In the past, coconut oil has been dismissed due to its saturated fat content. However, it's gaining a new reputation as a way to prevent both heart and weight problems, as well as to boost athletic performance. Coconut oil, extracted from the "white meat" of matured coconut, is essentially the same as coconut milk, although with a higher concentration of fat. [Coconut milk is derived from grating the meat and usually adding water.] Read on to learn more about the athletic benefits of consuming coconut oil.
Coconut oil is a cooking staple in many Southern Asian and South American countries—and has been for centuries. Due to its lack of processing, virgin coconut oil contains a high concentration [more than 50 percent] of a saturated fat called medium-chain fatty acids [MCFAs], which is absorbed much faster than long-chain fatty acids. MCFAs are sent straight into circulation—more like a carbohydrate than a fat—and then to the liver to be quickly oxidized [transformed into metabolites]. This makes coconut oil an extremely efficient source of fuel—perfect for an athlete. Try incorporating coconut oil as part of your pre-workout snack for an added energy boost.
Revs Metabolism and Immune System
Coconut oil is increasingly being viewed as a weight loss product. But if you are trying to gain weight, you don't need to steer clear of it. The oil is calorie-rich [about 117 calories per tablespoon]. Studies have shown that it can raise metabolic rates and help burn fat, while maintaining lean muscle mass. Coconut oil has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, and its lauric acid content promotes a strong immune system—necessities for any performance athlete.
Try the following recipe to incorporate coconut oil into your diet.
Coconut Milk Smoothie
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 Tb. coconut oil, melted
- 2 scoops of protein powder
- 1 whole banana
- 1/4 cup frozen fruit [berries, peaches, etc.]
- [optional] 2 Tb. fresh ground flax seeds
- [optional] 2 Tb. fresh ground nuts [almonds, pecans, etc.]
- [optional] 1 Tb. dry coconut flakes
Place all ingredients except coconut oil in blender and mix. Slowly pour coconut oil into blender while blending. Blend until smooth and serve.
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