UPDATE 12/28/12: Since I published this post in October, I have received countless emails, comments, and messages about coconut oil and weight loss and how it is or is not working for them. I LOVE hearing from you, however, I do want to stress the importance of this. Please, please, please do not think that this post is telling you that if you consume a bunch of coconut oil, you will lose weight. There is no magic bullet for weight loss. We are all different. Each and every one of us is unique and what works for one person may not work for someone else. There are also A LOT of things that factor into weight loss — it’s not just as easy as eating coconut oil. The only reason I wrote this post is because I wanted to share my personal experience with all of you, since I was already documenting my healing journey. I can’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. I am not a medical doctor. If you are interested in weight loss, I’d recommend speaking with your doctor, a naturopath, or a nutritional therapist first, before making any changes to your diet. I only upped my intake of coconut oil after speaking with my medical doctor, my nautropath, AND my nutritional therapist, and have been operating under the care of all three ever since.
I initially started this post to be a focus on how coconut oil can help improve thyroid function and aid in weight loss, but as I started writing, it turned into more of a Let’s Get Personal post. So, for the sake of not letting this post get too long, I am going to discuss my personal experience with how coconut oil has helped me, and then soon, I will share a more scientific post about how coconut oil helps the thyroid and weight loss.
NOTE: Due to the FDA and FTC laws on health claims, I need to make this very clear. None of the information in this post is to be construed as medical advice. I am not a doctor or certified medical practitioner of any sort. I am simply sharing the success that I have had with adding coconut oil to my diet. Every person is different and you should always consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, supplements, or exercise routine. For a full disclaimer, please read my Terms and Conditions. The following post is ALL my own, personal experience.
I’m a Nut for the Coconut
You all know that I have a major love affair with coconut oil. I have written about it many times and it is a staple in my kitchen. I use lots of it daily. If you want to read some of my past posts, check these out:
- Coconut Oil Health Benefits: Why is it so Wonderful?
- 52 Uses for Coconut Oil – The Simple, The Strange, and The Downright Odd!
- 122 Uses for Coconut Oil – Even More of the Simple, the Strange, and the Downright Odd
- Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s – New and Exciting Research
- Coconut Oil for Healthy, Happy Pets – Why it’s Good and How to Use (it’s not just good for us, it’s good for our pet friends too!)
For years, I have read, and been told, that coconut oil can help improve thyroid function and also help the body shed weight. I think that these two things go hand-in-hand, because typically if you have a low-functioning thyroid, you will also find it incredibly hard to lose weight. If you are hyperthyroid, you usually have the opposite problem (too much weight loss), so for the sake of this article, I will just be focusing on hypothyroid issues.
Coconut’s Role in My Healing Journey
As some of you know, this summer (on August 1st), I embarked on a healing journey. I finally got to a place in my life where I felt that I could handle taking on the health problems that I had been ignoring. I won’t go into a lot of detail about my healing journey in this post, so if you want to know more, I do encourage you to read my Let’s Get Personal Series. I will be talking about thyroid issues, hormone issues, adrenal issues, and blood sugar issues.
When I first started on this journey, the main dysfunction that I wanted to address was my low-functioning thyroid. Turns out, I actually have an autoimmune disease – Hashimoto’s – rather than just being hypothyroid. So, for me, we have to focus on the immune system first and foremost. I was diagnosed as hypothyroid about 6 years ago. I look back and wish I had taken the extra tests at that time. I am curious to know if I was autoimmune this whole time. For the most part, I have not had many of the symptoms of low thyroid function, up until about a year ago. Maybe it was because I was not as in tune with my body as I thought I was. Or, maybe it was because I was in tune with my body and I was just in denial. Whatever the reason, I had just resolved that I would take my T4 medication and that was that. But, I finally realized that I owed it to my present self, and my future self, to figure out what was going on with my body and do everything in my power to fix it.
Now that I am a couple months into the journey, I can look back and see that I did have many more symptoms of low-functioning thyroid and adrenal issues that I ever realized. Here are some of the symptoms that I have noticed over the last 6 years:
- Slow, steady weight gain, despite eating a real food diet and exercising regularly
- Inability to lose weight, even when I would try
- Hair loss
- Unstable moods and emotions
- Brain fog
Now, I have always eaten coconut oil. Really, I have eaten coconut oil for as long as I can remember It is one of my primary cooking oils and I use it daily. I never really took it medicinally, I just relied on whatever I was getting from my meals. In total, I was probably getting 2-4 tablespoons of coconut oil per day. With that amount, I was not experiencing increased thyroid function or weight loss.
Now, please note that I am not obsessed about being the “perfect size”, nor am I focused on being skinny. I just want to lose the excess weight (60+ pounds) that I have put on over the last 6-8 years and get back down to a size where I can once again feel healthy and comfortable in my skin. It is a well known fact that excess weight is a burden on the body. It is hard not only on our bones, joints, and ligaments, it is also hard on our internal organs, cardiovascular system, blood sugar system, etc. So, my focus is not to be skinny. My focus is to be healthy. My goal weight is 160-170 pounds. That is where I feel healthy and it fits my 5’10″ frame.
There. I said it. I just confessed to the world how much I weigh (you all can do the math).
I am now officially mortified.
Moving on ….
