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Q. Can Coconut Oil Help You Lose Weight?

By Joyce Hendley, January/February 2009

Can Coconut Oil Help You Lose Weight?

A. There is science to suggest that the tropical oil may cause a slight (temporary) boost in your metabolism.

Anytime you eat, the process of digesting food burns off about 10 percent of the calories you consume. For example, if you consume 500 calories in a meal, your body uses about 50 of those calories to transform food into the energy that fuels your body. But theoretically if you eat a 500-calorie meal and replace the fat from oils or butter with coconut oil, your metabolism will speed up and burn more like 15 percent, or 75 calories.

It comes down to the molecular structure of the oil and how the body digests it. The fatty acids in coconut oil (called medium-chain triacylglycerols, or MCT) are shorter and more water-soluble than those in other oils, such as olive or canola. “So they’re more directly routed to the liver, where they’re readily burned for fuel,” explains Peter Jones, Ph.D., professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. Therefore, they have less opportunity to be deposited in fat stores.

But there is no scientific evidence to show that consuming coconut oil helps people lose weight. There is one recent study, however, using an MCT oil, which suggests coconut oil may work in the same way. In the study, 31 overweight men and women followed a low-calorie diet that included just over a tablespoon for women and just under two tablespoons for men each day of either an MCT oil or olive oil. After four months, the MCT-oil users lost an average of 7 pounds; the olive oil group just 3 pounds. The investigators suggested that the metabolic boost produced by the MCT oil likely played a role.

Even if coconut oil does help people lose weight, few nutrition experts recommend it, since coconut oil is loaded with saturated fat: 12 grams in 1 tablespoon versus 7 grams in a tablespoon of butter.

Bottom Line: The extra calorie burn produced by coconut oil might give you a slight edge, but only if you make room by eating less of something else. A tablespoon of any oil sets you back around 120 calories.

Download a FREE 5-Day 1,500-Calorie Meal Plan to Lose Weight!

COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

I don 't know alot about coconut oil, but I am thankful about the write up about, Can coconut oil help you lose weight? And especially the last comment that was made about the difference in medium chain fatty acid ( MCFA) and long chain fatty acid (LCFA). Also the part about the best sources are from coconut and palm kernel oils. However, I believe I would like to try a little coconut oil in my diet and my hair and skin from time to time. Hope

Anonymous

06/03/2010 - 3:17am

"Only a small portion of coconut oil is made from medium chain fatty acids. The majority of the fatty acids in coconut oil are long-chain fatty acids, such as lauric, myristic and palmitic acids."

This is an outright misrepresentation of the truth. Lauric Acid, otherwise known as dodecanoic acid, has a 12 carbon chain. A medium chain triglyceride contains between 6-12 carbons. This classifies Lauric acid as a MCT.

Secondly, the majority of fatty acids in coconut oil ARE Medium Chain Triglycerides. Lauric acid alone can represent greater than 40% and closer to 50% of the total fat content depending on the source, but there's also caprylic acid and capric acid, at 8 and 10 carbon chains respectively, that help bring the MCT levels consistently above the 50% mark. Coconut oil is the greatest known source of MCTs around.

Next time either know what you're talking about or research it first before putting incorrect information out there for others to read and make important health decisions surrounding. It's irresponsible.

Anonymous

12/04/2010 - 8:27am

I REPLACED MY VERY SIMPLE BODY LOTION WITH COCONUT OIL. IN A FEW DAYS MY SKIN WAS VISIBLY BETTER. A "LIVER" SPOT ON MY FACE HAS ALMOST DISAPPEARED. I AM 78 AND A FEW TIMES EVERY WEEK SOMEONE COMMENTS ON WHAT GOOD SKIN I HAVE. THAT HAPPENED EVEN BEFORE THE COCONUT OIL, BUT HAPPENS MORE OFTEN SINCE THEN. I AM STILL ON THE FENCE AS TO WHETHER TO REPLACE OLIVE OIL (WITH WHICH I REPLACED BUTER ABOUT 2 YEARS AGO) WITH COCONUT OIL.

