Meals from Thailand that boost your metabolism

We've been having an amazing trip here in beautiful Thailand with some of our friends. I just love the culture here, and this country has some of the friendliest people we've ever come across in all of our travels.

Aside from the fun adventures we've been on here in Thailand, we've all been loving the food! We even took a full day cooking class here to learn how to cook Thai dishes. It was very educational and also delicious!

The use of herbs and spices (in large quantities) is incredible, not only for the taste, but for the tremendous health benefits of spices. Based on what I've seen here, I'd estimate that the average Thai person consumes about 5-10x the amount of herbs and spices that average Americans, Canadians, Brits, or Aussies do. And all those spices lend some truly powerful protective effects on your body. When you make any curry dish from scratch, you see how much spices are involved in the curry paste, and it's impressive.

If you don't know all the powerful health benefits of spices, you can read my article here with the top 10 healthiest spices that protect your health and boost your metabolism.

Some people shy away from Thai food because they do not like spicy foods, but we learned in our Thai cooking classes how to dice or mash the hot peppers in different ways to create a mild, medium, or spicy dish. I love spicy foods, so that's been another great thing about Thai meals, but if you don't like it spicy, just order mild and you can still reap the benefits of all of the herbs, spices, and curry dishes.

In addition to a dizzying array of spices used in Thai cooking, they use coconut products at pretty much every meal... this includes coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut water, coconut meat, shredded coconut, etc in all sorts of different ways from breakfast to dinner and from drinks to desserts.

Common western nutrition advice is that coconut foods contains loads of so-called "dangerous" saturated fat and well meaning, but nutritionally clueless media outlets tell you to avoid tropical oils because of the unfounded saturated fat phobia that they have. But anyone with a little common sense knows that a perfectly natural food like a coconut is NOT unhealthy. If it were unhealthy, surely large masses of the entire Thai population would be dropping dead since they eat large amounts of coconut fats at almost every meal of every single day.

Of course, that's not the case, and the Thai display MUCH better health than the average westerner.

And if you've read my newsletter for a long time, you know I've written about the health benefits of coconut foods many times. I have a great article to finish this newsletter off today from my friend, and nutritionist, Josh Bezoni, who has also been on this trip with us enjoying the delicious Thai food.

I'll let Josh finish the discussion about why coconut fat can even be useful in losing fat in addition to it's health benefits.

A Tasty Saturated Fat that Flattens Your Stomach?
by Nutritionist Josh Bezoni

You probably think you know all there is to know about saturated fats… those so-called “bad” fats that everybody blames for high cholesterol and heart disease, and certainly shouldn’t be included in your diet if you want to lose flab, or even maintain your shape.

But what if what you’ve been told is not accurate… and saturated fats could actually have a healthy place in your diet?

And just imagine for a second if those same fats that have been demonized by dieticians and public health agencies alike could actually help to boost your metabolism and promote fat loss, along with other healthy effects…

Well, you can stop imagining now because this isn’t a dream; it’s reality, and you can get all of these benefits and more just by adding coconut oil to your eating plan.

Coconut Oil is a Healthy Saturated Fat

Many types of oils, such as vegetable oils and lard are rich in long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs), but coconut oil is unique because it’s rich in medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs).

So, you ask, “Why does this matter?”

Because MCFAs are little nutritional powerhouses that are not only easily digested and utilized by your cells, they produce benefits that are almost unheard of… like stimulating your metabolism and helping you lose the pounds. That’s right: research has proven that MCFAs:

“… aid in the prevention of obesity or potentially stimulate weight loss." i

For Real… Coconut Oil Can Help You Burn More Fat

Let’s say you’re following a healthy diet and exercising but are looking for an extra fat-loss boost. This was the scenario in one study, in which 40 obese women started eating right and walking, then were given either soybean oil or coconut oil (about 2 tablespoons a day) for 12 weeks.ii

That one varying factor made a huge difference, with the coconut oil group benefiting from a reduction in abdominal obesity and waist size that the soybean oil group did not get.

