Q. Can Coconut Oil Help You Lose Weight?

By Joyce Hendley, M.S., 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.

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I first bought Coconut Oil from Whole Foods for my Diverticulitious....I love it!


02/22/2012 - 5:06am

I am originally from Sri Lanka. My parents used coconut oil during their entire whole life time - both lived, 90 years with no serious illnesses whatsoever. My mom used to make a traditonal sweet for the New Year, we were her great helpers, we scraped coconut, stir the during the process - which takes hours to properly cook, etc. She used more than 26 dried coconuts, brown rice flour, etc., with the other ingredients needed. At the end of the cooking, we used to collect the oil, very carefully, and my mom always used to keep them in clean glass bottles. That's the oil she used in the household, except using for hair. So, even though, we are somewhat foolish having avoided coconut oil and started using other oils - that our great-grand-parents, grand-parents, parents never would have heard of. Actually, coconut oil was the only oil was in use in the ancient times, in Sri Lanka, and people live healthy, long lives, without been to a doctor at all. So, it's better, if we start getting back to naturals, rather than be the supporters of modern businesses, sadly had become a huge problem. Thisha


02/23/2012 - 5:51pm

I started using organic coconut oil 1 yr ago and all I can say is that my psroaisis is gone my energy is up my weight is good and my hair and skin are much healthier and bowel movements are regular. In general organic coconut oil is better for me.At my last med check up my DR asked what I had changed in my diet, I told him I started to use coconut oil !! the one you told me not to use!! He said keep at it it's doing wonders for you. As far as canola oil no way its genetically modified by nature because of the rapeseeds that it is made of! RAPESEEDS FIRST USE IS THE MAKING OF MUSTARD GAS,rape seed oil is used in machinery, the making of canola Oil, and causes many life threatning problems, animals and insects wont go near it.


02/23/2012 - 6:05pm

There is recent study indicating that coconut oil is good for curing Alzheimer's symptoms, due to its balance of the right kind of fatty acids, even though saturated fats. I would suggest more research be conducted, because it seems to make a very remarkable difference in improving the mental condition of several Alzheimer's patients.


02/24/2012 - 12:04am

There is a slight flaw with the concept of this article. Fast metabolism doesn't "burn" calories. People with a high metabolism are efficient at converting food to energy and storing it in the body, usually in the form of fat. People who are thin actually have a LOWER metabolism. They are inefficient at utilizing the energy in food, and it passes through their system, in the form of waste. It is a myth that metabolism burns calories. (where does the energy go?) If coconut oil helps lose weight, it must be for a different reason.


02/24/2012 - 8:33am

Health pros/cons aside, coconut oil is awesome to cook with! I had never even heard of it until I saw a relative using it. It adds no flavour to whatever you are cooking unlike other oils and margarine or butter!


02/24/2012 - 9:18am

Our body needs good fat...all of our cells are made of good fat. The American processed pre-packaged food and fast food style of living is the cause for obesity. If Americans made their food from scratch using coconut, olive, canola oil (and other good oils) and even butter they would not be obese to the degree they are now. If you have traveled anywhere outside of USA, you will nitice that overweight people in other countries just don't look like the overweight people in the USA.

This craze of low fat and low sugar (meaning cancer causing substitutes) are bad for our body. What's the point of drinking skim or even 2% milk? To avoid fat? All the nutrients of dairy, like Vitamin D are fat soluble. So drinking to Vitamin D fortified skim milk is a big joke. There are many examples how big companies lure in consumers with their low fat low sugar labels...chances are if it has a label, you shouldn't be eating it. Learn how to cook and know what you are putting into your body!


02/24/2012 - 10:09am

I come from Goa a place on the west coast of Southern India. Using coconuts have been a long standing tradition of the people from this part of India, including daily curries, not forgetting the sweetmeats. The assortments that can be churned out of coconuts is amazing. In the good old days, people in Goa used to dry the coconut and the dried kernel was used to extract oil, the oil was used both for cooking and frying; an excellent source of energy and people used to live longer lives eating only dishes made from coconut, certainly coconut has excellent nutritional values. To-days marketing gimmicks have changed the face of Goa.

— Anonymous


02/24/2012 - 11:43am

Coconut oil can give you terrible diarreha, maybe that's why you lose weight....


02/24/2012 - 12:45pm

I am from Trinidad and grew up on coconut oil. My parents, grandparents, neighbours and in fact almost everyone in the village where I lived cooked with coconut oil. They also mixed it with some other stuff and used it to massage their bodies and as a moisturizer in their hair. They lived a long healthy life without medication and did not have many visits to the doctor.


02/24/2012 - 1:27pm

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