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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02/24/2012 - 1:35pm

Most degenerative diseases are now linked to the over consumption of fructose and other simple carbohydrates. We need the healthy omega 3 and 9 fats to help keep our cardiovascular and cognitive systems functioning in an optimal fashion. We have to reduce the omega 6 intake to double the amount of our omega 3 intake as opposed to a 20-3 ratio. Over 10 years ago when I attempted to do this my weight dropped from 205 lb to 170 with no conscious dieting. Also my allergy symptoms lessened greatly. I have not needed any prescription medications in the last 5 years and my general health has been steadily improving which makes me happy because I'm 65. cheers Bob


02/24/2012 - 4:03pm

I heard that coconut oil give you Heart attack. So is that true.


02/24/2012 - 11:07pm

David M.

are you exercising? as well??


03/05/2012 - 9:04pm

Ive just started wish me luck:)


03/27/2012 - 1:00pm

canola oil is NOT a healthy oil. Olive,coconut,flax and codliver oils are


03/31/2012 - 9:57am

Because coconut oil is very very high in SATURATED FAT ..and usaluly food that is cooked in coconut oil is also high in saturated fat .saturated fat is bad fat .very bad ..too much of it in your body ..over time can start to clog your arteries which restricts blood flow around the body and too the heart which leads to heart problems, heart disease, heart attacks??> .and too much saturated fat causes obesity which has a whole range of health problems with it as well .it is best to eat healthy benefical fats like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated which is in olive oil, nuts, fish, avocados ..these fats help to take this bad fat away from your arteries and back to the liver where it is used ..these fats also help to protect you heart .so i would not eat anything cooked in those fats coconut, palm oil, i would just have things with olive oil


05/02/2012 - 10:38am

I was drinking spring water with lime and Stevia for a while and lost a ton of weight. Well, I decided to try some milk alternatives (I have a slight allergy to milk) and tried coconut milk. Well, to my surprise I immediately started feeling bloated (like I had eaten milk and cookies) and by the end of the half gallon, yes a single half gallon I had stopped losing weight and was beginning to notice a change in the mirror, and not a good change.

Coconut milk has 5 grams of fat per serving. ALL 5 grams are saturated. I get annoyed with people saying that coconut is the PERFECT food or that Olive oil is so healthy you could drink it and not get fat. LIES. I use small amounts of Extra Virgin olive oil and eat organic peanut butter, but, just like the coconut milk too they are fats and will potentially make you gain weight.


05/12/2012 - 3:48pm

There is widespread misconception that coconut oil is bad for you because it is said to raise blood cholesterol and cause heart disease. The only "proof" is one four-decades old study. The study used hydrogenated coconut oil. It is now known that the process of hydrogenation creates "trans fatty acids" (TFAs), which are toxic entities that enter cell membranes, block utilization of essential fatty acids (EFAs) and impede cell functionality. TFAs also cause a rise in blood cholesterol. These substances are not present in natural coconut oil.

In other words, a study based on hydrogenated coconut oil has no relevance to the non-hydrogenated coconut milk or coconut oil that you eat
Another reason people believe coconut oil must be bad for you is misguided association: it is a saturated fat and "saturated fats are bad for you." Dietary guidelines inevitably fail to distinguish between different kinds of saturated fats and insist that saturated fats (meaning all saturated fats) are harmful.

This is not just misleading. It is bad science. Leading scientists now recognize that just as there is good cholesterol, there are also good saturated fats.

Fats are classified as short-, medium- or long-chain based on the number of carbon molecules they contain. Nearly two-thirds of the saturated fat in coconut oil consists of medium-chain fatty acids.

When we eat long-chain fatty acids, they must be emulsified by bile salts in the small intestine before they can be absorbed into our body. Short- and medium-chain fatty acids, such as those in coconut milk, are absorbed directly through the portal vein to the liver, where they are immediately available to the body.

In other words, most of the saturated fat in coconut oil is easily digestible and converted into quick energy. And these types of fatty acids are less likely to cause obesity because they are immediately used by the body and have no opportunity to be stored


05/17/2012 - 1:15pm

I started to using coconut oil for Candida overgrowth. It contains very important anti-fungal properties which kill off the candida cells. This diet is very restrictive because of it lack of grain, fruit, dairy, fish, and numerous other healthy and unhealthy foods. I use the the oil to keep my energy level up because of the lack of carbohydrates and toxins ( which spike insulin levels and feeds my Candida) and has so far worked. I have loads of energy despite losing 3 kilos in 2 weeks. Not sure if the coconut oil had any impact on my weight loss because of the restricted diet. What I say is that is made it easier to actually go through with it. It adds creaminess and taste otherwise a pretty bland diet. I never grave sugars or in fact any of the foods groups that I am not allowed. When my Candida problem is over and ever need to lose a few kilos , I wll go back to this diet because it is so easy because of the added coconut oil. Important to say that I eat loads of vegetable, meats, eggs, almond milk, oat bran, some nuts etc so I definitely getting all my minerals and vitamins without insulin spiking carbs. Check it out if you want to lose some weight quickly without feeling tired and restricted.


05/22/2012 - 7:16am

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