Does Extra Virgin Olive Oil Promote Weight Loss?
Extra virgin olive oil is made by grinding olives and extracting the oil, which many people love to cook with, drizzle on pizza, pasta, and salads, or use as a dip for bread.
Some of the most well-known benefits of consuming extra virgin olive oil are its ability to reduce inflammation, support heart health, and lower blood pressure. It may even have potential anti-cancer effects and protect brain health.
This article examines whether extra virgin olive oil can be used to promote weight loss.
Contains compounds that may promote weight loss
Many of the benefits of extra virgin olive oil have been observed in the context of a Mediterranean diet.
This diet is characterized by high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, potatoes, legumes, nuts and seeds. While the diet often includes fish, the main source of fat is olive oil, and it also limits red meat and sweets.
Extra virgin olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which have an unsaturated carbon bond in their chemical composition. MUFAs are typically liquid at room temperature.
A previous 4-week study found that overweight or obese men who replaced saturated fat with monounsaturated fat in their diet experienced a small but significant weight loss compared to a diet high in saturated fat, although total or Caloric intake did not change significantly.
Recent research agrees that unsaturated fats are likely to be more beneficial than saturated fats when it comes to healthy weight maintenance.
Animal studies have also shown that a diet high in monounsaturated fats prevents weight gain and fat accumulation.
Additionally, extra virgin olive oil is a rich source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which have long been studied for their ability to play a role in healthy weight loss and maintenance.
MCTs are triglycerides containing fatty acids with 6-12 carbon atoms. They are quickly broken down and absorbed by your liver, where they can be used for energy.
While some studies have found a positive effect of MCTs on weight loss, others have found no effect.
Still, one study compared MCTs to long-chain triglycerides and found that MCTs led to greater production of certain appetite-regulating hormones, such as peptide YY, which promotes satiety.
Other research suggests that MCTs may promote weight loss by increasing calorie and fat burning in the body.
Extra virgin olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fat and medium-chain triglycerides, both of which have been shown to offer potential benefits when included in weight loss diets.
How to use extra virgin olive oil for weight loss
Extra virgin olive oil can be useful for weight loss, but it seems to be most beneficial when used in certain ways and in certain amounts.
While some people claim that olive oil massages may help with weight loss, there isn't any research to support this idea. However, studies have found that such massages can help premature babies gain weight.
Another popular claim is that a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice can promote rapid weight loss. However, this is probably because it is often used as a cleanse, which usually results in very low calorie intake and consequently both fat and muscle loss.
However, extra virgin olive oil incorporated into an overall healthy diet is a different story.
1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil contains 119 calories and 13.5 grams of fat. This can quickly add up to a calorie-restricted diet, so it's best to include olive oil in limited amounts so as not to encourage weight gain.
A systematic review of 11 randomized controlled trials found that an olive oil-enriched diet reduced weight more than a control diet for at least 12 weeks.
Extra virgin olive oil can be used as a salad dressing, mixed into pasta or soups, drizzled onto pizza or vegetables, or incorporated into baked goods.
While extra virgin olive oil can help with weight loss in limited amounts, stay away from claims that olive oil massages and detoxes are a long-term solution.
The final result
Extra virgin olive oil is a healthy source of monounsaturated fats and medium-chain triglycerides, both of which have been shown to offer potential weight loss benefits.
While there are claims that extra virgin olive oil can be used as a massage oil or for detoxing, the most effective way to use extra virgin olive oil for weight loss is to include it as the primary source of fat in your overall healthy diet.
Keep in mind that a small serving of olive oil can add a significant amount of calories and fat to your diet. As such, it should be used in limited amounts. Extra virgin olive oil used as part of a plant-based diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, may provide the greatest benefits over the long term.