The coconut oil group had other benefits as well, like higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol (which actually decreased in the soybean oil group).

Guys, this applies to you, too, as separate research has shown that when 20 obese men added coconut oil to their eating programs (this time for only four weeks), their waists shrunk by nearly 3 cm on average (not to shabby for doing nothing other than eating a delicious tropical oil… ).iii

Animal studies have even shown that overfeeding rats a diet that contained 45% of the fat as MCFAs (the kind in coconut oil) gained less weight and had smaller fat deposits than rats fed LCFAs (the kind in vegetable oils).iv So this is one oil you do not need to feel guilty about adding to your meals.

Polynesian Islanders Have Very Low Rates of Heart Disease…

They also eat a lot of coconuts, and there is reason to believe that the coconut milk, meat and oil, which makes up anywhere from 34% to 63% of their total caloric intake, is providing a protective effect for their hearts (v) -- or at the very least was certainly not harming them the way saturated fats “should” (if you listen to conventional nutritional dogma).

Despite being a “saturated fat,” coconut oil has been found to lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and LDL (bad) cholesterol – all of which could be beneficial for your heart health. vi

One other tidbit you can use to impress your friends: coconut oil contains lauric acid, which your body converts into monolaurin; it’s a fantastic virus-, fungal- and bacteria-fighting substance. The only other natural source is in breast milk, which helps babies fight off infections. If you eat coconut oil, you get these awesome infection-fighting benefits, too.

Extra Virgin, Unrefined… What to Look for in a Coconut Oil

You need to watch out for the cheap refined coconut oils sold at many supermarkets, as many of these use a chemical distillation process, may contain unsavory coconut additives (like bleached, dried coconut flakes) or may even contain hydrogenated oils!

In other words, they’re a total waste of your time…

The best coconut oil will be in its raw, unrefined form, and will state “virgin coconut oil” on the label. These oils are generally made from the first pressing of fresh coconut, without any chemicals for extraction or other additives.

Only unrefined, virgin/extra virgin coconut oils will have the fresh coconut taste (refined oils get the flavor taken out) and should be made from fresh (not dried) coconuts. Ideally, look for an organic oil as well that will have been grown free of chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides.

Coconut oil is an excellent oil for cooking, being exceptionally heat-stable and not prone to damage from even high-heat cooking (unlike olive oil or vegetable oil). But if you’re looking to consume enough coconut oil to get the maximum benefits, the consensus is anywhere from 2 to 3.5 tablespoons, daily. If you’ve never had coconut oil before, start with a small amount and work your way up to this gradually.

Coconut oil goes great for stir fries, added to oatmeal or other hot foods, or for any other cooking uses.

Click here for 10 reasons to use DAILY coconut oil (3 of these will shock you)

In closing, if you want to learn about another odd healthy fat that actually helps you fight belly fat even more than coconut oil, check out this information below right away…

 Other surprising foods that help REMOVE your belly fat

Enjoy this delicious flat-belly oil!

Coach Josh

Scientific References:
i “Medium-Chain Triglycerides Increase Energy Expenditure and Decrease Adiposity in Overweight Men” Obesity Research (2003) 11, 395–402
ii “Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity.” Lipids July 2009;44(7):593-601
iii An open-label pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of virgin coconut oil in reducing visceral adiposity. ISRN Pharmacology 2011: 949686.
iv “Overfeeding with medium-chain triglyceride diet results in diminished deposition of fat.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1983 Jan;37(1):1-4.
v Cholesterol, coconuts, and diet on Polynesian atolls: a natural experiment: the Pukapuka and Tokelau island studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 1981 Aug;34(8):1552-61.
vi “Beneficial effects of virgin coconut oil on lipid parameters and in vitro LDL oxidation.” Clinical Biochemistry 37,2004;830-835).

Thanks Josh... I couldn't agree more! I use virgin coconut oil daily for most of my cooking, as well as using coconut cream and milk several times a week too.

Hopefully I'll have time to report more from Thailand while we're still here. Talk to you soon,

Mike Geary
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer