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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.

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COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

Every morning's deliciousness is Coffee with butter and coconut oil.
I preheat my mug by filling it with boiling water and emptying. Put in tablespoon of grass fed unsalted butter and a tablespoon of coconut oil (purified tastes better than raw, cold pressed to me) and fill with fresh made coffee. Whisk with a little hand whisk for a minute and let stand for 30 seconds. At that point the oils have emulsified and the coffee becomes pale and creamy. This is so energising! I have been doing it for over 2 months now and it is still delicious every time.

Anonymous

09/13/2014 - 3:55pm

Coconut Oil: Great post regarding plateau. I have the same exactly situation as you can't lose the weight. Now, am starting to add 1 tablespoon coconut oil into my vegetable shake in the morning. Also, I read its good for diabetes. I'm trying to control it..Thanks :)

Anonymous

09/08/2014 - 1:34pm

"What a pity coconut oil does not also increase IQ, spelling and grammar skills. It does seem: spelling correctly, constructing and finishing a word or sentence, is a skill long lost, now unachievable. Well away you go kiddies. Take your poor spelling and grammar, your lol's and u's and roflcopta's with you ...groan."

The colon after "seem" is superfluous and awkward as is the comma following the word "sentence." In the sentence "Well away you go kiddies" you should have comma following the word "well." While we're bemoaning (or begroaning) the popularity of online and text colloquialisms such as "lol" and "u" I might point out that ellipsis are only to be used to imply word omission without the intention of changing the original meaning of a quoted passage. In other words, not the way you used them.

Anonymous

08/20/2014 - 7:41am

Sometimes I am sorry that many people, especially younger folk, don't take spelling and grammar etc so seriously these days. And things are less clear without grammar, especially when such basic things as full stops aren't put in. But we have a LIVING LANGUAGE, and things change. And lots of people really genuinely don't understand about semicolons ( ; ) and so on. Why make things harder in everyday writings and posters etc if people really don't get it? Literature may be different and we can be more complex if that helps then. And in the past - before Dr Johnson and his dictionary etc! - spelling was much more fluid. So different spellings are nothing new. And personally, I think txt speak, LOL and u and BTW are interesting additions to the language! I really do think it's helpful to remember it's a living, ever-evolving, language - it helps to keep things in perspective. Things change.. LOL :-))

Anonymous

07/16/2014 - 7:04am

I spread 1table spoon on multigrain toast and then top the toast with hemp seed. Its the best part of my morning!

Anonymous

07/13/2014 - 1:03pm

I've just started on coconut oil. I put it in my fruit smoothies (banana, 1/4 c natural apple juice, 1/4 c coconut water, and started with 1 tsp of coconut oil, frozen strawberries, stevia sugar). I wonder if I'm using the CO in the best way for digesting it. I haven't tried it in tea yet (wonder when people say they use it in their coffee they have to blend it), do you have to blend it in tea also? Also wondered when used on your face, are you applying it directly. I have really dry skin/psoriasis on my face and some in my scalp. When you use it in your hair, if long for example, how much do you use and how do you get it to your scalp without making your hair all oily?

Anonymous

06/20/2014 - 8:24pm

A vegan diet rich in coconut oil, nuts, fresh fruit, veggies, beans, and whole grains has worked wonders for my family. Ailments that we didn't even know were diet related have magically vanished!

Anonymous

06/19/2014 - 8:33pm

I have a table spoon of it once a day mixed with my tablespoon on pure gelatin mixed with water and then adding hot water so it's a kind of drink.

Anonymous

06/15/2014 - 2:14am

To anonymous on 5/30/14:

I, too, have issues with poor grammar and spelling.....but rather than the negative, trite comments, I prefer to appreciate and thank the writer for the content. Maybe your efforts and time would be better spent volunteering in a school or community center. Someone so passionate just might make a difference.
And you have a nice day!

Anonymous

06/04/2014 - 10:27am

To the grammatically pious Anonymous,

That colon after 'it does seem' - should be a semi colon as it precedes a list. LOL

...."What a pity coconut oil does not also increase IQ, spelling and grammar skills. It does seem: spelling correctly, constructing and finishing a word or sentence, is a skill long lost, now unachievable. Well away you go kiddies. Take your poor spelling and grammar, your lol's and u's and roflcopta's with you ...groan."...

Anonymous

05/30/2014 - 3:11am

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