To answer, he began his video Flashback Friday: Coconut Oil and Abdominal Fat with a popular infographic that surprised me by showing that, evidently, there is promising evidence that coconut oil could help with obesity. Well, if you fill the stomachs of rats with purified medium-chain fatty acids, one component of coconut oil, they end up eating less food, as you can see at 0:25 in my video, but you don’t know if there’s any relevance to humans until you put it to the test.
Researchers compared breakfasts with the same amount of dairy fat, coconut oil fat, or tallow (beef fat), and there was no effect on hunger, fullness, satisfaction, or how much the subjects then went on to eat at lunchtime. Where did this idea that coconut fat is somehow different from other kinds of fat come from? Six years ago, an open-label pilot study was published. Researchers asked 20 men and women to eat two tablespoons of coconut oil each day for a month. As you can see at 1:03 in my video, the men appeared to lose about an inch off their waist. But, since it was an open-label study, the participants knew what they were eating. There wasn’t a placebo control. In fact, there was no control group at all. Because of that, we can’t know if the effects happened anyway, even without coconut oil. Indeed, there is a well-recognized effect in dietary studies where just being in a dietary study under observation tends to lead to a reduction in caloric intake, because the subjects know they’re going to be weighed and observed.
So, he got a controlled study of coconut oil and waistlines in men and women in 2015. About a hundred men and women were given about a tablespoon of coconut oil a day for three months and, as you can see at 1:51 in my video, lost nearly an inch off their waist compared to control by the end of the study. What did the control group get instead of coconut oil? Nothing. There was no placebo, so the researchers compared doing something with doing nothing. When one does that, however, there is often a placebo effect regardless of the true efficacy of the treatment. What’s more, the researchers suggested that the coconut oil group may want to take their daily dose with fruit. If the subjects did end up eating more fruit, that in itself may have helped with weight reduction because, despite its sugar content, fruit consumption tends to be associated with “anti-obesity effects.”