Coconut Oil

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Overall views on nutrition over the past 15 years have grown and changed in many ways. However, one thing that has remained consistent is the concept of “superfoods.”  One superfood that can be overlooked by athletes but is easy to incorporate into a nutrition plan is coconut oil. There are two basic types of coconut oil that can be used for cooking and baking. Virgin coconut oil is taken from the fruit of fresh coconuts using no chemicals, however, refined coconut oil is extracted from dried coconut oil that can be deodorized and bleached.1 It is therefore important for athletes to use virgin coconut oil when baking and cooking.

Why Use Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is high in lauric acid which is a medium-chain triglyceride also known as an MCT. These fatty acids naturally found in coconut oil have various health benefits including boosting endurance, strengthening your heart, and enhancing the immune system. For athletes, the boosted endurance is the most important benefit to analyze when considering adding coconut oil to the diet. Long Chain Fatty acids that are a staple in the American diet are 12-18 carbons long. MCT’s however, have half the carbon links, meaning they can be broken down quicker and turned into energy.2 This sped up metabolic process, means the energy is getting into your body and muscles quicker than other fats. Not only is energy getting into your system sooner, coconut oil also changes the way your body relies on certain energy forms when exercising. In a study from the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, it was found that MCT’s helped lessen a reliance on carbohydrates as a source of energy.3 It also cut the amount of lactate that was produced during exercise, and thus helped athletes perform at both high and medium-intensity exercise for a longer period of time.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats have been under the microscope over the past few years, as new studies have revealed the benefits of consuming them over polyunsaturated fats. When it comes to the heart, saturated fats are necessary to provide it with energy. Recent studies have shown that using MCT’s as therapy for cardiac disease can be beneficial as the heart is often energy deficient.4 Coconut oil contains 13.6 grams of fat, 12 of them saturated. This means that for athletes, who need to consume enough fats to provide a sufficient energy source when training, could benefit from coconut oil.

Coconut Oil Benefits

  • High caloric density, and MCT concentration
  • More energy
  • Faster Fat Loss (Metabolic boost)
  • Improved Endurance

Recipe

Crispy Coconut Waffles with Mango Recipe*

serves 4

prep time: 10 minutes

cook time: 20 minutes

total time: 30 minutes

  • 1 CUP FLOUR
  • 2 TABLESPOONS SUGAR
  • 1 TEASPOON BAKING POWDER
  • 1/2 TEASPOON BAKING SODA
  • PINCH OF SALT
  • 1 CUP COCONUT MILK
  • 3 TABLESPOONS COCONUT OIL, MELTED
  • 1 LARGE EGG
  • MANGOS, SLICED
  • WHIPPED CREAM, IF DESIRED
  • MAPLE SYRUP, IF DESIRED

In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt. In liquid measuring cup, whisk together the melted coconut oil, coconut milk and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until just combined. Let sit while you heat up your waffle iron.

Grease your waffle iron if needed and cook waffles according to waffle iron instructions or until the waffles are golden brown and crispy.

Serve with sliced mangos and cream and syrup, if desired.

*Recipe from Iamafoodblog.com

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References

  1. http://webdietitians.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442477202
  2. http://nutritionreview.org/2013/04/medium-chain-triglycerides-mcts/
  3. http://www.livestrong.com/article/539830-raw-coconut-oil-benefits-for-athletes/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18253821

 

Written by Elijah Keys. You can send him questions and ask advice by emailing: Elijah@islandboost.com.