Friday, February 07, 2014

The Goodness of Coconut Oil For Triathlete

It is true that coconut has 1001 uses. Everything from the trunk to the leaf has it's usage. Coconut juice, or water from the fruits has been known to be the best electrolytes. I have back in November 2011, wrote about Food That You Should Be Eating and has shared that coconut is one of the food you should eat more often.
No. 5 Eating coconut meat will provide medium chain triglycerides (MCT)
It has been close to two months and I've made the inclusion of virgin coconut oil (VCO) into my daily intake to supplement my diet. Coconut oil has been used traditionally by the Malaysian Indians in Malaysia as food and cosmetic purpose. Used on hair to provide growth and strength, gargled to check on cavities and used in cooking for that extra flavour. In fact, the list of usage of VCO is not exhaustive enough. My draw to VCO is for the MCT or medium chain triglycerides that are readily synthesised by the liver and used as energy as good as energy produced when eating carbs. The draw here is weight for weight, oil carries double (9kcal vs 4kcal) the energy and you can imagine what a spoonful of (top class)oil holds. MCT does not require energy to absorb, utilisation and storage. What this meant is that they are readily available for the body to utilise above other fuel sources, making it ideal compared to conventional (food) fuel that requires conversion to simple sugar or glucose. 
I was introduced to VCO by the same person that introduced me to Chia Seed (Thank you Roland!) and he has substituted his cooking oil with coconut oil. Back about 4 years ago, the pricing of 1liter of coconut oil is about RM70. Which made it twice the price of good olive oil. Compare to olive oil, coconut oil has high smoking point - meaning it can tolerate higher heat before "smoking" or burn. If you been frying with olive oil, you will know what I meant. Burnt oil or oxidised oil by heat treatment make the oil saturated and potentially carcinogenic (cancerous).
VCO Benefits I've Experience
Keeping it to the point and sharing what I do know, these are some benefits that i've seen after consuming VCO the past months.
- Lipid profile. My bodyfat dropped from 10.5% to 9.8% within the past 1 month of monitoring. Granted that I've been exercising daily, my diet did not change much except the inclusion of the coconut oil (up to two spoon or 30ml) everyday. Technically speaking, I should be putting on weight as the extra calories consumed equals to 270kcal everyday. My weight has increased as well, meaning I've been (technically) packing up some muscle mass. Lipid profile includes cholesterol and blood lipid changes as well. In short, it prevents arteries from clogging up.
- Consistent energy. Putting myself through discipline training as part of Ironman triathlon training has required me to keep my energy/fuel level in-check. For the past 8 weeks, the load and intensity on the training has increased. Taking in MCT helps to encourage the body to utilise fats as energy. There was not a moment i felt a dip and my training are limited by the other commitments I have, not fatigue.
- Anti-inflammatory. Joint pain. Strained muscles. They are things of the past. Apart from being well-conditioned, the joints are good and muscles pain doesn't last more than a day. While I had little or no such issues for the longest time, the inclusion of the VCO sort of act as a buffer or insurance against any possible joint issues - this is of course, unless I purposely go out and injury myself.
- Replaces milk and butter. I now drink my coffee or anything that uses milk with VCO. It adds a subtle coconut flavour, that is unnoticeable after a while. If you can't take coconut oil as it is (from the spoon), best to mix with drinks. Coconut oil has low solidifying temperature. Shake some VCO in ice and you get them solidify and you can chew on the oil like candy.
Other Benefits of VCO, as researched
Too many to list actually and some that has captured my attention were:
- Raises metabolism
- Natural moisturiser
- fight bacteria infections
- aid digestions
- Control sugar cravings
- help to increase absorption of calcium and magnesium
The above are just some that has pique my interest to know more about VCO. 
Hope this help as introduction to VCO as supplement in your daily diet. More to come from me with regards to this food. I have 4liters stocked up and I hope this won't create a craze where the oil will be snapped up, and the price increases!
Here is an interesting Carbohydrate Intolerance experiment done by a friend that went without Carb but included VCO in his diet. He lost weight and fat, and in return, obtained more energy. Thanks Sin YC!

Update Nov 28, 2016 : Check this article by Nutri Inspector's Cindy Wilson on the goodness of VCO. She offered a more in-depth and updated write up compared to my 2014 entry. Thanks Cindy!

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