There are two separate weight loss strategies that are getting a lot of coverage in the media at the moment. Today I want to talk a little about them and the science behind them.
Coconut Oil– is being reported as one of the best weight loss quick fixes for the last two years. It is always worrying though when it is always in articles that don’t have much scientific merit! I did a little bit of research though in the scientific journal to see if there is any truth behind it.
It seems that there is significant scientific basis behind it. Basically Coconut Oil is mainly (60%) made up of Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs).
This oil is more heat stable and can be used for higher heat cooking unlike other plant oils.
Here comes the science bit….
Some of the fats in coconut oil are of medium length (MCTs) and bypass the lymphatic system. They go directly to the liver for energy production. Further, one of the fatty acids in coconut, lauric acid, has a slightly higher thermic effect than other fats. Still, coconut oil contains very low levels of essential fats (omega-3 & omega-6).
One of the common claims for coconut oil is that it contains relatively high levels of MCTs (caproic, caprylic, and capric acids to be specific) that do not raise (or even lower) LDL levels. Other data show that MCTs help to moderate body fat. Coconut oil contains about 60% MCTs. Remember, the more refined and fractioned the oil, the fewer MCTs.
There are numerous studies showing that coconut oil raises LDL when it replaces other oils in the diet. Overall, the data is mixed.
Expeller pressed, unrefined or virgin oil is the best and retains a slight coconut aroma and taste. It gives everything a nice “Malibu” flavour and a spoonful in your coffee after your workout is a nice treat! Refined versions are tasteless and not as good for you so keep away from them.
There have been clinical studies done that show that MCFAs help people to lose weight and due to the thermic effect helped to reduce the LDLs. What is important though is that it does not give you an excuse to eat tonnes of the stuff. In moderation is best and ideally replacing the other fats you are using. Here is a link to one study but if you want more I can send them on!
Pulses– This is actually the United Nations Year of the pulses. They are reporting that eating about 3/4 cup (130 grams) each day of these foods known as pulses led to a weight loss of 0.34 kilograms (just over half a pound), in a systematic review and meta-analysis of all available clinical trials on the effects of eating pulses.
The paper, by lead author Dr. Russell de Souza, a researcher with the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital, was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The research builds on previous
work by the hospital’s Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre, that a daily serving of pulses makes people feel fuller than if they ate a control diet, and that eating pulses can significantly reduce “bad cholesterol.”
The meta-analysis looked at 21 clinical trials involving 940 adult men and women, who lost an average of 0.34 kg (0.75 pounds) over six weeks with the addition of a single serving of pulses to the diet–and without making a particular effort to reduce other foods.
Pulses have a low glycemic index (meaning that they are foods that break down slowly) and can be used to reduce or displace animal protein as well as “bad” fats such as trans-fat in a dish or meal.
“This new study fits well with our previous work, which found that pulses increased the feeling of fullness by 31 per cent, which may indeed result in less food intake.” said Dr. de Souza.
So here is my way of putting them both together in a healthy snack!
Spicy Chickpea Nibbles
1 tin of good quality Chickpeas drained, rinsed and patted dry on kitchen paper
1 teaspoon of melted coconut oil
Mix everything together in a bowl till the chickpeas are generously coated in the oil and spices. Add the cumin and chilli to your taste preference. I usually add 1/2 teaspoon of each.
Pour them into a baking tray and bake in a low oven for at least 30 mins till the chickpeas are crispy but not brown
Put them in a bowl and enjoy