Get (More) Coconut Oil In Your Life!
This is likely not the first time you've encountered someone enthusiastically recommending coconut oil for one reason or another. Coconut oil has blown up in popularity in the past few years and it seems to be taking up more and more shelf space in Whole Foods every month (always a reliable measure of a food's popularity). This is for good reason too, coconut oil is among the best things you could ever hope to put into or onto your body. Any intelligently designed diet and lifestyle will include a LOT of coconut oil, and that's why we've made if the subject of this latest Synchro Life Design.
Really though, the list of uses and benefits speaks for itself. These first two points are a bit in-depth, but bear with me. Understanding and incorporating this information takes coconut oil from amazing to potentially life-changing.
1. Perfect Fuel For The Body - If you're looking for stable, vibrant energy and high performance from your body, you need a "fuel" source that provides quality energy steadily over hours. This is where coconut oil is second to none.
Coconut oil is comprised largely of a specific type of fat called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT's). About 2/3 of coconut oil by weight, MCT's are unique among fats in that they are used very efficiently by the body as an energy source and rarely get stored in fat cells. Unlike other fats, MCT's are able to move from the GI tract to bloodstream without having to undergo an initial breakdown process by enzymes in the gut. Once in the bloodstream, MCT's are steadily broken down by enzymes into free fatty acids that can enter into the metabolic pathway that burns fat for energy (that pathway is called ketogenesis).
What makes coconut oil such a perfect fuel, in my opinion, is that when MCT's are used for energy it happens very gradually over the course of hours. This is in contrast to the way in which your body uses carbohydrates for fuel (the body's usual primary fuel source). Carbohydrates are digested quickly and enter the bloodstream as sugar over a relatively shorter span. This creates distinct periods after eating when your body has an excess of energy available, followed by periods where blood sugar drops; taking metabolic activity, your mood, your energy levels and your performance with it. Sound familiar?
Using carbohydrate as your fuel source traps you in a vicious cycle of needing to eat to keep your blood sugar (and energy levels, mood and performance) stable. The reality is this almost impossible to execute perfectly and fueling with carbs will inevitably be harder on your metabolism. If you consistently deal with low energy levels through parts of the day...a switch to coconut oil as your breakfast and mid-day snacks might be a big step in remedying that. (see the recipes at the bottom of the page)
This really requires a larger discussion about energy metabolism (we'll cover this in Synchro Life Design posts later this month). For now we'll leave it at this: If your goal is to feel vibrant and energized throughout the whole day, stable energy sources are preferable to more cyclical ones. Easily digested fats like the MCT's that are abundant in coconut oil are the best way I know of to achieve this.
What I haven't even mentioned yet is the potential effect on body composition. If you're using a fat-based fuel source that gets used efficiently for energy and doesn't generally get stored as fat (i.e. coconut oil), you're essentially "training" your metabolism to burn fat more efficiently. Guess what that means? Fat stored in fat cells is used more efficiently too and it is a lot easier to cut body fat if that is a goal you're working on.
2. Perfect Fuel For The Brain - Did you know your brain consumes about 20% of your resting calories in a normal day? It's true. Since your brain is using a large portion of the food that you put in your body, the types of foods you eat will have a big impact on your cognitive performance. In general, what's good for the body is good for the brain, and coconut oil is no exception. In the same way having your body burn fat for energy produces more stable energy and performance, the same is true for the brain.
What makes coconut oil stand out as a particularly exceptional brain fuel is that MCT's can be used by the brain, where other fats can not. The blood in the brain is separated from the rest of the body's blood by the blood-brain barrier, a membrane through which only some molecules can pass. Most fats are too large and cannot pass through this membrane, whereas MCT's can pass through to be used by the brain for fuel.
Because of this unique ability of MCT's to be used as a fuel source for the brain, coconut oil has been correlated with enhanced cognitive function and has even been used (with great success) to treat Alzheimer's disease.
3. The World's Best Cooking Oil - As I covered in Synchro Life Design #5, there is a serious danger in cooking some oils that way too few people are aware of. Most oils (especially vegetable oils) oxidize at temperatures commonly used for cooking. When this happens the fats that make up the oil become damaged and the result is a toxic, heavily-oxidizing oil that is now in your meal.
Coconut oil on the other hand, is highly resistant to oxidation. It is the only oil I consider it safe to cook with. Fortunately, it also has a very light, neutral flavor that works in any dish.
4. Toxin-Free Skin Moisturizer - It's unfortunate that even high-end, organic skin products inevitably contain some chemical ingredient that is undesirable to put on your body, especially on a regular basis. You have to consider than putting something on your skin also means putting it in your skin and thus into your body. Over the years, several ingredients that have been common in skin products (most notably plasticizers) have been found to cause adverse effects when used consistently, including hormone disruption.
It may be the case that every ingredient in your skin lotion is completely benign. But do you really want to take that risk and find out 10 years down the road some ingredient in your "organic" skin product is actually cancer-causing? I certainly don't.
Beyond the reasons to switch from conventional lotions (which should be enough...), coconut oil is also a superior skin moisturizer in my opinion. Most lotions contain a certain percentage of water in them, and while they will initially moisturize but allow skin to dry out again once that water evaporates. Coconut oil legitimately moisturizes skin. It is a bit oily for a few minutes after application, but quickly absorbs deep into your skin, healing deeper layers of "the largest organ in your body" (i.e. skin). The result is healthy, toxin-free, glowing skin.
For the same reasons, coconut oil can also be used in place of conditioner.
To Be Continued...
This list could be expanded ad-infinitum. I've found websites that list up to 333 (!) uses for coconut oil. Clearly there's something to this stuff. The four listed above are the uses for coconut oil most likely to have a huge impact on your life and move you that much closer to living the most vibrant, highest-performing life you're capable of.
What I will expand on in upcoming Synchro Life Design articles is the concept of pushing the body and metabolism to burn fat for energy (preferentially over carbohydrates). This is a slightly more complicated topic that certainly deserves it's own article. It's a bedrock element of what we consider to be the optimal way of fueling and nourishing oneself. Stay tuned...
For a couple awesome recipes using coconut oil, check the Synchro recipes page. Don't miss the recipe video for Synchro dessert mousse!
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