So, over the last 6-8 years, I put on a total of 67 pounds. They just kind of crept on, and then one day I looked at the scale and said “WHOA!”. I reached my heaviest weight about a year and a half ago, and over the course of the last couple years, I have lost around 15 pounds. Not a lot, and it wasn’t easy. Losing weight has never been easy. Still, it was a long ways away from my goal weight range of 160-170, which, BTW, according to the CDC, if I weigh 170, I would still be considered “Overweight” by their BMI calculator. I honestly think the standard BMI calculators are a bunch of junk. They don’t take into consideration anything other than height and weight. There is no consideration for frame size (I am a big-framed person anyways — you know, “big boned”), muscle mass, etc. Hence the reason that I am not concerned with getting to what the CDC determines as a “normal” weight.
I attribute this weight gain to (a) my low-functioning thyroid, (b) my malfunctioning adrenals, (c) food allergies (gluten/grains, legumes, and dairy), (d) emotional eating, and (e) too much stress. All of which, I am working on fixing. It is frustrating to realize how much weight you put on, despite eating a relatively clean diet with lots of real food. I know there are many, many people out there who feel the exact same way.
Anyways, I have completely digressed from my initial point. Thank you for sticking with me …. I tend to do that a lot.
Back in the middle of August, I was
whining confessing to Lydia how frustrated I was that I was eating such a clean diet (no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar), better managing my stress, and exercising (walking and yoga – nothing too strenuous to burden my adrenals), yet I wasn’t losing any weight. She told me two things:
1. You don’t lose weight to get healthy, you get healthy to lose weight.
2. Try upping your coconut oil.
Point number 1 really hit home for me. We live in a world where we are constantly told that we need to lose weight to be healthy. That, if we just lose weight, we’ll never have to worry about heart disease, diabetes, etc. Because of this, our society is obsessed with weight loss and we live in a world where we are judged by how we look. Losing weight is not a cure-all. Yes, it can help alleviate excess burden on your body, but it’s about time that we start focusing on why we are overweight and address those issues, before we do anything else. More times than none, there are going to be underlying issues that are simply preventing our bodies from dropping extra baggage.
Point number 2 was a total “Duh!” moment for me. Of course! I should up my coconut oil. I have always known that it’s good in aiding weight loss and helping thyroid health, so why wasn’t I already doing that?
Starting that day, I upped my daily intake of coconut oil to 9-12 tablespoons per day. Yes. You read that correctly. Since I use a lot of coconut oil in cooking, I average about 3 tablespoons that way. The other 6-9 tablespoons, I get by adding it to my tea. I try to drink 2-3 mugs of herbal tea per day and I add about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil into each mug. I am so used to it by now that I actually crave it. For me, it’s almost a treat! I have a cup with breakfast and lunch, and then often another mug at dinner.
And then ….
The weight started coming off. I began to steadily lose about 1 pound per week (sometimes a little more or less, depending on my activity and stress levels that week). And I am thrilled with that. A pound a week is a good, safe rate to lose weight. To date, I have lost 17 additional pounds. Combine that with my previous 15 pound weight loss and we’re at a whopping 32 pounds gone! I am officially halfway to where I want to be! And, there has been nothing difficult or frustrating. I don’t even think about it. I just eat as cleanly as possible, enjoy my tea and coconut oil, and let my body do what it needs to do. It took me 6+ years to get to this point, so it certainly isn’t going to change overnight!
I also feel like I have a little more energy throughout the day, and my energy levels are staying stable, whereas before, they were kind of up and down. A lot of that has to do with my determination to keep my blood sugar levels stable, but getting plenty of fat is key to making that happen.
Now, please don’t misinterpret this as me saying if you eat a whole bunch of coconut oil, you’ll lose weight. In my case, I think there are a number of reasons that I am finally being able to drop the excess weight, when in the past, I was not. I think all of the lifestyle changes that I have made over the last few months are all feeding off of one another to help with weight loss (upping my coconut oil intake may have been the one final thing that my body needed):
1. We eliminated allergens: grains, dairy, legumes, and sugar.
2. We started supplementing with high-quality products for specific areas that I was deficient.
3. I started focusing on getting more rest – in bed by 9:30pm most nights.
4. I got my blood sugar regulated so I no longer have spikes and dips.
5. I am working on the emotional aspects of illness and healing and that process is helping re-define my relationship with food.
(when I say “we”, I mean me and my nutritional therapist Lydia)
I am so excited about all of this. I think that we really underestimate the amount of fat that our bodies need. After decades of being fed the low-fat nonsense, I think we forget that fat is an important part of our diet. I have a feeling that even when I was eating what I considered a lot of fat, I perhaps wasn’t really eating enough. I am looking forward to seeing where this journey takes me. Remember, fat does not make you fat! If you’re still afraid of saturated fat, please read this post.
Whew! That was a long post. But, that is how coconut oil has helped me and I wanted to share. Have you had success incorporating coconut oil into your diet? Have you experienced improved thyroid function and/or weight loss? I would love to hear your story! Leave a comment below.
P.S. Coconut oil is not just good for they thyroid, it’s good for a host of things. For lots of health-related information on coconut oil, I have found this book from the founders of Tropical Traditions to be very informative. Because the FDA and FTC doesn’t like us talking about the health benefits of coconut oil, I recommend this book to everyone, so that you can learn more about coconut oil’s health benefits. It was just updated for 2012 and contains a ton of new information.
P.S. If you’re a new customer, you can receive a copy for free on your first purchase, and I get a discount coupon for referring you! Click this link to place your order and receive your free book!