil for Weight Loss

Coconut oil is best taken in small amounts throughout the day. Eating one tablespoon about 20 minutes before each meal (assuming you have three meals per day) seems to be the most effective way to get the metabolism-boosting and appetite-suppressing benefits. People who weigh more than 150 lbs can take a bit more, up to two tablespoons before each of your three meals.

You can eat the coconut oil right out of the jar, or melt it by adding it to warm water or herbal tea. A digestion-boosting tea like ginger goes great with the melted coconut oil.

You can also add coconut oil to smoothies to help them make you feel full for longer. If you eat cooked food, you can use coconut oil for frying (follow the heat directions on the jar label) baking, and as a replacement for other types of oil in almost any recipe or preparation.

Coconut oil is especially great with cooked or raw greens, as it helps your body absorbs the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, K, and D more efficiently and adds delicious flavor.

It is important to keep in mind that coconut oil is very calorie-dense, and will only help you lose weight if you replace the calories you are already eating, not add the oil on top of your current diet. Fat contains 9 calories per gram. Factor these additional calories into your overall daily total for the best results.

Why Coconut Oil Supports Weight Loss

Organic virgin coconut oil helps the body lose weight in a variety of ways. It is comprised of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). These are the building blocks of brain, muscle, and heart tissue. Several studies have shown that eating MCFAs can boost fat loss, especially abdominal fat. One study found they could increase energy expenditure by as much as 120 calories per day. MCFAs boost metabolism because they are immediately processed into energy, without being stored in fat cells. They also do not require enzymes from the pancreas to break down, enabling the pancreas to produce insulin more efficiently. When insulin is being efficiently created and moved through the body, the cells receive the glucose (blood sugar) necessary to function. This leads to eating just the amount of food required to function well and have the energy you need to exercise, and can decrease overeating.

MCFAs are appetite suppressants, increasing the feeling of fullness, reducing hunger, and providing lasting energy so less food needs to be eaten at each meal. They also help stabilize blood sugar levels, avoiding the peaks and crashes that lead to eating too much sugar and other diet-sabotaging behaviors.

Lastly, the body needs fatty acids to produce hormones, and balanced hormonal levels are a key factor in attaining and maintaining a healthy weight. MCFAs promote the production of healthy hormones that support digestion, balance stress, anxiety, and energy levels, increase energy, and control the burning of stored fat.

It is important to get coconut oil that is not processed with heat or chemical solvents. These treatments reduce the beneficial properties of the oil and may even make it toxic. It is best to eat only organic, virgin or extra virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil. Bonus points if you get an oil that is Fair Trade certified and rainforest safe. Coconut oil will keep for a long time at room temperature, though it can go rancid after several months if it is frequently exposed to drastic temperature changes (melts and re-hardens every day)

Loosing weigh seems to require a simple formula eat less and exercise more. But what you eat is equally as important as how much you eat. Replacing some of your daily calories with cold-pressed organic virgin coconut oil can go a long way in supporting your weight loss efforts. The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil boost metabolism, decrease appetite, help balance blood sugar levels, provide lasting energy, and support the production of healthy hormones. Adding just a couple tablespoons of coconut oil to your daily regimen before meals, or using it to replace other oils in food preparation, are helpful ways to use this potent food to support your weight loss efforts.