Anonymous

12/03/2011 - 11:58pm

I feel cocunit oil really helps to reduce weight id taken in the morning one table spoon empty stomach

Anonymous

12/28/2011 - 7:32am

It is virtually impossible to get a straight answer, regarding the health benefits of coconut oil or anything else on the interenet for that matter. Coconut oil is fatty, but most say it is good fat and eliminates through the liver and does not cause lipid levels to go up, and then there is the other side where others say a fat is a fat, so do not eat it, it will raise lipid levels. So, which one is it? i recently started eating two teaspoons a day, i will stop now before i put my health at risk, though i will continue to use it on my hair and my skin as i am already seeing tremendous results and i cannot actually fin cause for concern when applying to my hair and skin. For those of you eating it, please make sure you do an extensive research or ask a doctor or a nutritionist before you take a chance of clogging your arteries.

Anonymous

01/06/2012 - 3:53pm

In the 90 s I gave up fat , guess what I got fat... I am new to the coconut oil, but so far it has cured my constipation. I have more energy. I am so tired on the American processed crappy low fat diet loaded with chemicals inspired by greedy food producers!

Anonymous

01/09/2012 - 11:04am

I used Organic Extra-Vrigin Coconut Oil as part of a small wright loss routine for 15 days and it helped me lose 15 pounds. I documented it in a notebook and averaged the weight loss at the 15th day. [For the record, it wasn't a consistent loss of 1 pound a day, it averaged out to 15 pounds in 15 days.] :)

This was my diet [I HOPE THIS REALLY HELPS SOMEONE] :

-As soon as I got up I drank a tall glass of water

-I ate a big breakfast within 45 minutes of waking up

-I drank water all throughout the day

-I ate [at least...lol] three square meals a day

-I also drank green tea, Yerba mate tea and oolong tea

-I took 1 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 Teaspoon of the above mentioned Coconut Oil before every meal [My body felt like a furnace after just a few days, it sped up my metabolism quite quickly.]

-And Finally, I cheated whenever I wanted [so....obviously I wasn't cheating all the time, but when I did, the point was to not stress over it because extreme stress can raise cortisol levels which helps keep the fat on...and trust me, if you've had wright loss problems your whole life like I have you know you don't just feel a "little" guilty when you cave in, it really does a job on you...so, I CHEAT GUILT FREE!]

I was amazed to see that this actually worked! Keeping tab on the wight loss and writing everything down really helped me to grasp that this was possible :) By the way, this diet was a modified version of Kevin Trudeau's "Lose 30 Pounds in 30 Days." I am NOT on his payroll, and I am NOT him and say what you want about the man, this works!

I'll say it again, I really hope this helps someone out there! Don't give up, lasting change is not only possible, it's yours now! Do it and be amazed!!!

-David M.

Anonymous

02/21/2012 - 2:27am

I recently went on a high fat low carb diet. I eliminated sugar and all grains ( even whole grains ). I started to eat grass fed beef, butter (for the first time in 30 years ), lots of nuts, raw cheese and turkey bacon. My lipid panel improved by 30 %. I got this diet from a registered dietician . This is what the latest science is showing. Fat doesn`t make you fat. Sugar and grains make you fat. Saturated fat is healthy if you eat the right saturated fats such as raw dairy anf grass fed beef. Rob

Anonymous

02/21/2012 - 4:55pm

Never have used it, have heard lots of good things, will have to try it.

Anonymous

02/21/2012 - 8:12pm

It's annoying to see ignorant people posing as experts. Coconut oil has been the subject of multiple studies, and it's looking like the best of our options, certainly for cooking.

This writer should do her homework and quit writing until she has enough decent research under her belt to get things right.

Anonymous

02/21/2012 - 10:47pm

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