Advertisement

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

OK, I bought the extra virgin coconut oil, I read these comments. Some one please tell me how to eat this jar of stuff looks like crisco oil to me. do you scoop it and eat it or do you melt it.

Anonymous

11/19/2012 - 8:30pm

3lbs in 4 days? How much are you "taking"? Anonymous too.

Anonymous

12/03/2012 - 1:28pm

I've been using coconut oil for only a couple weeks. It's great to mix in the morning coffee. For those who aren't sure how to get it into your diet I reccomend this! Take about a half to a full tablespoon of coconut oil and put it in with your coffee and sugar(sweetener) then blend it! I use a magic bullet and add some almond milk to give a little creamier feel. When done it gets a nice froth and tastes amazing!

Anonymous

12/04/2012 - 5:01pm

Some years back, I ate 1 1/2 Tablespoons of coconut oil, fixed a healthy meal and ate whatever I wanted to eat in between meals every three hours. I was also active but did not work out. At the end of two weeks I had lost 15 pounds and felt so full of energy the entire time. It was great. The oil was hard to take though because I had trouble (gagging) swallowing "oil". I have recently purchased the oil capsules in an effort to loss weight without the hassle.

Anonymous

12/14/2012 - 9:05pm

if you put your coconut oil in milk it will taste better and you can get it down much easy.

Anonymous.

Anonymous

12/27/2012 - 11:15pm

I've come across a great way to get coconut oil in! Liquify 1/2 cup coconut oil, add 1/4 cup cocoa powder a little sea salt and stevia to taste. Mix. Pour in a gallon zip top bag and lay flat in freezer for about 10 min. Break it up and eat it.Keep it in the freezer, it melts in your mouth. It is a delicious chocolate super-food that will not raise your glycemic index.

Anonymous

12/28/2012 - 12:18am

OMG! u ppl need to do your research on saturated fat. Just like carbs and sugars, there's good and bad. Its called NATURALLY OCCURRING saturated fat, which is the fat that your brain needs to function well. Don't listen to your tv telling you that all saturated fat is bad. As someone who is studying to become a nutritionist, these are questions I get asked all the time. The islanders that they have done studies on for years who consume this oil don't have a trace of heart disease. Do your research on nutrition people and stop getting your info from the news.

Anonymous

01/11/2013 - 6:37pm

I started the Pure coconut oil few days back and tok 4 tbl.sp with water at one time...on the 3rd day I was badly sick and got indigestion....the smell in food is just awful...how many tbl.sp in a day should I take and will that remove the weight stall I have ??????

Anonymous

01/13/2013 - 7:20pm

Why I feel hungry after having cocount oil?

Anonymous

01/17/2013 - 4:56pm

Why are you eating the coconut oil straight!? Cook with it! No need to gag it down.

Anonymous

01/29/2013 - 5:07pm

Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner